Public Records Act
The Public Records Act provides the people with broad rights of access to public records. The purpose of the act is to allow people to be informed about governmental decisions and therefore help keep government accountable (WAC 44-14-01003 ). The act declares that it must be "liberally construed" to promote the public policy of open government (RCW 42.56.030 ).
- Governor Proclamation Public Records Changes
- Public Records Request
- Review of Agency Denials
- Charges for Copying
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Contact Us
Governor Proclamation Public Records Changes
Due to COVID-19 and limited operations per Governors Proclamation 20-28: Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act (pdf) and Governors Proclamation 20-28.14: Amending and Extending Proclamation 20-28 (pdf), the Department of Corrections (DOC) is only processing public records requests via email and through the online electronic request portal. Per the Governor’s direction, the DOC will not be processing any requests submitted via U.S. mail through January 19, 2021. In addition, the department will cease in-person inspection of public records and will not accept in-person submission of requests at DOC facilities and offices.
At this time, the Governor’s directive lasts through January 19th. We will update you if there are any changes. Again, you can still submit requests via email and through the online electronic request portal.
Public Records Request
All requests for public records from the Department of Corrections (DOC) must be submitted to the DOC's Public Records Officer (RCW 42.56.580 ). A DOC Public Records Coordinator (WAC 137-08-080 ) will respond to each request within 5 business days of receiving the request (RCW 42.56.520 )
The Department has a process to respond to requests for public records (RCW 42.56.040 ), which is codified in WAC 137-08-090 and documented in DOC Policy 280.510 Public Disclosure of Records.
How to Submit a Public Records Request (WAC 137-08-090 )
General questions do not require a public record request. Additionally, the Department of Corrections (DOC) can provide some information about incarcerated and formally incarcerated person(s) without a public records request. You may contact DOC Headquarters for this information, or with general questions.
All requests for public records, other than requests by inmates currently incarcerated by the Department for inspection of their health records or central file, must be submitted in writing to the DOC Public Records Officer. Each request should include:
Inmates under the authority of the Department shall submit requests to inspect their own health record or central file to the records manager at the facility in which they are currently incarcerated.
- (a) The name of the person requesting the record and their contact information,
- (b) The calendar date on which the request is made, and
- (c) The records requested
Public records requests can be submitted through the following ways:
Department of Corrections
Public Records Office
PO BOX 41118
Olympia, WA 98504-1118
Inmate Patient Health & Chemical Dependency Records
If your public records request(s) will include patient health and/or chemical dependency records, you will need to submit additional release forms.
The appropriate release forms must be filled out completely, signed and dated by the patient.
Chemical Dependency Records
- DOC 13-035 Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information (English)
- DOC 13-035 Autorizacion Para Revelar Informacion Sobre La Salud (Spanish)
Review of Agency Denial
Record requests are only denied if the records requested are exempt. Every denial must include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld (RCW 42.56.210 ). If you disagree with this denial, you are have two options:
Attorney General Review
Per RCW 42.56.530 , whenever a state agency concludes that a public record is exempt from disclosure and denies a person opportunity to inspect or copy a public record for that reason, the person may request the attorney general to review the matter. The attorney general shall provide the person with his or her written opinion on whether the record is exempt.
Per RCW 42.56.550 , you may pursue judicial review by the superior court in the county in which the record is maintained when:
- You've been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record by an agency.
- You believe that an agency has not made a reasonable estimate of time that the agency requires to response to a public record request.
Agencies must internally review all denials and reviews shall be deemed completed at the end of the second business day following the denial of inspection, and shall constitute final agency action for the purposes of judicial review (RCW 42.56.520 ). Judicial reviews must be filed within one year of the agency's claim of exemption or the last production of a record on a partial or installment basis.
Charges for Copying
Per the Public Records Act, agencies may charge to recover the actual cost of making and providing copies of records when fulfilling requests. The Department of Corrections' (DOC) charges and fees are outlined in RCW 42.56.120 and WAC 137-08-110.
Types of Records
|Printed Records||Photocopies of public records or printed copies of electronic public records|
|Electronic Records||Public records in electronic format|
Record Production Charges
|Printed||A per-page charge for photocopies or printed copies of requested records||$0.15 per page|
|Electronic Scanned||A per-page charge for converting a record from a printed copy to an electronic format||$0.10 per page|
|Digital storage media or device||Delivered on a DOC purchased portable storage device (e.g., CD, DVD, USB flash drive/thumb drive)||Actual cost of digital storage media or device|
Record Delivery Charges
|Mail Delivery||The delivery of physical printed records or digital storage media or devices||Actual cost of any box or envelope used to mail the copies to the requestor and the actual postage or delivery charge|
|Electronic Delivery||The transmission of public records in an electronic format||$0.05 for every four electronic files or attachments uploaded to email, cloud-based data storage service, or other means of electronic delivery|
Other Possible Charges or Fees
|Charges or Fees||Description||Cost|
|Electronic Transmission Fee||Fees may be applicable for records delivered electronically||$0.10 per gigabyte for the transmission of public records in an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to send the records electronically|
|Customized Service Charges||Charges may be imposed if the request requires the use of information technology expertise to prepare, or provide customized electronic access services||A customized service charge reimburses the agency up to the actual cost of providing the services|
|Deposit||DOC may require a deposit||An amount not to exceed 10% of the estimated cost of providing copies for a request, including a customized service charge|
Per WAC 137-08-110, the department’s payment procedures for charges and fees are as follows:
- Requestors are required to pay for copies in advance of receiving the records.
- Payment should be made by check or money order to the department of corrections. If, at the discretion of the public records officer cash payment is permitted, then the public records officer will also determine the denomination of bills and coins that will be accepted.
- Responsive records may be provided in installments as allowable under RCW 42.56.120(4). Each installment must be either paid for or inspected prior to fulfilling the remainder of the request.
- The department will close a request when the requestor fails within thirty days to pay for a request or an installment or for the required ten percent deposit.