Public Records

What is the Public Records Act?

The Public Records Act was enacted by initiative in 1972 requiring that the public be provided liberal access to Department records RCW 42.56.030.

What is a Public Record?

Per RCW 42.56.010 a “public record” includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.

If you are not aware of the title of a specific record, information such as subject matter, dates, location, persons⁄issues involved, etc...will help staff to locate any records responsive to a specific request. Reminder – a general question is not a public records request.

How Do I Make a Public Records Request?

Per WAC 137-08-090 all requests (other than an incarcerated offender’s request to inspect his⁄her central or health record) must be submitted to the Public Records Officer:

  • Fax request to (360) 586-0287>
  • For copies of patient chemical dependency records, the following release authoriztion must be filled out completely, signed and dated by the patient: CD release authorization
  • For copies of patient health records, the following authorization for release must be filled out completely, signed and dated by the patient: Health Records release authorization
  • Public Disclosure Appeals address:
    • Department of Corrections
      Public Disclosure Appeals
      Post Office Box 41103
      Olympia, Washington 98504-1103

What is a Statutory Exemption?

Exemptions are generally intended to prevent invasion of privacy and the use of public records for personal, commercial, or political gain. Further, exemptions are intended to restrict disclosure of some details within specific areas of the law, such as criminal non–conviction data and the protection of health care information. Some of the information that may be exempt includes:

  • Information regarding agency personnel and volunteers, such as home phone numbers, home addresses, and employment applications
  • Social security numbers
  • Examination test scores
  • Victim⁄Witness identification
  • Non conviction data
  • Health diagnosis
  • Certain investigative records

Does the Public Records Act Apply to Me?

Any person may make a public records request for agency records.

What Types of Records Can I Get?

Many types of records are available from the department. The following chart describes some of the commonly requested documents. The chart provides links for more information on how to obtain those records. If you are interested in a record that does not appear in this chart, you may contact the public disclosure unit prior to submitting your request to verify that the department has the records you want.

TYPE OF RECORD TYPE OF INFORMATION HOW TO OBTAIN RECORDS
Administrative Records:
Directory of Staff and Offices Department organization chart and contacts See About Us
Forms Forms for recording various types of information used internally of the Department. See the Budget Resource Management Contracts Information
Policies Published guidelines for compliance with the overall goals of the Department See DOC Policies
Publications Brochures, catalogs, guidebooks, handbooks, manuals, annual and biennial reports, special reports, newsletters, periodicals, pamphlets, and other printed material intended for general dissemination to the public or the Legislature See DOC Budget Publications
Strategic Plan Published by the department before each biennium, creating the framework for agency activities and budget decisions See DOC Strategic Plan (PDF)
Offender Records:
Central File Legal, movement, classification, progress, intake and release information maintained on offenders under the jurisdiction and committed to the custody of a department facility Public Disclosure Request
Field File Supervision information for offenders under department supervision Public Disclosure Request
Health Record Offender healthcare information, including physical, dental and mental health care records CONFIDENTIAL –– unless offender approves release
OBTS File Offender Based Tracking System – Electronic file of current and historical information on offenders under the jurisdiction of the department Public Disclosure Request
Chemical Dependency File Chemical dependency diagnosis, treatment and discharge information CONFIDENTIAL –– unless offender approves release
OMNI File Project plans and documents relating to developing and testing the Offender Management Network Information project Public Disclosure Request
Classification File Offender risk evaluation and management information Public Disclosure Request
End of Sentence Review File Information relating to release of kidnap⁄sex offenders Much of the information is CONFIDENTIAL –– See link below for Public Disclosure Unit
Personnel Records:
Employee Handbook General employment information Public Disclosure Request
Personnel FIles Employment–related information for department employees Public Disclosure Request
Payroll Files Salary and benefits related information for department employees Public Disclosure Request

What is the Copy Fee?

The public disclosure copy fee is 20 cents per page, plus postage, as established in RCW 42.56.120 and WAC 137-08-110(2). Payment must be received before records will be mailed to the requestor.

Fees for health care records are charged in accordance with RCW 70.02.030 and WAC 246-08-400.

What Should Happen If I No Longer Need Requested Documents?

If you have made a public records request and no longer need the documents, please notify the Department so that taxpayer money and staff time are not spent on requests that will not be claimed.

What if I disagree with the processing of my request?

Public Records decisions may be appealed in writing to the Agency Appeals Office. To appeal a decision, provide a detailed description of your reasons for appeal, which must reference the public disclosure log number you wish to appeal. Appeals can be sent to PO Box 41103, Olympia, WA 98504-1103 or electronically to docpdappeals@DOC1.wa.gov. If you have general appeal questions you may call (360) 725-8586.

Questions?

If you have any questions regarding the public disclosure process, please contact the Department Public Disclosure Unit at:

Email: docpublicdisclosureunit@doc.wa.gov
Phone: (360) 725-8673
Fax: (360) 586-0287
Address: Post Office Box 41118
Olympia, Washington 98504-1118