Skip to main content

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 ).

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 RecordsAdobe PDF file.

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 formerly 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, , must be submitted in writing to the DOC Public Records Officer. Each request should include:

Incarcerated Individuals 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

Incarcerated Individual 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
Health Records

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.

Judicial Review

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

Record Format Description
Printed Records Photocopies of public records or printed copies of electronic public records
Electronic Records Public records in electronic format

Record Production Charges

Production Method Description Cost
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

Delivery Method Description Cost
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

Payment Procedures

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.