Olympia Votes to Limit Inmates’ Access to Records

By a nearly unanimous margin, our lawmakers in Olympia voted Wednesday to empower judges with the right to thwart inmates’ public records requests.

The House voted 94-2 in favor of the measure —  Senate Bill 5130 — sponsored by sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, a Republican from Lakewood (pictured). The senate had already passed it unanimously, according to a press release.

Here’s the rub on what will likely become new law, once Gov. Christine Gregoire puts ink on it. It would give a judge the authority to reject a public records request from a “person serving a criminal sentence,” if:

  • The court believes the request “was made to harass or intimidate the agency, its employees, or any person”;
  • The court finds releasing the records would, “likely threaten the security of correctional facilities, the safety and security of staff or other persons, or the deterrence of criminal activity.”

Carrell had this to say about the legislation:

“This bill will not only save taxpayers money in the form of wasted time, energy and materials, it will also keep the public safer,” Carrell said. “Inmates who abuse the Public Records Act are often trolling for information they can use against corrections officers, police officers, lawyers, judges and others, and any threat to those individuals is a threat to all of us.”

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