OLYMPIA, Wash., April 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against a private citizen for requesting public records from the Washington State Department of Corrections on the number of inmates in state custody who identify as transgender and the number of male inmates who are housed in women's facilities.
The citizen, a woman who has asked not to be named for her safety, submitted the public records request on March 18, 2021. She is now being represented by WoLF in responding to the lawsuit.
The Washington Public Records Act guarantees that citizens have the right to access public records, and requires the government to respond to requests within five days.
A complete and accurate count of inmates who identify as transgender (gender identity differs from sex identified at birth) in the custody of the Washington Department of Corrections [please break this information down by location].
Number of inmates that have been transferred from a men's facility to a women's facility since January 01, 2021.
Total number of male persons who identify as female, non-binary, or any other gender identity that are currently housed in a women's facility.
Number of inmates who have transferred from a women's facility to a men's facility from January 01, 2021 to March 18, 2021.
Number of female persons who identify as male, non-binary or any other gender identity that are currently housed in a men's facility.
The Washington Department of Corrections did not respond to the public request within the given time period.
On April 8, the citizen received email notification that the ACLU of Washington Foundation had named her personally in a lawsuit to prevent the information from being released.
The ACLU also named members of the press, including The News Tribune, a Tacoma-based paper, in the lawsuit.
The ACLU of Washington has specifically advocated for the expansion of the Public Records Act in the past, stating, "Transparency is at the heart of democracy and today's decision affirms the right of the public to know about the work of the legislators that represent them."
WoLF plans to fight this lawsuit, which is clearly aimed at suppressing citizen's rights to access public records.
Lauren Adams, WoLF Legal Director said, "It is troubling both that the ACLU is seeking to silence and intimidate an individual who is petitioning their government, as well as attacking the free press."
In a twist of irony, the citizen tells us she used resources provided on the ACLU's website to draft the public records request which they are now seeking to squash.