In April 2021, Disability Rights Washington (DRW); the ACLU of Washington; Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP; and MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless sued the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) in Doe v. DOC on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated transgender people, many of whom have disabilities. This lawsuit sought to stop DOC from releasing their personal and private information, including medical and mental health information, transgender status, and history of sexual victimization.
Related to this case, in 2022, DRW supported the Washington State Legislature’s passage of ESHB 1956 (now codified as RCW 42.56.475), which protects from public release certain highly sensitive records about all currently and formerly incarcerated people, including body scanner images; records relating to sexual abuse; a person’s transgender status; and medical, mental health, and dental information outside of patient files.
On July 12, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington entered a consent decree in Doe v. DOC that requires DOC to protect this sensitive information and to train all staff responsible for the public release of information. Protecting this information is critically important to preserve the privacy of all currently and formerly incarcerated people, including people with disabilities, and will help protect them from doxing, harassment, and assault both in prison and in the community, while ensuring that the public, incarcerated individuals, and their loved ones have the tools to access public records and hold the prison system accountable.