Protecting Sensitive Prison Records
DRW supports House Bill 1956, which would add a Public Records Act (PRA) exemption for sensitive records about incarcerated individuals in the Department of Corrections. Such records include some of the most sensitive information about people, including their disability status, history of sexual assault, transgender status, sexual orientation, body scanner images of all of the women incarcerated at WCCW, and behavioral and mental health information that is outside of a medical record. Such information and more is at risk of being disclosed without an explicit exemption in the PRA. Releasing these records will put people at serious risk of harm, including assault and harassment, and violate their right to privacy.
DRW and other advocates became involved in this issue after multiple parties, including media companies and a person connected to an anti-trans hate group, made PRA requests about transgender people in prison that we believe were designed to harm transgender people with disabilities. DRW and our partners filed an emergency lawsuit, and won a preliminary injunction after a federal judge found that releasing sensitive records would put people at serious risk of harm and violate their right to privacy. However, DOC has filed an appeal. We believe that legislation modeled on the preliminary injunction is the best way to guarantee such sensitive records remain private and people in prison are kept safe.
Declarations* From John and Jane Doe Plaintiffs:
*Trigger Warning: The information shared in these declarations include history of being sexually victimized.
- Declaration of John Doe 1
- Declaration of John Doe 2
- Declaration of Jane Doe 1
- Declaration of Jane Doe 2
- Declaration of Jane Doe 3
Testimony on HB 1956 from Representative David Hackney: