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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bill aims to stop prisoners from creating flood of records requests

A Washington Senate bill would allow courts to enjoin public records requests filed by prisoners in state correctional facilities, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Supporters say the bill is necessary to stop prisoners from overwhelming the system with absurd requests, such as one asking the number of paper bags bought annually at each Department of Corrections facility. Others are worried that the vague language of the bill may make it applicable to other citizens.
The state Public Records Act of 1972 says its terms should be liberally applied to all citizens, but Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, thinks the law may be too liberal.

Carrell said it "isn't appropriate" to allow certain individuals unlimited access to public records, comparing what has been deemed excessive public record gathering to overfishing a sea of information. The ones doing the overfishing, he said, are those serving time in correctional facilities in Washington state.

The Attorney General's Office says about a half-dozen inmates are abusing the Public Records Act to threaten correctional staffers and overwhelm the system as a means to harass those responsible for keeping them behind bars.

More here.

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