The ACLU of Washington Foundation has filed a lawsuit to prevent the release of government records on transgender prisoners to a private citizen who requested them.
The woman requested information on March 18 about the number of transgender inmates in the custody of the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC), as well as the number of transgender women housed in prisons with biological women and vice versa. The same citizen who filed the request received notice from the ACLU of Washington Foundation and Disability Rights Washington on April 8 that she was being named an interested party in a lawsuit to prevent the release of the records.
The private citizen also requested data on the number of transfers made between male and female prisons in the state in the year 2021.
The @ACLU_WA is suing to prevent a private citizen from receiving public records from @WACorrections relating to transgender inmates. WoLF is taking on her case, fighting this baseless, and ironic, attempt to suppress civil liberties from the @ACLU. https://t.co/8vul9fPxFj
— WoLF (@WomensLibFront) April 14, 2021
The notice, sent by attorneys representing the two organizations, said they were filing for an emergency Temporary Restraining Order and a Motion for Preliminary Injunction to prevent the disclosure of the information about transgender inmates. The suit also named press entities, including The News Tribune in Tacoma, as interested parties. (RELATED: Here Are The States That Want To Ban Trans Surgeries For Minors)
The Washington Public Records Act requires the DOC to respond to the request within five days with at least an acknowledgement of receipt. According to emails provided by the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), which is representing the anonymous citizen who made the request, the DOC acknowledged receipt of the request on March 20 but later followed up that they could not provide the requested information due to the ACLU’s lawsuit.
Deputy Communications Director for the Washington DOC Rachel Ericson told the Daily Caller the department does not comment on pending litigation. No further comment on the situation was offered beyond acknowledging the existence of the five-day response deadline. The DOC has not yet responded to an inquiry on whether or not inmate transfers and prisoner population statistics are typically considered public records.
WoLF legal director Lauren Adams said the ACLU lawsuit “appears to go against everything they used to stand for.” She said the request was only made for aggregate information and required no identifying information that could violate the privacy of transgender inmates.
“The outcome of the case, should the ACLU win their injunction, would be to prevent the public from knowing these aggregate numbers. It appears that the intention of the suit, therefore, is to prevent the public from knowing this data, so that the harm posed to women by forcing them to be housed with violent male prisoners will continue to go under the public’s radar,” Adams added.
The Daily Caller reached out to both the ACLU of Washington Foundation and their representative at the MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless law firm. Neither responded by the time of this publication.
“Big organizations like the ACLU appear to believe that they can bully and intimidate regular people into silence by dragging them into federal court for asking for public information… just because the information is inconvenient to the ACLU’s ideological stance. This behavior is antithetical to the hard-fought liberties that civil society relies on to play its role in the democratic process,” Adams said.