Washington State may not keep secret the names of prison medical workers who botched the treatment of inmates or hide the identity of people who witnessed the misconduct, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The decision was a victory for former prisoner Paul Wright, editor of Seattle-based Prison Legal News. He has tried for more than five years to get the information from the state.
The Department of Corrections argued that revealing the names of disciplined staff and the people who’d reported them “jeopardizes the safety and security of the institutions, as well as the inmates.” A 6-3 court majority said the state — which gave Wright 1,200 pages of documents — should not have blacked out the names of the disciplined medical staff members and witnesses. The court rejected the state’s argument that revealing the names would cause reprisals, finding it unlikely that an inmate who reported shoddy treatment would be at risk from fellow inmates, or that it would prompt staff members to retaliate. Justices said the state should not have withheld information about inmates’ treatment and medical conditions simply by deeming it private health care information.