Prisoners prying into DOC officers’ lives

MONROE, Wash. – Prisoners are prying into the lives of corrections officers and using taxpayer money to do it.

It’s terrifying for families and a huge burden on the Department of Corrections. Now there’s a push in the Legislature to make it stop.

Janet, the wife of a corrections officer, is scared. She doesn’t want KING 5 News to use her last name. Last weekend, a notice from the DOC arrived in the mail.

Joseph Simmons, a prisoner at the Monroe Correctional Complex, wants information about her husband and every other guard who works there.

“Date of birth, gender, race, date of hire, current employment job title, annual pay, pay rate, height and weight,” she said.

Janet was frightened to learn that since they are government employees, a lot of that information is a matter of public record, available to convicted pedophiles, rapists and even murderers.

“What I don’t understand is why an inmate is allowed to jeopardize the safety and security of hundreds of families and use the taxpayers dollars to do it,” Janet said.

By no means is this a unique case. In 2007, the DOC printed out 350,000 pages of documents for prisoners. Total cost to taxpayers? More than a quarter million dollars.

“So clearly there’s a group of folks who are involved in the recreational use of the public disclosure statute for the purposes of harassing and annoying the department and staff members,” said John Scott Blonien, assistant secretary at the DOC.

One inmate has filed 800 requests. It’s become a full-time job for a clerk who does nothing else but process that one prisoner’s paperwork. It’s why the Legislature is now considering a law that would limit inmate access to public records.

Janet says it would save others the fear that has gripped her family.

“I’m looking into getting a security system,” Janet said. “I’m looking into several different options, because I have two small children.”

Janet could join others in paying an attorney to fight the release of the records.

But there’s no guarantee the records would be withheld.

source: / video http://www.king5.com/localnews/stories/NW_021898WAB-doc-guards-prisoners_KS.2c55aafa.html

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