How To Request Public Records, State by State


Here are excellent links to sample forms for the requesting of public records.

What are Public Records? That depends on your state. Generally, Public Records are records that have a "public interest" of some sort. This is complex, but, prisoner records, law enforcement records, and government records are generally Public Records.

When police, and corrections employees act up, we can, and SHOULD, request their records.

Be unique, and see what you get. For example, if the subject of the records was on Facebook posting "#FeelingCute" images during his employment shift -as a government official- and the public has a clear interest in the #FeelingCute campaign, the logic is that his social media (which is being paid for by tax dollars) is also Public Records.

Personnel Files, Prisoner Files, Grievances, Complaints, Commendations, Payroll Records, the list of possible Public Records is endless. It is up the agency to determine -AND JUSTIFY- what is, and is not Public Record.

So, REQUEST EVERYTHING and ANYTHING and see what you will get.

Be specific as to the Subject of the Records, but beyond that, use "any and all records in the employment file of Corrections Officer John Smith", or "the entire case management and parole with any and all records for Offender Jason Beaz".

Or be specific to an incident "on January 20, 2015 Jessica Rabbit appeared before the Parole Board and was denied parole release. I am requesting any and all records that was viewed by the Parole Board and the recording of the Parole Board appearance on this date."

If you get a denial, modify the request and send it bad. FLOOD THEM. You can put all your requests on one request form, or 100 individual requests. YOU DECIDE.

Generally, there is a $0.25 per page copying fee for responsive records.

If you get denied, or know something is present and they are withholding them, write them back, and be more specific as to why you want the records, why they are in the public interest, and narrow the request to how you know the records exists.

Save a copy of everything (your letters, and any responses). Eventually you may need to present them to an agency like the American Civil Liberties Union to see if their is a way to force the release of records via the Court. (Down the road, make the requests and see what you get for now... and SAVE SAVE SAVE.)

~Joey Camp