WILL Sues State Agency for Failing to Provide Public Records to News Company

Wisconsin Parole Commission for months has failed to provide public records to conservative news outlet Wisconsin Right Now, as required by state law

The News: Today, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed suit in Washington County Circuit Court on behalf of Wisconsin Right Now, a Wisconsin-based conservative news outlet that sought public records from the Wisconsin Parole Commission (WPC). Despite having months to fulfill the request, WPC failed to comply with the public records law and did not turn over the requested records.

WILL Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, said, “State agencies are required to comply with the public records law. The Parole Commission’s unreasonable and unexplained delay in providing responsive records is unlawful, and we will pursue every legal angle on behalf of Wisconsin Right Now until the requested records have been turned over.”

Client Quote: Jim Piwowarczyk, co-founder and editor of Wisconsin Right Now, said, “We believe the public has a right to know who is being released on parole and the communities where they reside. The open records laws are meant to empower the citizens and a free press to be watchdogs over the actions of government, especially when they could imperil public safety. We want to know who received parole grants in 2022 to educate the public on this important public safety issue.”

Background: In May of this year, Wisconsin Right Now reporter Jessica McBride submitted a public records request to the Wisconsin Parole Commission seeking a list of all inmates who were paroled over a period of several years, through 2022. The commission initially responded in June with records through the end of 2021, but none from calendar year 2022. The commission stated it would provide records for 2022 once those were pulled together, but provided no timeline for when that request would ultimately be fulfilled.

The Lawsuit: Wisconsin Right Now staff sent repeated follow-up correspondence to WPC, seeking an update on their request, and never received a response or the remaining records.

As a result, this lawsuit urges WPC to comply with their statutory obligations by turning over the records.

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Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

lucas@will-law.org

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