Washington State Department of Corrections
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Wsdoc logo.png
Washington doc badgepatch current.jpg
Badge patch of the Washington State Department of Corrections
MottoWorking together for safe communities.
Agency overview
FormedJuly 1, 1981
Preceding agency
Employees8,300 (2016)[1]
Annual budget$1.8 billion USD (2009)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionWashington, United States
Map of USA WA.svg
Map of Washington State Department of Corrections's jurisdiction.
Size71,300 square miles (185,000 km2)
Population6,724,540 (2010 est.)
General nature
HeadquartersTumwater, Washington

Agency executive
  • Stephen Sinclair, Secretary of Corrections[2]
Work releases16[3]
Washington State Department of Corrections website

The Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) is a department of the government of the state of Washington. WADOC is responsible for administering adult corrections programs operated by the State of Washington. This includes state correctional institutions and programs for people supervised in the community.[4] Its headquarters are in Tumwater.[5]


The modern Washington Department of Corrections is a relatively young state agency. Agency oversight of correctional institutions in Washington State went through several transitions during the 20th century before the WADOC's creation in 1981.

Prior to the 1970s, state correctional facilities were managed by the Washington Department of Institutions.[6] Governor Daniel J. Evans consolidated the Department of Institutions, Department of Public Assistance & Vocational Rehabilitation, and other related departments into the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in the 1970s.[7][8]

On July 1, 1981, the Washington State Legislature transferred the administration of adult correctional institutions from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Adult Corrections (DSHS) to the newly created Washington State Department of Corrections as part of the 1981 Corrections Reform Act.[9]

Organizational structure

The Washington Department of Corrections organizational structure includes five major divisions:

  • Prisons
  • Community Corrections
  • Administrative Services
  • Health Services
  • Offender Change
  • Executive Policy

Each division has an Assistant Secretary who oversees the division's operations.[4]

The Secretary of Corrections is the executive head of the Department. The Secretary is appointed by the Governor with the consent of the state Senate.[4]

Department facilities


The Department currently operates 12 adult prisons, of which 10 are male institutions and two are female institutions.[10] The Department confines over 16,000 people in these facilities, with each varying in size and mission across the state.[11]

Work releases

The Department currently has 16 work release facilities. All but two of these facilities are operated by contractors, who manage the daily safety and security and have oversight of the facilities full-time (24 hours a day, 7 days per week). Department staff are located on site to assist in supervision, monitoring, and case management of those under supervision, as well as monitoring of the contracts.[12]

Formerly incarcerated people housed in work release facilities have progressed from full confinement to partial confinement, and are required to seek, secure, and maintain employment in the community, as well as pay for their room and board. This model is designed to provide some foundation for employment and housing when the formerly incarcerated are released to communities.[8] However, a 2015 Washington Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission symposium revealed that reentry resources for formerly incarcerated people in Washington State are still severely underfunded and disconnected.[13]

Field offices

Community Supervision occurs at varied locations in the community to include: field offices, community justice centers, Community Oriented Policing (COP) Shops and outstations. Activities of supervised people in the community are monitored, which includes home visits, by a Community Corrections Officer to ensure compliance with court, or known as the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, which was the Washington State Board of Prison Terms and Paroles (ISRB), only those individuals who have been deemed rehabilitated by the ISRB are placed on Parole and Department conditions of supervision, such as Community Supervision and/or Community Custody.[8]

Death row

In 2014, Governor Jay Inslee announced a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in Washington State.[14] According to Inslee, "Equal justice under the law is the state's primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I'm not convinced equal justice is being served. The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred."[14] The moratorium means that if a death penalty case comes to the governor's desk for action, he will issue a reprieve.[14] However, this action does not commute the sentences of those on death row or issue any pardons.[14] The majority of Washington's death penalty sentences are overturned and those convicted of capital offenses are rarely executed, indicating questionable sentencing in many cases.[14] Since 1981, the year Washington State's current capital laws were put in place, 32 defendants have been sentenced to die. Of those, 18 have had their sentences converted to life in prison and one was set free.[14]

Prior to Inslee's moratorium, Washington's capital punishment law required that capital punishment imposed by the state's courts be carried out at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Procedures for conducting executions are supervised by the Penitentiary Superintendent.[15] Washington utilizes two methods of execution: lethal injection and hanging. Lethal injection is used unless the inmate under sentence of death chooses hanging as the preferred execution method.[15]

Within 10 days of a trial court entering a judgment and sentence imposing the death penalty, male defendants under sentence of death are transferred to the Penitentiary, where they remain in a segregation unit [Intensive Management Unit North (IMU-N) at the prison] pending appeals and until a death warrant is issued setting the date for the execution. Female defendants under sentence of death are housed at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor before being transferred to the Penitentiary no later than 72 hours prior to a scheduled execution, also housed in IMU North, although the execution chamber is located in Unit 6.[15]

78 persons have been executed in Washington since 1904, the most recent being Cal Coburn Brown, in 2010.[16][15]

Correctional Industries

The Washington Department of Corrections revenue-generating, industry job training, and factory food production branch is Washington State Correctional Industries.[17] It is a member of the National Correctional Industries Association.[18]

Correctional Industries began centralizing food production at the Airway Heights Correctional Center in 1995.[19] In the years since, freshly cooked food for incarcerated people in Washington prisons has gradually and in large part been replaced by factory processed, prepackaged food.

Private contracts

Private prisons

On May 21, 2015, The GEO Group announced the signing of a contract with the Washington Department of Corrections for the out-of-state housing of up to 1,000 prisoners at the company-owned North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan, with a contract term of five years inclusive of renewal option periods.[20]

Food vendors

Under the Washington state Food Umbrella Contract, WA DOC's Correctional Industries procures products from Food Services of America, Liberty Distributing, Medosweet Farms, Spokane Produce, Terry Dairy's, Triple "B" Corporations, and Unisource.[21] WA DOC also contracts with Evergreen Vending, Coca-Cola, and other private food vendors for its facility vending machines.


WA DOC contracts with JPay, a private company that charges the incarcerated and their families for electronic mail, photo-sharing, money transfer, and video visiting services.[22] Phone services for the incarcerated and their families are through WA DOC's contract with Global Tel Link.[23]

Secretary of Corrections

The Secretary of Corrections in Washington State is a cabinet level position appointed by the state governor. This position differs from the historical Director of the Washington Department of Institutions in its educational requirements. In the 1950s and 1960s, Washington law mandated that Directors of the Department of Institutions were required to hold graduate degrees.[6] The modern Washington Department of Corrections has no such requirements for its Secretary of Corrections.


Paramilitary culture

WADOC is a paramilitary organization and values respect for chain of command and seniority. The Department recruits much of its correctional staff from Joint Base Lewis–McChord career fairs.[24]

Labor union

Non-management positions in the Washington Department of Corrections are negotiated by the Teamsters Local 117 labor union.[25]

Honor guard

WADOC Honor Guard protocols are governed by WADOC Policy 870.440.[26] Individual WADOC correctional facilities are not required to maintain an Honor Guard.[26] As of 2013, only five of WADOC's 12 facilities maintained an active Honor Guard.[26] Facility superintendents and Chiefs of Emergency Operation are responsible for selecting Honor Guard members and approving Honor Guard participation in local events.[26]

Line of duty deaths

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page Web site, since the inception of what is currently the Washington State Department of Corrections, six employees have been killed in the line of duty.[27]

The most well-known line of duty death in recent WADOC history was that of Jayme Biendl in 2011.[28] This incident has been called "the Washington Department of Corrections 9-11", as it resulted in dramatic changes to WADOC security protocols and programs for incarcerated people. An annual Behind the Badge memorial run is held in honor of Biendl's service.[29]

Key issues

In 2012, WADOC correctional officers advocated for improved uniforms in keeping with the standards of uniforms of other Washington law enforcement agencies.[30] Prior to 2012, correctional officer uniforms were made by incarcerated people in industry job positions.[30] This provided 100 jobs for incarcerated people, as well as eight supervisory correctional officer positions.[30] Officer Carl Beatty was a public spokesman for a shift to uniforms made by outside manufacturers, with the result that House Bill 2346 passed during the 2012 Washington State Regular Legislative Session.[31] This bill removed the requirement that correctional officer uniforms come from Correctional Industries.[31] WA DOC Policy 870.400 lists detailed requirements for staff uniforms.[32]


In 2007, the Washington Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) spearheaded legislative efforts to create an independent ombudsman position that would provide an alternative avenue of mediation between WADOC, WADOC staff, incarcerated people, and family members of the incarcerated.[33] The resulting bill, SB 5295—sponsored by state Senators Jim Kastama, Dan Swecker, Karen Fraser, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Chris Marr, Debbie Regala, Marilyn Rasmussen, and Rosemary McAuliffe[33]—was not successful. In the years since, many other community groups have added their support for these legislative efforts. Annual attempts to pass an independent ombudsman bill began in 2013 with SB 5177, sponsored by Senators Mike Carrell and Steve Conway.[34] In 2014, Senators Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Steve O'Ban, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Annette Cleveland sponsored SB 6399.[35] In 2015, Senators Jeannie Darneille, Rosemary McAuliffe, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Steve O'Ban, Maralyn Chase, Bob Hasegawa, Karen Keiser, Kirk Pearson, Steve Conway, and David Frockt sponsored SB 5505, with Representatives Luis Moscoso, Roger Goodman, Eric Pettigrew, Sherry Appleton, Tina Orwall, Timm Ormsby, and Laurie Jinkins sponsoring companion bill HB 2005.[36][37]

In the 2016 legislative session, Senators Mark Miloscia, Christine Rolfes, Kirk Pearson, Steve O'Ban, Steve Conway, and Rosemary McAuliffe sponsored unsuccessful SB 6154, with Representatives Luis Moscoso, Eric Pettigrew, Sherry Appleton, Tina Orwall, David Sawyer, Cindy Ryu, Derek Stanford, Gerry Pollet, Teri Hickel, Steve Bergquist, and Sharon Tomiko Santos sponsoring companion HB 2817.[38][39]

In the 2017-2018 legislative session an ombudsman bill, HB 1889, passed both chambers of the legislature.[40]

WADOC opposed these legislative efforts. In 2016, WADOC created its own internal ombudsman position. Carlos Lugo, who had previously worked on a special WADOC project concerning visitation access for Latino incarcerated people, was hired as the first WADOC ombudsman.[41]


The WADOC Intelligence and Investigations Unit asked the FBI to become involved in the investigation of employee contraband smuggling at WADOC's Monroe Correctional Complex smuggling in December 2015.[42] A correctional officer was arrested on September 29, 2016.[42] FBI agents determined the officer was accepting bribes of up to $1,000 to smuggle contraband into the prison.[42]

In August 2016 a 23-year-old incarcerated man at Monroe Correctional Complex died from a drug overdose, causing renewed concerns statewide about contraband entering WADOC prisons.[43]

Sustainability in Prisons Project

At Cedar Creek Corrections Center in 2003, the Washington State Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College founded the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP).[44] Dan Pacholke was Cedar Creek Correctional Center's superintendent at the time, and started composting and water catchment programs to save money and create meaningful work for the men incarcerated at the minimum security facility.[44] Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, a member of the faculty at Evergreen, asked for incarcerated people to join her in a study to grow native mosses, and Cedar Creek welcomed her proposal.[44] From here, the partnership between Evergreen and WADOC strengthened and expanded. In the decade plus since, SPP has expanded to several other WADOC prisons. Incarcerated people raise endangered species and carry out impressive composting operations using recycled construction materials.[44]

Timeline of key events

  • 1981 - New Department of Corrections is created to oversee correctional institutions previously overseen by Department of Social and Health Services.[45]
  • 1984 - Sentencing Review Act (SRA) overhauls state's criminal code.[46]
  • 1995 - Correctional Industries centralized factory food production begins at Airway Heights Correctional Center.[19]
  • 2000s - Incarcerated people are required to order food packages from a few select contract vendors instead of local grocery stores.
  • 2003 - DOC and Evergreen State College collaborate to found the Sustainability in Prisons Project
  • 2009 - Incarcerated people are required to wear uniforms instead of personal clothing.
  • 2011 - Line of duty death of Officer Jayme Biendl brings increased attention to security.
  • 2015 - State Senate passes SB 5650, establishing a medical subaccount exempt from WADOC deductions to incarcerated people's personal accounts.[47]
  • 2016 - WADOC hires an internal ombudsman.[41] Secretary Dick Morgan publicly states that the WADOC will phase out the use of the word "offender".[48]

See also


  1. ^ "Acitizen's guide to the Washington State budget February 9, 2017." Retrieved on February 9, 2017.
  2. ^ "Inslee names Stephen Sinclair secretary of the Department of Corrections." Retrieved on April 27, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "DOC Fact Card December 31, 2016." Retrieved on February 9, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "About DOC." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "Contact Us." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 25, 2012. "Physical Address: 7345 Linderson Way SW Tumwater, WA 98501-6504"
  6. ^ a b "Conte, William R. Is Prison Reform Possible?: The Washington State Experience in the Sixties. Unique Press, 1990."
  7. ^ "The Arc: WA State" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "Agency - WA State Department of Corrections".
  9. ^ "Corrections Reform Act of 1981 c 136 § 3., RCW 72.09.030" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  10. ^ "Prisons - Locations." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  11. ^ "Learn More About Prisons." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  12. ^ "Work Release - Locations." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "REENTRY: DO WE REALLY CARE ABOUT PEOPLE SUCCEEDING AFTER PRISON? May 28, 2015." Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Gov. Jay Inslee announces capital punishment moratorium" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d "Capital Punishment in Washington State." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on December 19, 2016.
  16. ^ "Persons Executed Since 1904 in Washington State" (PDF). Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "Home -- Washington State Correctional Industries". www.washingtonci.com. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "National Correctional Industries Association". National Correctional Industries Association. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Washington Prison Food Factory Cooks Up Controversy." Prison Legal News. Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  20. ^ "The GEO Group Announces Contract to House Washington Inmates at North Lake Correctional Facility in Michigan". www.businesswire.com. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  21. ^ "Food Umbrella Contract - State Contracts - Customer Care -- Washington State Correctional Industries". www.washingtonci.com. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  22. ^ "Washington State Department of Corrections". www.jpay.com. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  23. ^ "ConnectNetwork Phone Service - Washington State Department of Corrections". www.doc.wa.gov.
  24. ^ "2015 Washington State Transition Fair." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  25. ^ "Corrections & Law Enforcement". Teamsters 117. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  26. ^ a b c d "Dress Uniform and Honor Guard.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  27. ^ "Washington State Department of Corrections, WA". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP).
  28. ^ "Jayme Biendl: Prison Guard Strangled At Washington State Prison Chapel". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "Retrieved September 19, 2016".
  30. ^ a b c ""Corrections officers push lawmakers for better uniforms" Everett Herald. February 13, 2012.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  31. ^ a b "HB 2346." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  32. ^ "DOC 870.400." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  33. ^ a b "SB 5295. SB 5295." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  34. ^ "SB 5177." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  35. ^ "SB 6399." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  36. ^ "SB 5505." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  37. ^ "HB 2005." Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  38. ^ "SB 6154.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  39. ^ "HB 2817.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  40. ^ "Washington State Legislature". apps2.leg.wa.gov. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  41. ^ a b "PRESS RELEASE: Corrections Appoints Carlos Lugo as Department Ombuds.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  42. ^ a b c ""Monroe Prison Guard Charged with Extortion and Attempted Drug Trafficking"." Department of Justice. Retrieved on October 2, 2016.
  43. ^ ""Police investigating death of inmate at Monroe prison"." Everett Herald. August 2, 2016. Retrieved on October 2, 2016.
  44. ^ a b c d "Sustainability in Prisons Project History.." Retrieved on September 27, 2016.
  45. ^ "2011 DOC Employees." Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  46. ^ "Conversation with Chase Riveland, Head of Washington Corrections when the tough-on-crime wave hit. Washblog" Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  47. ^ "SB 5650." Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  48. ^ ""Not wanting to offend, Washington state scraps 'offender' label for inmates". Seattle Times. Retrieved April 27, 2017.

External links

  • Official website
  • Washington State Correctional Industries
  • doc.wa.gov