Washington State Department of Corrections

Washington State Department of Corrections
Abbreviation WADOC

Patch of the Washington State Department of Corrections

Logo of the Washington State Department of Corrections

Badge Patch of the Washington State Department of Corrections
Motto Working together for safe communities.
Agency overview
Formed May, 1981
Preceding agency Washington Department of Social and Health Services
Employees 8,200 (2016)
Annual budget $1.8 billion USD (2009)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Washington, USA
Map of Washington State Department of Corrections's jurisdiction.
Size 71,300 square miles (185,000 km2)
Population 6,724,540 (2010 est.)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Tumwater, Washington
Agency executive Richard Morgan, Secretary of Corrections
Work Releases 15
Prisons 12
Washington State Department of Corrections Website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

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.[1] Its headquarters are in Tumwater.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4][5]

In May 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.[6]

Organizational structure

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

Each division has an Assistant Secretary who oversees the division's operations.[1]

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.[1]

Department facilities


The Department currently operates 12 adult prisons, of which 10 are male institutions and 2 are female institutions.[7] The Department confines nearly 16,000 people in these facilities, with each varying in size and mission across the state.[8]

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.[9]

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.[5] However, a 2015 Washington Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission symposium revealed that reentry resources for formerly incarcerated people in Washingotn State are still severely underfunded and disconnected.[10]

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.[5]

Death row

In 2014, Governor Jay Inslee announced a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in Washington State.[11] 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.”[11] The moratorium means that if a death penalty case comes to the governor’s desk for action, he will issue a reprieve.[11] However, this action does not commute the sentences of those on death row or issue any pardons.[11] 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.[11] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[12]

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.[12]

78 persons have been executed in Washington since 1904, the most recent being Cal Coburn Brown, in 2010.[13]

Correctional Industries

The Washington Department of Corrections revenue-generating, industry job training, and factory food production branch is Washington State Correctional Industries.[14] It is a member of the National Correctional Industries Association.[15]

Correctional Industries began centralizing food production at the Airway Heights Correctional Center in 1995.[16] 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.

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.[3] The modern Washington Department of Corrections has no such requirements for its Secretary of Corrections.

Amos Reed

Amos Reed, appointed by Governor John Spellman, served as the first Washington State Secretary of Corrections from 1981 to 1986.[17]

Prior to his position as Secretary, Reed served as an administrator in the Oregon Department of Corrections from 1969-1975.[18]

Chase Riveland

Chase Riveland was appointed Secretary of Corrections by Governor Booth Gardner in 1986.[19] He retired in 1997.[19] Riveland drew criticism from Republican lawmakers who felt he was not harsh enough on incarcerated people.[19] However, Riveland's cautions against politically-driven policies have proven prescient in the mass incarceration decades that followed his time as Secretary.[20] By 2008, the quantity of people incarcerated in Washington had more than tripled since the time Riveland had first come to WADOC.[20]

Joseph D. Lehman

Joe Lehman was a graduate of St. Martin's College and Pacific Lutheran University. He spent 21 years as a probation and parole officer and deputy secretary in Washington's prison system. Lehman was appointed Secretary of Corrections by Governor Gary Locke in 1997, and served until 2005.[19] Prior to serving as WADOC Secretary, Lehman oversaw Pennsylvania's largest prison expansion in state history and then worked for the Maine correctional system.[19] In 1994, Lehman won the Association of State Correctional Administrators Francke Award.[21] Lehman's starting salary as WADOC Secretary was $93,659[19] He oversaw WADOC at a time when the Department had a budget of $765 million, with 12,825 incarcerated people and 6,300 employees.[19]

Harold Clarke

Harold Clarke, appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire, served as Secretary of Corrections from 2005 until his resignation in late 2007.[22][23] Prior to his appointment, he directed the Nebraska Department of Corrections, where he had climbed through the ranks for over twenty years. He resigned as WADOC Secretary amid controversy over probation supervision to take a position as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.[22]

Eldon Vail

Eldon Vail returned from retirement after 31 years with WADOC to serve as Acting Secretary of Corrections until his formal appointment as Secretary by Governor Christine Gregoire in 2008.[24] Vail resigned amid controversy over an affair with a subordinate in 2011.[25]

Bernard Warner

Bernard Warner was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire as Secretary of Corrections in 2011.[26] Warner resigned in 2015 to take a position at a private Salt Lake City corrections industry.[27]

Dan Pacholke

Governor Jay Inslee appointed Dan Pacholke Secretary of Corrections in 2015.[28] Pacholke began his career in WADOC in 1982 as a correctional officer at McNeil Island Corrections Center.[28] He worked his way through the ranks until he was appointed Secretary. Pacholke resigned after a short tenure amid controversy over a WADOC computer glitch that caused the somewhat early release of approximately 3,000 incarcerated people over more than a decade.[29][30] Some formerly incarcerated people who had established new lives upon early release were reincarcerated in response to public and political outcry over the early releases.[30] The early release scandal became an expression of more complex political relationships in anticipation of the 2016 Washington State election season. In a resignation email to Senator Mike Padden—one of the most conservative members of the Washington State Senate's Law and Justice Committee—Pacholke wrote, "I notify you now of my resignation. I hope it helps meet your need for blood. I hope it gives you fodder for the press and fulfills your political needs so you can let this agency, our agency, heal."[31] Former Secretary of Corrections Bernie Warner told the media he did not know about the computer glitch until notified by Governor Jay Inslee's general counsel.[32] However, Pacholke told the media that Warner’s assistant secretary knew of the mistaken early release of prisoners as early as 2012.[32]

Since leaving WADOC, Pacholke has become the co-director at Segregation Solutions.[33] He has co-authored a report with Sandy Felkey Mullins on segregation practices for the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance titled "More Than Emptying Beds: A Systems Approach to Segregation Reform".[34]

Richard Morgan

Richard “Dick” Morgan returned from retirement after more than three decades of employment with WADOC to be appointed by Governor Jay Inslee as Acting Secretary in 2016.[35] A new Secretary is expected to be appointed in January 2017. Morgan serves as a member of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board and of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.[35]


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.[36]

Labor union

Non-management positions in the Washington Department of Corrections are negotiated by the Teamsters Local 117 labor union.[37]

Honor guard

WADOC Honor Guard protocols are governed by WADOC Policy 870.440.[38] Individual WADOC correctional facilities are not required to maintain an Honor Guard.[38] As of 2013, only five of WADOC's 12 facilities maintained an active Honor Guard.[38] Facility superintendents and Chiefs of Emergency Operation are responsible for selecting Honor Guard members and approving Honor Guard participation in local events.[38]

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.[39]

The most well-known line of duty death in recent WADOC history was that of Jayme Biendl in 2011.[40] This tragedy 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.[41]

Key issues

In 2012, WADOC correctional officers advocated for improved uniforms in keeping with the standards of uniforms of other Washington law enforcement agencies.[42] Prior to 2012, correctional officer uniforms were made by incarcerated people in industry job positions.[42] This provided 100 jobs for incarcerated people, as well as eight supervisory correctional officer positions.[42] 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.[43] This bill removed the requirement that correctional officer uniforms come from Correctional Industries.[43] WA DOC Policy 870.400 lists detailed requirements for staff uniforms.[44]


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.[45] 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[45]—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.[46] In 2014, Senators Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Steve O'Ban, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Annette Cleveland sponsored SB 6399.[47] 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.[48][49]

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.[50][51]

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.[52]


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.[53] A correctional officer was arrested on September 29, 2016.[53] FBI agents determined the officer was accepting bribes of up to $1,000 to smuggle contraband into the prison.[53]

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.[54]

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).[55] 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.[55] 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.[55] 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.[55]

Timeline of key events

• 1981 - New Department of Corrections created to oversee correctional institutions previously overseen by Department of Social and Health Services.[56]

• 1984 - Sentencing Review Act (SRA) overhauls state's criminal code.[20]

• 1995 - Correctional Industries centralized factory food production begins at Airway Heights Correctional Center.[16]

• 2000s - Incarcerated people 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 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.[57]

• 2016 - WADOC hires an internal ombudsmen[52]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "About DOC." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  2. "Contact Us." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 25, 2012. "Physical Address: 7345 Linderson Way SW Tumwater, WA 98501-6504"
  3. 1 2 "Conte, William R. Is Prison Reform Possible?: The Washington State Experience in the Sixties. Unique Press, 1990."
  4. "The Arc: WA State" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 Agency - WA State Department of Corrections
  6. "Corrections Reform Act of 1981 c 136 § 3., RCW 72.09.030" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  7. "Prisons - Locations." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  8. "Learn More About Prisons." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  9. "Work Release - Locations." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  10. "REENTRY: DO WE REALLY CARE ABOUT PEOPLE SUCCEEDING AFTER PRISON? May 28, 2015." Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Gov. Jay Inslee announces capital punishment moratorium" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  12. 1 2 3 "Capital Punishment in Washington State." Washington State Department of Corrections. Retrieved on August 26, 2010.
  13. "Persons Executed Since 1904 in Washington State". Offender Info. Washington Department of Corrections. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  14. "https://www.washingtonci.com/". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  15. "http://www.nationalcia.org/". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  16. 1 2 "Washington Prison Food Factory Cooks Up Controversy." Prison Legal News. Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  17. Colson, Charles W. Kingdoms in conflict. Zondervan, 1987. Available on Google Books as of September 20, 2016.
  18. "http://www.asca.net/system/assets/attachments/6865/Former%20Directors%20State%20by%20State%20Listing%20-%20Working%20Document.pdf?1395157881." Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Locke Picks New Prisons Chief." Kitsap Sun 27 Feb. 1997: n. pag. Print.
  20. 1 2 3 "Conversation with Chase Riveland, Head of Washington Corrections when the tough-on-crime wave hit. Washblog" Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  21. "http://www.asca.net/projects/9/pages/62". Retrieved September 20, 2106.
  22. 1 2 "http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/gregoire-says-prisons-chief-resigned-wasnt-forced-out/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  23. "http://www.heraldnet.com/news/gregoire-names-new-head-of-prison-system/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  24. "http://www.heraldnet.com/news/gregoire-names-new-head-of-prison-system/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  25. "http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ex-prisons-chief-eldon-vail-says-he-resigned-because-of-an-affair-with-subordinate/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  26. "http://src.wastateleg.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Majority-Report-FINAL.pdf". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  27. "http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/state-prisons-head-leaving-for-private-corrections-job/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  28. 1 2 "http://www.heraldnet.com/news/veteran-prisons-chief-named-state-corrections-secretary/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  29. "http://www.heraldnet.com/news/early-release-probe-turns-to-former-corrections-leader/". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  30. 1 2 "http://kuow.org/post/washington-state-scrambles-re-arrest-prematurely-freed-inmates". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  31. "Email from Dan Pacholke to Senator Mike Padden 2016". Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  32. 1 2 "Sullivan, Joseph. "Former Corrections boss says he didn’t know of early prisoner releases". Seattle Times. January 15, 2016" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  33. "Segregation Solutions" Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  34. ""More Than Emptying Beds: A Systems Approach to Segregation Reform".." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  35. 1 2 "http://www.doc.wa.gov/%5C/about/agency/docs/biography-acting-doc-secretary-dick-morgan.pdf". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  36. "2015 Washington State Transition Fair." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  37. "http://www.teamsters117.org/department_of_corrections" Teamsters Local 117. Retrieved on September 19, 2016.
  38. 1 2 3 4 "Dress Uniform and Honor Guard.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  39. The Officer Down Memorial Page
  40. "http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jayme-biendl-prison-guard-strangled-at-washington-state-prison-chapel/". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  41. "http://www.behindthebadgefoundation.org/support/upcoming-events/officer-jayme-biendl-memorial-run". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  42. 1 2 3 ""Corrections officers push lawmakers for better uniforms" Everett Herald. Feb. 13, 2012.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  43. 1 2 "HB 2346." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  44. "DOC 870.400." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  45. 1 2 "SB 5295. SB 5295." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  46. "SB 5177." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  47. "SB 6399." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  48. "SB 5505." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  49. "HB 2005." Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  50. "SB 6154.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  51. "HB 2817.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  52. 1 2 "PRESS RELEASE: Corrections Appoints Carlos Lugo as Department Ombuds.." Retrieved on September 24, 2016.
  53. 1 2 3 ""Monroe Prison Guard Charged with Extortion and Attempted Drug Trafficking"." Department of Justice. Retrieved on October 2, 2016.
  54. ""Police investigating death of inmate at Monroe prison"." Everett Herald. August 2, 2016. Retrieved on October 2, 2016.
  55. 1 2 3 4 "Sustainability in Prisons Project History.." Retrieved on September 27, 2016.
  56. "2011 DOC Employees." Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  57. "SB 5650." Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
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