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Head of Washington State Department of Corrections to retire in May

Stephen Sinclair, Secretary of Washington State Department of Corrections. (Photo courtesy of DOC)

The secretary of the Washington State Department of Corrections, Stephen Sinclair, has announced that he will retire this spring.

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Sinclair was appointed to lead the department by Governor Jay Inslee in 2017 and has been with the department for more than three decades, after serving in the U.S. Army. He started as a correctional officer, and moved up to investigator, sergeant, associate superintendent, superintendent, and then assistant secretary before serving as secretary.

“I thank Steve for his years of service with the agency, where he began as a correctional officer and subsequently worked his way up through several positions of leadership,” Gov. Inslee said. “Over the years he has led on a variety of issues from establishing programs that help keep people from re-offending, reducing violence in facilities, increasing staff retention, establishing systems for stronger fiscal management and advocating for sustainable practices. I wish him the best in retirement and thank him for his many years of service to our state.”

Sinclair has overseen the department throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which there have been several major outbreaks at DOC facilities across the state. There have been 10 COVID-19 deaths and nearly 6,000 confirmed cases at the department’s facilities among corrections staff and inmates.

According to his posted biography, Sinclair planned to help lead an effort to introduce legislation to address the racial disparity that exists within the criminal justice system this year.

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Sinclair’s last day will be May 1, 2021. The Governor’s Office has begun looking for his replacement.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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