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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Stephen Sinclair Announces Retirement

Released January 26, 2021

Contact Susan Biller

Communications Office

stephen sinclair's portrait

Stephen Sinclair, Secretary of Corrections

TUMWATER – Stephen Sinclair, Washington State Department of Corrections Secretary, has announced his retirement effective May 1, following more than three decades of service to the state of Washington.

“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,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “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 was appointed Corrections Secretary by Gov. Jay Inslee in April 2017. Under his leadership, the agency has achieved many significant accomplishments.

Sinclair has been instrumental in Corrections’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilizing many resources and staff to ensure the health and safety of staff and incarcerated people alike. Upon becoming Secretary in 2017, he reorganized the agency to better align with the goal of reducing recidivism by increasing focus on reentry. Since that time, he has refreshed the agency values to a more human-centered approach to improve public safety by positively changing lives. He has partnered with Amend at University of California-San Francisco and the Vera Institute of Justice system to bring best correctional practices to Washington Corrections.

“Serving as Secretary has been humbling, and an incredible honor to lead this department for the past four years,” said Sinclair. “The last couple of years our focus has been on reform, and I’m so thankful to have such an amazing group of leaders, who I am confident will continue this important work in our agency. I am so proud of this department and the staff who have made our department the leader in corrections it is.”

After serving in the U.S. Army, Sinclair began his 30-plus year career at the Washington State Department of Corrections as a correctional officer and gained progressively greater responsibilities as an investigator, sergeant, associate superintendent, superintendent, and assistant secretary. He was the 2020 recipient of the Correctional Leaders Association’s Clements Award, recognizing innovation and achievement in correctional practices.

The Governor’s Office will begin the process to determine next steps to appoint a new Secretary.