Stephen Sinclair
Washington State Department of Corrections

Stephen Sinclair was appointed Secretary of the Washington State Department of Corrections by Governor Jay Inslee on April 25, 2017.

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. 

Sinclair is Co-Director of the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), which is a unique partnership with the Evergreen State College. SPP brings science and nature to prisons, it educates and employs incarcerated individuals in a multitude of skills all contributing to science and our environment. 

As superintendent of the Washington State Penitentiary, Sinclair created and pioneered the Sustainable Practices Lab, which employs incarcerated individuals in jobs that reduce the cost of facility operations, provides meaningful vocational work and skills training while reducing idleness, and allows them the opportunity to give back to the community. The lab employs more than 120 people and is a national model of innovation that reduces recidivism. 

Some of his proudest accomplishments include implementation of an outcome based management system and refreshing the agency’s mission and values to integrate equitable treatment of all employees, embrace diversity and foster an environment of inclusion and respect. Shifting the agency values to a more human centered approach will enhance the agency’s ability to deliver reentry services to improve public safety by positively changing lives. 

Sinclair has successfully introduced and helped pass Agency Request Legislation to reform Washington Corrections, examples include;

Graduated Reentry – which allows qualifying individuals to serve up to a year in a community based Work Release program followed by up to 6 months on electronic home monitoring with intensive community supervision. This has reduced the prison population and created a new pathway for successful reentry. 

In 2020, he led the effort to further reform the system, by introducing legislation that reduced community supervision to better align with the research indicating extended periods of supervision does not reduce recidivism. 

In the coming year, Sinclair will lead an effort to introduce legislation to address the racial disparity that exist within the criminal justice system. 

Sinclair has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington. He is a member of the American Correctional Association, Correctional Leaders Association and a Commissioner of the Washington State Criminal Sentencing Taskforce, Sentencing Guidelines Commission and Criminal Justice Training Commission. Sinclair is a 2009 recipient of the Governor's Award for Leadership in Management‎.

Sinclair is dedicated to the agency mission to improve public safety by positively changing lives and to making advances to not only Washington States Corrections, but contributing to nationwide change.