Huy Lifts Hands to DOC Secretary Sinclair For His Service

Jan 27th, 2021

Yesterday Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Steve Sinclair announced his retirement. As we wrote to Governor Jay Inslee in 2019 regarding our collaboration with Secretary Sinclair:

“We have worked with senior staff both at DOC headquarters and the
agency’s various prisons throughout the state, under the leadership of the last four Secretaries, including Director Sinclair. While we have had our moments of disagreement with the DOC over the years, by and large our efforts are collaborative. While Secretary Sinclair has overseen the DOC, the agency and we have been especially collaborative.

We are particularly grateful for Secretary Sinclair’s support of HB 1485, which you signed into law this past April. That law changed the Christian term “chaplain” in state corrections statute, to “religious coordinator,” which, in practice, will put non-Western religious (and rehabilitative) practices—like Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Indigenous spirituality—on an equal footing with Christianity throughout the DOC. This law will change the culture of the DOC.

We are also grateful for innovative practices that Secretary Sinclair encourages his prison Superintendents to deploy in aid of Indigenous prisoners’ rehabilitation. At the Washington State Penitentiary and in conjunction with its Sustainable Practices Lab, for example, our Indigenous relatives with behavioral privileges were recently allowed to grow plants—Indigenous “medicines”—like sage and sweetgrass, for use by them and their fellow Indigenous prisoners in prayer.

We are further grateful that on Secretary Sinclair’s watch, we have had successive pow wow seasons without any significant security complications or hindrances for our Indigenous relatives’ loved ones and guests. Secretary Sinclair has set a tone of respect, communication, and assistance, without jeopardizing prison security. We commend his efforts.”

We lift our hands to Secretary Sinclair. Huy.