In appointing a new secretary for his embattled Department of Corrections (DOC), Governor Jay Inslee selected an individual who has already demonstrated poor management skills in leading a state agency
Current DOC Secretary Steve Sinclair is finally departing the job, though Inslee refuses to say why (stating it is “irrelevant at this point” for him to inform the public why a member of his cabinet is departing), so controversary grows surrounding the costly management failures of our state’s prison system.
That makes Inslee’s new choice to lead the department, Cheryl Strange, an important appointment for those who want our state government to perform better. Yet good government advocates will likely be disappointed with Strange’s previous performance working for Democrat Administrations..
Unfortunately, Secretary Strange has multiple firsthand experiences in mismanaging state agencies, dating to when she was CEO of Western State Hospital (immediately before the federal government declassified the state’s mental health facility in 2018 due to administrative failures) and her current position as Secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
Controversary has surrounded Strange’s leadership at DSHS, as nurses filed labor grievances claiming that Strange’s administration was unconcerned about repeated physical attacks on staff and for multiple COVID-19 outbreaks due to administration not following safety guidelines.
And we should not forget that during Strange’s previous time at the Department of Corrections (from 2008 to 2011), when she served as deputy secretary, an on-going administrative error led to the early release of 3,200 prisoners (a management error that was known and was left unfixed for 13 years!).
We should note that at the time the governor was announcing his new DOC secretary, a major lawsuit was being filed over the management failure of Inslee’s outgoing chief of the department. A $10 million suit was filed against the DOC in one of the many cases when inmates died due to repeated failures of the DOC’s medical administration.
The family of Kenny Williams filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court, stating the Monroe Corrections Complex inmate had been preliminarily diagnosed with cancer, but corrections’ medical administration failed to provide the treatment needed to keep him alive (Williams was scheduled to be released this summer).
Williams is one of many inmates who have died due to alleged administrative failures under Inslee’s “leadership”. In fact, more than seven deaths due to medical administrative failure at state corrections facilities are currently being investigated.
This is more deaths due to Inslee’s DOC administrative failures then would have occurred if the governor had not placed a moratorium on the state’s voter-approved death penalty. Thus, under Governor Inslee, people sentenced to death by juries are allowed to live, while those sentenced for just a few years are allowed to die.
Given her history, appointing Cheryl Strange to become DOC secretary will likely not fix the costly management practices at the department
Strange’s appointment clearly demonstrates that the governor is unconcerned with improving state government’s efficiency (but why should he be since our local media never holds Inslee accountable for his failures). It also shows the utter lack of accountability which permeates state government after 8+ years of Jay Inslee. As we witnessed by Inslee refusing to hold Suzi Levine accountable for her colossal and historic mismanagement of the Employment Security Department (if a person cannot be fired for losing $1.1 billion, what can they be fired for?), the governor is truly unconcerned with respecting the state taxpayers by efficiently managing the state’s resources.