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Home » OCO Answers to Pre-Submitted Questions/Comments 9/30/2022

* TVW removed the video of the OCO Quarterly Public Meeting from the streaming archive because a portion of the recording includes profanity. Two external stakeholders unmuted themselves by accident, and their conversation had multiple profane words. Regrettably, this means that the meeting, which included, for the first time, the voices of incarcerated people asking unmediated questions directly to the staff of the OCO, is no longer available for the public to view. Moving forward, the OCO staff will more actively manage attendees, and our meeting management will include a request that participants should have their audio muted unless unmuted for their public comment period.  

Link to all pre-submitted questions and comments HERE 


Question #1

  • The OCO Monthly Outcome reports are usually available on our jp5. The last one I have on my player is March of 2022. Are only the guys with jp5's able to view these reports? Why isn't every month’s report posted to our players? For those without players how are they able to view them? I've never seen a monthly report in our unit posted anywhere. I scan through the separate cases from time to time but there isn't a lot of them available on our players idk if this is because there aren't that many concluded reports or if we just aren't getting them all. 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO has sent all reports available on the reports section of our website directly to Securus. Securus reports that the next sync is scheduled on or after 10/12/2022. WCCW and MCCCW are running the new Securus platform Unity, and as of 10/8/2022, all reports on the OCO website should be available on their tablets.  
    • The OCO sends all reports to the DOC with the request to distribute them to all Law Libraries.  

Question #2 

  • When will The OCO be returning to public in-person meetings for stakeholders? I see you holding one inside prisons! So hopeful the public will get same opportunity Thanks
  • OCO Answer 
    • Historically, the OCO held public meetings in-person and outside of prisons and transitioned to virtual meetings during the pandemic. The OCO public quarterly meetings for 2023 will all be held inside a Washington DOC facility. We are excited to bring our public meetings directly to the stakeholders living inside WA DOC facilities. We are proud to include the voices of incarcerated people on our public platform. 
    •  The dates for the meeting are posted on our website and below: 
      • 1/6/2023
      • 4/7/2023
      • 7/7/2023
      • 10/6/2023

Question #3

  • Under the leadership of Secretary Sinclair, DOC reformulated its mission statement from that of "providing for public safety" to a more focused and collaborative mission statement of "To improve public safety by positively changing lives." This is a tectonic shift from the superseded less focused and more simplistic mission statement of providing for public safety by keeping criminals off the streets. We are now, or at least should be, more focused on a changing of lives effort. This infers a more collaborative supportive effort in the transformation of lives behind the wire, teamwork involving inmates, families and DOC. What steps has the OCO taken to facilitate, emphasize and monitor the physical, mental, emotional, and operational practices and procedures within DOC, families and inmates to reorientate the entire community to this more Norwegian like model of criminal justice reform? 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO receives hundreds of concerns from incarcerated individuals statewide through the mail and the hotline every month. Our Community Relations Specialist (CRS) meets with incarcerated people in-person to discuss their concerns weekly. The CRS is tasked with visiting at minimum one facility per week. 
    • Monthly, the OCO Management team holds individual meetings to discuss area-specific concerns with the leadership of the following DOC Headquarters Divisions and Offices: the Office of the Deputy Secretary; the Men's Prisons Division; the Women's Prisons Division; the Health Services Division; the Reentry Division; and the Community Corrections Division. 
    • The OCO Director and the DOC Secretary meet bi-weekly to find a resolution to significant concerns and systemic issues and to discuss meaningful recommendations that can drive future corrective action plans.

Question #4 

  • It took a bit more than a decade of work on the part of many non governmental agencies and family members to create the office of the correctional ombuds independent from the Department of Corrections. For a time the newly created OCO was that, listening to all voices equally committed to uncovering the truth and sharing that truth with all. What we have today is just another layer of state bureaucracy managing truth so as to consolidate and retain power. There is a solution of course, the establishment of The Office of Inspector General answerable only to truth and the citizenry at large. 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO published multiple reports in the last year, including 2,071 individual investigations in our Monthly Outcome Reports (MORs). The OCO MORs include all complaints received and describe the OCO actions taken to obtain resolution for the incarcerated individuals.

Question #5 

  • How can the public be confident that the OCO's way of operating is not meant as reputation management for DOC or the Governor's office? When the OCO and DOC are both under the Governor's chain of command, how can the public feel assured of the independence of the OCO's work? 
  • OCO Answer
    • Under new leadership, the OCO staff now record all complaints received by the office, which has significantly increased the public's ability to review the work of the OCO. From July-September 2022, the OCO received and recorded 952 new complaints. 
    • Under new leadership, the OCO staff diligently worked to publish all past-due Monthly Outcome Reports (MORs). From June 1 - October 1, 2022, the OCO published nine MORs totaling 2,071 individual investigations. All MORs include a summary of the received complaint, an overview of the OCO action taken to obtain a resolution, and the closure reason of the case.

Question #6

  • Why has the OCO whittled the time allowed at these meetings for stakeholder questions down to such a small window? 
  • OCO Answer
    • Moving forward, OCO Public Quarterly Meetings will include time for incarcerated stakeholders to ask questions of the OCO staff directly. The question-and-answer time has not decreased; instead, the public time now includes people who are incarcerated. 

Question #7

  • Is the OCO aware that stakeholders have a lot of distrust and worry about the way the OCO has operated since Joanna Carns ceased to be the director? If so, what is the OCO doing to address that damaged trust? 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO staff are constantly working to improve our processes and to achieve our paramount goal: increasing positive outcomes for the incarcerated people we serve. 
    • The new OCO Director’s first priority is to embed a culture of accountability at the OCO. For us, accountability means that we are responsible for our choices and the consequences of our choices. This goal applies internally and to our work with the DOC.
    • The staff of the OCO is committed to respecting the dignity of all the people living inside our state’s prisons. We follow the practical wisdom of—nothing about us, without us. Lived experience matters and is valued at the OCO: 33% of our staff know first-hand life behind bars in our state because they served time in WA DOC; over 70% of our team have either done a prison sentence or have family who are or who have served time. Embedded in all OCO decision-making and actions is the question—how can this positively impact the incarcerated people we serve?
    • The small and dedicated staff of the OCO provides a unique service, and we are adamant that we are responsible for delivering clear and helpful results. In 2022 we have up-leveled all aspects of the agency, resulting in increased access and improved outcomes for the incarcerated people we serve. 
    • The OCO continues to do internal work to ensure our data is accurate and reflects the work of this office. We continue to share our monthly reports that show every case that comes through our office. We continue to work on projects driven by the data we receive in our complaints from the incarcerated population.

Question #8 

  • How is OCO tracking noncompliant staff, against whom there are repeated grievances, even if there is not enough evidence to substantiate and get DOC to act? 
  • OCO Answer
    • When a specific staff is named multiple times, we discuss this with DOC Leadership. While the OCO does not dictate staff discipline, the information we provide has impacted DOC’s action. Many staff whom the OCO brought concerns about to DOC Leadership no longer work for the DOC. 

Question #9 

  • Are individuals allowed to be refused SOTAP, since it will affect their eligibility for release by the Board? 
  • OCO Answer
    • Yes, incarcerated individuals can refuse SOTAP; however, their refusal often negatively impacts their eligibility for release by the board. 

Question #10 

  • Why is IMU (or similar) used for medical isolation and segregation? The conditions feel like punishment and make people reluctant to report symptoms for fear of being sent there. this results in increased spread 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO agrees that using IMU and other restrictive housing areas for medical isolation is problematic. We have communicated our concerns with the DOC, and in some situations, the OCO’s intervention has caused people to be moved. 

Question #11

  • What happened to Q and what happened to her equity report? I find it concerning that what our loved ones have reported to have been the most trusted staff member by the population at Stafford and others is gone. 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO does not comment on former employees of the OCO.  
    • The OCO actively participates in multiple Washington State Office of Equity’s Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) Teams.  
    • The OCO hopes to partner with empathy-centered community members to embed the PEAR Framework in all agency decision-making and actions. All are welcome; we hope you will join the OCO's PEAR team. Please email the OCO PEAR Team if you want to learn more. 
    • Under previous OCO leadership, the OCO provided a summary of information gathered from conversations with the incarcerated population about equity to DOC Leadership. We anticipate that the DOC will include that information in their own PEAR work. The current OCO Director is a member of both OCO and DOC’s PEAR Teams. 

Question #12

  • Why was the time of this meeting changed? It was beyond inappropriate to not get feedback about moving this meeting to a time when most of us stakeholders and family members work. 
  • OCO Answer
    • We chose the meeting time that best accommodated the needs of the OCO stakeholders (the incarcerated individuals) living at WCCW. 

Question #13

  • I can see you have limited the items your office reviews on the website. Why ? 
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO has not limited the type of complaints we review. 

​​​​​​​Question #14

  • WCC Evergreen has many Covid outbreak cases, and many are now being moved to R-5, which is restrictive housing with no outlets, TVs, kiosks or any other amenities. One box of property is allowed. Why aren't they using R-6, which is set up as a living unit? They will treat the individuals as though they are restricted in all ways. Can OCO intervene to have the isolated individuals treated humanely? Last time, they did not deliver any mail, including mail from the courts. All protocols for isolation should be observed per WA State DOC COVID-19 Screening, Testing, and Infection Control Guideline Changes in Version 33.1 9/13/2022. "If patients are in medical isolation or quarantine, allowances will be made to accommodate patients: a) Television, playing cards and/or other recreational activities will be provided. b) There will be no cost for COVID-19 related medical evaluations or assessments of the patient for the duration of their stay. c) All patients/residents placed in medical isolation/quarantine will be issued hygiene kits and new clothing as needed. d) Access to personal property, regardless of the type of unit being used." Yet, WCC continues to place isolated individuals into restrictive housing.
  • OCO Answer
    • ​​​​​​​On 10/05/2022, Zachary Kinneman, OCO's Community Relations Specialist, visited the facility in response to numerous concerns raised by incarcerated individuals about COVID restrictions and practices via the OCO Hotline, our online complaint form, through the mail, and in message from external stakeholders similar to the one above . He met with incarcerated individuals at WCC in their living units and provided information and assistance where appropriate. OCO staff will continue to visit Washington Corrections Center over the next months and will report concerns directly to DOC Leadership at the facility and HQ and will work to provide assistance and ask for meaningful resolutions.    
​​​​​​​Question #15
  • When are you returning to in person stakeholder meetings?
  • OCO Answer
    • ​​​​​​​Historically, the OCO held public meetings in-person and outside of prisons and transitioned to virtual meetings during the pandemic. The OCO public quarterly meetings for 2023 will all be held inside a Washington DOC facility. We are excited to bring our public meetings directly to the stakeholders living inside WA DOC facilities. We are proud to include the voices of incarcerated people on our public platform. 
    •  The dates for the meeting are posted on our website and below: 
      • 1/6/2023
      • 4/7/2023
      • 7/7/2023
      • 10/6/2023
Question #16
  • When are you going to start releasing investigative reports again?
  • OCO Answer
    • The OCO published:  
      • Since 6/01/2022: Nine Monthly Outcomes Reports representing 2,071 Individual Investigations
      • 8/11/2022: Mail: Negotiated Outomces
      • 8/08/2022: Retaliation: Negotiated Outcomes 
      • 7/28/2022: 56 Dismissed Infractions Impacting 13 People - Stafford Creek Corrections Center
​​​​​​​Question #17 
  • Is OCO is still working on systemic reports or investigations about the disciplinary process, HSRs, Use of Force, and COVID deaths, and if so, when do you expect to release information about this work to the public?
    • OCO Answer: 
      • The OCO released a September 2021 draft of the COVID Deaths to the media. It is available HERE.  
      • The current OCO Director asked DOC to review the deaths from before the DOC was required to convene the unexpected fatality review (UFR) committee and to participate in a facilitated conversation with meaningful recommendations that can drive future corrective action plans. The OCO will publish outcomes from this conversation. 
      • Disciplinary Policy (Infractions) = In Process 
      • Health Status Report (HSRs) = In Process 
      • Use of Force (Including Emergency Restraints) = Ongoing Project 

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