As a Washington State agency, the Washington Department of Corrections is led by a secretary appointed by the Washington State Governor. The WA DOC Secretary position is a Governor’s Cabinet level position. The activities of the WA DOC are governed by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), as well as by case law precedent and federal law. WA DOC procedures are directed by the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and internal WA DOC agency policy. At the local prison facility level, Operational Memoranda may be used to create local policies, which are subordinate to statewide agency policies.
RCW 72.01.090 authorizes WA DOC “to make its own rules for the proper execution of its powers.” WA DOC WACs are developed through WA DOC’s formal rule making process. Internal WA DOC agency policies are typically on a two-year revision cycle. Each policy has a designated WA DOC staff person who serves as the policyholder or policy manager. WA DOC policyholders develop draft policy revisions in collaboration with internal (and sometimes external) stakeholders. Drafts of policies currently under revision are now available for public input on WA DOC’s website. Policy drafts are then submitted to WA DOC’s policy review department before going to the WA DOC Secretary for a final signature. Some special WA DOC policies cannot be revised until designated legislative committees have been given an opportunity to review proposed changes.
Additional resources on WA DOC Rule Making and Policies:
- Rule Making in the Washington Department of Corrections (note that WA DOC is exempt from some aspects of the Administrative Procedures Act that bind other Washington State agencies)
- RCW 34.05.314 Rules development agenda for Washington state agencies
- Washington State Register log of WA DOC and Correctional Industries filings to create, amend, or rescind WACs (a dry read, but worth checking in with regularly, since quiet announcements soliciting comment on tentative rules are sometimes presented in these, such as in this May 3, 2019 posting)
- WA DOC Internal Policy Review Process and Timelines
- DOC 100.100 Policy Development and Implementation
- WA DOC WAC Handbooks