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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Strange Appoints Christopher Poulos to Bring Perspective of Incarcerated Persons to DOC Practices

Released October 15, 2021

Contact Jacque Coe, (360) 890-0381

Communications Office

image of christopher poulos in a suit

Director of Person-Centered Services Christopher Poulos

TUMWATER – Secretary Cheryl Strange has established a new position to mark the beginning of the department’s commitment to bringing the voice of incarcerated individuals into the department’s practices. “It’s important for our organization to bring the perspective of individuals in our care and custody to everything we do. This is a common practice in many other service delivery systems, and I am excited to bring this to our agency,” said Strange. “Central to implementing a human centered design is to continue to build a climate of mutual respect between staff and the incarcerated individuals under our care and custody, so this perspective will be key.”

To achieve this goal, Strange has appointed attorney Christopher Poulos to the new role of Director of Person-Centered Services. Poulos is currently the Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seattle University. Previously, he served as executive director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice. His new role is effective November 16.

Poulos will focus on reviewing all policies and practices through the view of a person with lived experience. Through this lens, Chris will help inform the development of measures that help reduce risk, inform treatment planning, decision making and ultimately improve reentry success. Part of his role will seek ways to bring the perspective of the incarcerated person to leadership for policy, planning, and implementation to support the design of a human-centered environment of respect between staff and incarcerated persons in our custody that lead to safe outcomes.

Poulos, who was formerly incarcerated, developed his expertise on addiction and criminal justice policy through life experience long before entering government work. As a teen, he experienced homelessness and substance use disorder, eventually resulting in a drug-related conviction and a three-year federal prison sentence. Following his release, Poulos graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law.

During law school, Poulos served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. Poulos also served as advisor to United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and the United State Justice Department consulted with him as one of the nation’s most successful people following incarceration. He has served on several local, state, and federal task forces related to criminal justice policy and reform. Poulos has been very effective in sharing his life experience and legal knowledge to build relationships and advocacy for reform and transformation.

“What happens in our correctional system is vital to an individual’s success. I am honored and humbled to be joining DOC to continue moving the agency forward towards human-centered practices that increase the safety and health of both staff and incarcerated people,” said Poulos “I’m excited to bring my professional experience as a current government executive and attorney, and my personal lens of being formerly incarcerated, to this vital role.”