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PRESS RELEASE: DOC Assistant Secretary & Former State Senator Jeannie Darneille Retires After Distinguished Career

Released January 17, 2024

Contact Chris Wright Communications Office
Image of Jeannie Darneille

Jeannie Darneille

Image of Melissa Andrewjeski

Melissa Andrewjeski

TUMWATER - Department of Corrections (DOC) Assistant Secretary and former State Senator Jeannie Darneille has announced her retirement from state service. Darneille served as Assistant Secretary of the Women’s Prison Division since it was created by Secretary Cheryl Strange in 2021. She utilized her deep understanding of issues affecting incarcerated individuals and DOC staff from her elected service as a Legislator to launch one of the first divisions of its kind in the country.

“I have been incredibly impacted by this rare opportunity and honor to put my boots back on the ground to impact social change,” said Darneille. “My social service work began over 40 years ago in a women’s organization, so it is particularly meaningful to have worked to improve the lives of women who live and work in the prison setting.”

“In her time with us, Jeannie made significant strides towards aligning DOC’s operations and practices to become more informed by the differences between genders,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “She dedicated her career to improving the lives of all Washingtonians, including incarcerated individuals. Jeannie will be dearly missed.”

Strange has appointed current Coyote Ridge Corrections Center Superintendent Melissa Andrewjeski to the role of Women’s Prison Division Assistant Secretary. Andrewjeski has run the state’s largest prison since 2021.

Andrewjeski brings over 32 years of experience in corrections to this role. She began her career as a correctional officer and has worked at various facilities as a Classification Counselor, Regional Manager, Correctional Program Manager and Associate Superintendent. She also serves as an adjunct professor for Heritage University. Andrewjeski is also a former Corrections Education Dean for the Washington Corrections Center for Women and is a licensed social worker.

“I am excited to have Melissa in this role,” said Strange. “She brings a unique combination of corrections experience that includes programs, gender responsivity and humane treatment of the incarcerated – as well as her experience and passion for training the next generation of corrections professionals. I am confident she will continue to build on the foundation that Jeannie built.”

The Women’s Prison Division oversees the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor and the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Mason County.