Gov. Jay Inslee today appointed Joanna Carns director of the Washington State Office of the Corrections Ombuds, a new independent agency tasked with providing information and investigating complaints about the welfare, health, safety and rights of incarcerated people in Washington state.
Carns has extensive experience in the correctional system, having served eight years on the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee in Ohio. She began her time there as an inspector before becoming the committee’s executive director. As executive director, she responded to complaints from inside prisons and worked with legislators on correctional policies to improve the well-being of incarcerated people.
Following her time with the CIIC, Carns worked as vice president of government affairs and public advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.
"The Office of the Corrections Ombuds will provide vital independent and impartial oversight of our correctional system," Inslee said. "Joanna’s experience responding to the concerns of incarcerated people, and her strong background in public policy, will contribute greatly to our ongoing work to improve Washington’s criminal justice system."
"I applaud Governor Inslee, the Legislature, and the many advocates who came together to pass the critical legislation that created this office. I look forward to collaborating with DOC to fulfill their commitment to competency, accountability and ethics in all their work," Carns said. "With the vast majority of inmates eventually returning to society, it is incumbent upon all of us to work toward a system that promotes rehabilitation to better enable successful reentry."
Carns is a graduate of The Ohio State University and the Georgetown University Law Center.
Inslee signed HB 1889 in March, which created the Office of the Corrections Ombuds. Carns will be its first director. Her appointment is effective October 2018.