Gov. Jay Inslee announced today the appointment of Caitlin Robertson, PhD, director of the Office of the Corrections Ombuds (OCO). Robertson will replace Sonja Hallum who has been the interim director during the transition in leadership at the OCO.
The OCO is an independent, impartial public office within the Governor's Office that serves the state of Washington by helping to resolve issues involving people incarcerated in the Department of Corrections facilities. The OCO is charged with investigating concerns related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of incarcerated persons in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The office works to address the issues quickly and efficiently to assist those who are incarcerated and their families. The office also publishes reports related to the investigations and other issues involving incarcerated individuals. Through their work they provide assistance to the individuals incarcerated in the DOC facilities, their families and friends, and promote a positive change in corrections through their work with the DOC.
Prior to this appointment, Robertson was the lead assistant ombuds for investigations originating at the state's four eastern Washington corrections facilities. Robertson worked on high-priority investigations related to severe bodily harm and staff conduct. Endeavoring to meet the needs of incarcerated individuals and their family members, Robertson worked on improving the office's case intake and triage procedures; advanced internal training; improved how cases are resolved; and streamlined the office's confidential hotline.
"Caitlin's management experience with the OCO makes her someone who can hit the ground running in this position," Inslee said. "The OCO plays an important role in supporting families and incarcerated individuals. I appreciate Caitlin’s dedication to ensuring this office has the people and systems in place to promote the welfare, health and safety within our corrections facilities. We are extremely grateful for Sonja's leadership over the last several months. She has been instrumental at improving the systems and outcomes for the team and those they serve."
"I am grateful that the OCO exists and it is an honor to work alongside colleagues who are dedicated to making positive changes in corrections. I wholeheartedly believe that we have a profound responsibility to help all Washingtonians flourish, and I look forward to continuing the good work of the OCO," said Robertson.
She holds a PhD in leadership studies from Gonzaga University and a master's degree in conflict and dispute resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law.
Robertson's appointment goes into effect June 1.