DOC chief who dramatically resigned will temporarily stay on

By: Linzi Sheldon

Updated:

After a sudden, dramatic resignation on Saturday in which he accused Senate Republicans of having a “need for blood,” Department of Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke may not be leaving so quickly.

Despite his seeming resolve in a letter to Republican Sen. Mike Padden in which he said he hoped his stepping down “fulfills your political needs so you can let this agency, our agency heal,” Pacholke then told Gov. Jay Inslee Monday he was willing to stay on while Inslee tried to figure out Pacholke’s successor.

“It was a surprise to me,” Inslee said of his resignation. “I was not involved in that decision, did not ask him to resign. We're going to keep working on these things.”

Pacholke met with officials from the governor’s office on Monday to discuss their options in replacing him, including whether to actively recruit for a new DOC secretary, appoint an acting chief, or have the deputy secretary take the reins of the embattled agency.

Officials said the governor’s independent investigators should have their report on how the DOC mistakenly released up to 3,200 prisoners early ready by the end of the month.

Even though a victim’s family notified the DOC of the error in 2012, the department did not fix the computer programming error that led to the releases until January 2016.

Senate Republicans also gave an update on their separate investigation on Monday.

They said the first set of findings will be presented to the Senate’s Law & Justice committee by the Senate’s hired investigator, Mark Bartlett, on Wednesday.

“We'll find out a little bit more as to when DOC might have known some things,” Padden said.

Padden said Bartlett will begin interviewing DOC employees as soon as Thursday, likely including the head of the DOC in 2012, Bernie Warner, who has claimed he was unaware.

“There are some that are top level officials,” Padden said. “Some are middle management that had information. I’m sure he'll want to talk to some people who are in the IT department."

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