Rep. Michelle Caldier statement on Department of Corrections lack of transparency, canceling onsite tour and discussion of transgender concerns at corrections center

Rep. Michelle Caldier has received numerous complaints from staff and friends and family members of incarcerated biological women at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) concerned about the integration of transgender individuals at the facility. Caldier requested a tour and a meeting at the prison located in her district to discuss the complaints brought to her attention. The Department of Corrections (DOC) initially granted a tour but canceled it when they learned there would be questions on transgender policy issues.

Caldier, R-Gig Harbor, issued this statement:

“A tour and meeting at the facility would allow the department to address the questions and concerns brought to me. My request was done in good faith. I invited both Republican and Democrat colleagues, and there was a high level of interest. I was disappointed to receive an email from the department that stated:

Since this is the sole purpose of the tour as you state below, I am notifying the facility and Asst. Sec. Jeannie Darnielle that this tour is canceled.

“I am very concerned about what I have been hearing. Staff is required to perform invasive body checks on biological men, regardless of whether it was in their contract or violates their religious beliefs. Some staff have had traumatic events in dealing with men and feel they are being harassed. Families and friends of incarcerated women have shared with me that women are forced to share rooms with violent biological men and do not feel safe. When the incarcerated individuals complain, the women are punished. Staff, as well as the family and friends of those incarcerated, have reached out to me anonymously for fear of retaliation.  

“My goal is to find compassionate solutions to ensure staff and those incarcerated are safe. That cannot be done if it appears the DOC is afraid of allowing elected officials to get a firsthand account of how their facility or agency is being run. The department needs to be transparent.

“We as a state need to figure out how to treat transgender individuals fairly and with respect, but not at the expense of staff and incarcerated women at state facilities.”


Washington State House Republican Communications