Poulos unanimously reappointed to head Statewide Reentry Council

  • September 30, 2020

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington Statewide Reentry Council unanimously reappointed Christopher Poulos to serve a second three-year term as executive director. The decision by council members came after a successful first term of notable activities and accomplishments.

“I am incredibly honored that the council had the faith in my work and our progress to reappoint me for a second three-year term,” said Poulos. “Successful reentry and community reintegration occur when internal healing and growth is met with external opportunity. We remain committed to doing everything within our power to help facilitate both.”

Since Poulos’ appointment to this position in October 2017, he has worked with council members, legislators and advocacy groups to help secure the passage of 19 council-priority bills into law.

Additionally, he built strong interagency relationships, serving multiple state and national criminal justice-related task forces and working groups. He did this while also engaging with incarcerated people, community members and stakeholder organizations across Washington to promote successful post-incarceration reintegration.

Over this upcoming three-year term, which begins on Oct. 1, Poulos and the council have focused on six major categories of work: racial equity, housing, centering community, education, employment and improving communication. Currently, the council is working with multiple coalitions on legislation aimed at ending housing discrimination against individuals with criminal records and expanding voting rights to people living in our communities while remaining on community supervision.

As a response to COVID-19, the council provided direct funding to community organizations assisting with reentry efforts and held listening sessions to better connect resource providers throughout the state. The council has urged the Washington Legislature to continue expanding funding for community organizations to offer more support to these vital programs.

Additional council priorities include supporting efforts to reform community corrections, increasing “good time,” and expanding the Department of Corrections housing voucher program.

Poulos, who was formerly incarcerated, developed his expertise on addiction and criminal justice policy through life experience long before entering government work. As a teen, he experienced homelessness and substance use disorder, eventually resulting in a drug-related conviction and a three-year federal prison sentence. Following his release, Poulos graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law.

During law school, he served as president of the American Constitution Society and represented youth facing criminal charges. He also served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Obama Administration and worked with The Sentencing Project. Poulos also advised Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and served on several local, state and federal task forces related to criminal justice policy.

Before his executive director role for the Statewide Reentry Council, he served as executive director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice. Poulos has also recently served as an adjunct professor of Political Science at Seattle Central Community College and an adjunct law professor at Seattle University. Currently, his work promotes equal access to the law and seeks to end mass incarceration and the associated consequences now facing the tens of millions of people in the U.S. with criminal convictions.

The work of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council has garnered significant local and national attention since it was established in 2016, including an article about voting rights in the Harvard Law and Policy Review and stories in the Seattle Times, New York Times, NBC News and elsewhere. Poulos himself has openly shared his personal story with the Washington Post, NBC, Inside Olympia and others, and in a 2015 TED Talk.

To learn more about the goals and policy work of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, visit their website.

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Penny Thomas

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