Larry Kincheloe was superintendent from 1982 until 1988

Larry Kincheloe

Larry Kincheloe was a military man. After nearly 15 years in the army, and three tours of infantry duty in Vietnam, Kincheloe moved to Washington State as an adviser to the Army National Guard. In his spare time he enrolled in a master degree program at Pacific Lutheran University where his studies kindled an interest in corrections. By coincidence, Kincheloe lived across the street from the house Douglas Vinzant used when he was in Olympia in his roll as Director of the Division of Adult Corrections. After discussing ideas with Vinzant about his master’s thesis, Vinzant offered Kincheloe a job at the penitentiary as an associate superintendent.

A few months later, when Vinzant was fired and Genakos resigned, Kincheloe thought his days were numbered. While he had almost no experience in corrections, Jim Spalding kept Kincheloe as his associate superintendent for custody. Spalding saw that Kincheloe got along well with staff, an important asset, especially given staff attitudes and morale at the time. He also believed that Kincheloe possessed the qualities to be an effective member of his management team.

By 1982, Kincheloe was no longer a novice at prison management, and Kip Kautzky, also a military man, appointed him to replace Kastama. He remained penitentiary superintendent until January 1988, when he moved into central office. During Kincheloe’s tenure as superintendent, the long-range plan for upgrading the penitentiary that was developed during the early days of Spalding’s superintendency, was finally completed. Numerous operational changes, including much improved staff training and supervision, occurred during Kincheloe’s watch. By the time he left, a new kind of order was in place at the Washington State Penitentiary.



  1. You leave the impression the Whitman College girls went to the WSP regularly to lay around in the grass and get pregnant. To support this you show an outdoor scene which looks like one of the banquets which for families and outside guests. I’m not sure that that photo is one of the Social Therapy picnics since I recognize absolutely no one, convict or free and I was connected to Social Therapy for most of the 70s. On the webpage you also include a photograph of a Social Therapy group session that does include Whitman students but hardly supports your statement that student hung around on the grass and got pregnant. The only support you cite seems to be a convict conversation, said convict’s name I don’t recognize either – certainly never a member of the Social Therapy program. Don’t you think that you might have contacted a few people that were actually involved? Especially since I found much in your book to agree with.

    • I am glad you agree with much of my book. However, if you read the book closely, you should realize that no mention of the social therapy program can be found in the book. The only place the program is mentioned is on this website and in the Facebook group, the Washington State Penitentiary Archive. The primary purpose of the website and the Facebook group is to promote the book and share additional information that I gathered over the years in my research. The comment that “some of the girls got pregnant” is found in the “book trailer” video which, like movie trailers, is intended to be a tease to get people interested in the book. The source of this information was not an inmate, but a staff person who told me (in writing) “I know a gal who conceived a baby from one of these visits.” I know that you were associated with the program since your name is mentioned in Lee Bowker’s May 1974 program evaluation report, a report in which he alludes to “volunteer problems.” In the report, Bowker wrote: “The first [problem] is that volunteers often join programs for reasons of their own, reasons which are antithetical to the goals of the program and the institution. The second volunteer problem is that their bleeding heart liberalism often allows them to be seduced into becoming so sympathetic to residents that they can no longer be successful as change agents.” I’m confident that various types of seduction took place.

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