Win tickets to Evergreen State Fair concert
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions
Herald staff |
Published: Monday, March 21, 2011, 10:11 a.m.

Experts: give alarms, pepper spray to Washington corrections officers

  • Gov. Chris Gregoire speaks at a press conference on Monday at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Gov. Chris Gregoire speaks at a press conference on Monday at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

  • Gov. Chris Gregoire speaks at a press conference at the Monroe Correctional Facility on Monday.

    Gov. Chris Gregoire speaks at a press conference at the Monroe Correctional Facility on Monday.

MONROE -- Corrections officers in Washington prisons should be issued special body alarms that will alert others when they are in distress, and some should start carrying pepper spray when working around inmates, a team of federal experts is recommending.

Those suggestions were detailed Monday morning in a report released by the National Institute of Corrections.

"It's time to get to work," Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire requested the federal investigation after the Jan. 29 death of Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl.

The federal corrections experts said that a higher ratio of staff-to-inmates is needed in an old prison like the Washington State Reformatory because there are too many places where it is hard to keep close watch and maintain officer safety. At the same time, the team found the ratio of staff to inmates "a very adequate, if not very good, custody staffing," the report said.

The team also recommended the department institute mandatory annual training that will help officers stay focused on the tactics and mindset that they need to increase safety. Changes also were suggested in how the prison system deploys and accounts for prison staff and volunteers.

The investigation's results were made public at a mid morning press conference Monday at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

Gregoire asked the National Institute of Corrections to recommend changes in how the prison operates, based on a review of the circumstances surrounding Biendl's death. The federal corrections experts all are employed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Biendl was slain while she worked alone at her post in the chapel at the reformatory. Byron Scherf, a rapist serving a life term, has been charged with aggravated murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The federal experts encouraged prison officials to review the records of all offenders serving life in prison without possibility of release. Scherf's records show that prison officials a decade ago determined that he would pose a particular risk to women working at the prison, and should always be considered dangerous.

The federal team was expected to examine policies and procedures at the prison, staffing levels and the classification system used to determine the level of custody for inmates.

Subscribe to Daily headlines
See sample | Privacy policy

Most recent Sirens posts

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

» More local news
HeraldNet Classifieds