Promotion brings new prison chief to Monroe

MONROE — A change of leadership is in the works at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

Scott Frakes, who has been superintendent at Monroe since 2008, is leaving to take a promotion as deputy director of prisons at the state Department of Corrections headquarters in Tumwater. He will oversee half of the state’s 12 prisons.

Robert Herzog, who has been an associate superintendent at Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane since 2004, will succeed Frakes as superintendent at Monroe.

The appointments take effect April 1.

“Both Scott and Rob are exceptional leaders with 30 years of experience in the prisons division,” prisons director Dan Pacholke said. “They bring the right set of skills to these important positions.”

Frakes will lead the prisons division’s Command A, which includes Cedar Creek Corrections Center south of Olympia, Clallam Bay Corrections Center, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center near the Tri-Cities, Olympic Corrections Center near Forks, Stafford Creek Corrections Center near Aberdeen and the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. He also will oversee the Intensive Management Units, the highest-security level units in the state prison system. One of those special prisons is at Monroe.

Frakes joined the agency in 1982 as a correctional officer at the Washington State Penitentiary and has climbed the ranks while working at six prisons.

Herzog will manage Monroe Correctional Complex, one of the state’s largest prisons with more than 2,500 offenders and more than 1,100 staff. The 365-acre site is divided into units, with inmates sorted by length of sentence, the risk they are believed to pose to security, and their behavior on the street and behind walls.

Herzog, who spent 20 years as a uniformed officer before moving into administration, said the Monroe complex has been well run under Frakes.

“I don’t know if I would come in and tinker with anything off the bat,” he said.

Herzog, 54, said the success of the prison will depend in large part on the quality of the interaction between staff and inmates.

The Monroe prison complex plays a significant role in the local economy with an annual budget of $110 million.

Several changes, including how inmates are assigned to the reformatory, have been put in place since correctional officer Jayme Biendl was killed in the prison chapel in January 2011. Since then, the overall reformatory population has dropped from around 750 to 630. The number of inmates with life sentences also has dipped, from 150 to 100. After each of their files was reviewed, many lifers were reassigned to other prisons.

The inmate charged with Biendl’s killing was a repeat rapist serving life.

Frakes said the Biendl tragedy has led to improved training for many officers, better orders for officers and improved processes for moving prisoners.

Three corrections officers were fired for misconduct the night Biendl was killed and for inconsistent or false statements made to investigators afterward.

In all, Frakes disciplined seven officers who were on duty Jan. 29 when Biendl was attacked at her post at the Washington State Reformatory chapel.

After Biendl’s death, the Department of Corrections stopped double bunking inmates in the same cell at the reformatory. That will change soon. State prison officials said they will add roughly another 140 inmates to the medium-security unit over several months.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446;

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