Letters to the Editor

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PRISON: Guard’s death was preventable

Letter by David A. Holbrook, Vancouver on Feb. 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm with 18 Comments »
February 2, 2011 1:47 pm

The death of Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Corrections Complex was totally preventable.

I work in corrections as a field officer and understand well the need for high security with these inmates. Biendl was let down by her superiors and as a result lost her life, for what? What savings did the Department of Corrections reap from cutting corners such as this.

Biendl didn’t have to die, but she did because of the desire to save another buck by not having two officers in that chapel and no head count going in and again going out.

Why is Superintendent Scott Frakes still on the job and not on home assignment pending termination? He said it was the worst day of his career. His career? What about Jayme Biendl’s?

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    The loss of Officer Biendl is tragic and I pray for her family.

    But it’s not the fault of budget cuts. We don’t arm officers in prisons and I agree with that. What I disagree with is the free rein this state allows prisoners to run the prison. We are more concerned with the comfort and care than we are punishing them for ther crimes. Prisons need to be a worst place than hell. Three strike prisoners should never have the cuffs off outside their cell. Whey was this animal out of shackles. I bet it was because some ACLU attorney told the state they couldn’t punish people like they should be punished. This is not a money problem. This is a problem we have with the left wing, lip wristed, pencil necked geeks that don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings while they serve a life’s sentence. Lets demand that prision change they attitude and start laying out real punishment for crimes to society. Until we do so we put all our guards in danger.

    I know a correctional officer and she told me so.

  2. Perfect TaxedEnough. Lets solve the problem, and lets not pretend its a “budget” issue. Love your comment and agree with it 100%. Additionally, lets not pretend that women should work in a mens correctional facility in a capacity that has them ever in a potential situation to have to go head to head physically with an inmate. Its not politically correct, but you don’t want a 105 pound dude unarmed going up against a 200 plus pound hardened inmate either…..Lets look at the problem, and let’s recognize its not a money problem.

  3. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Not having two officers present at all times is an absolute example of negligence and ineptitude by management!

  4. JudasEscargot says:

    As the father of someone who works in corrections, in a kitchen where there are potential weapons and my offspring is outnumbered about 3 or 4 to one, I’m not amused at “taxed enough” or “TMell”, both of whom can safely comment without one day of experience on the inside.

  5. Why there is a chapel in the prison? It can’t be for religious services. I’ve been to plenty of church services in many parts of this country that were regularly held with the preacher underneath a basketball hoop in a school gym.

    I’m pretty sure it didn’t bother God and it sure didn’t bother the people assembled there.

    So tell me what the purpose of a chapel in a prison is.

  6. The state unfortunately do not care for the safety of their people. I work in a child support office where clients come in each day. There are times they are extremely hostile and our poor security guards are either in their 70s or young naive ones in their early twenties. No weapon. Just the uniform. It will happen one day there to that someone will get out of control & hurt one of us. In the welfare office the workers are required to do their interview with clients (most with mental issues} in a room by themselves. How safe is that? The clients also bring in a huge array of animals claiming service animal but no one sees any documentation. One day 2 men were in the waiting room. Each had a male pit bull dog. Kids are running all over & the dogs start fighting in the lobby.

  7. ~~~continued~~~ Dogs going full out at it with children inches away. Does the state enjoy being sued? This poor guard lost her life because they didn’t care enough. I hope her family sues them big & make them do some major changes in the way our employees are to be protected. I feel so terrible for her family. I can’t even imagine.

  8. pazzo242 says:

    The conditions in our prisons are subjected to federal law. Everything the inmates have is a result of ACLU attorneys suing the government and thus forcing counties and states to have TV, chapel, gym equipment, and various other perks. I agree with those who have stated that our prisons should be an absolute hell-hole but until the feds lighten up on their demands that is just not going to happen. We incarcerate people because they have committed crimes and 3-strikers deserve even less. Until we get rid of organizations such as the ACLU we will have more of these tragedies.

    This corrections officer was murdered because of exceptionally poor leadership and people who are running the facility that are stupider then the ones they house. There should be a camera system that is watching every move of prisoners and watching the backs of the guards.

    I’ve never worked in a prison but been around a lot of criminals (police officer) and all of us that work in the field know we can NEVER trust those folks. Jayme knew that and brought it to the attention of her supervisors, only to be rebuffed and pay the price for their stupidity.

  9. harleyrider1 says:

    Governor Christine supports her choice of Correctional Chief. The majority of Washingtonians fought hard to re-elect her. They are responsible. The touchy-feely policies of this state are absurd.
    Yes, there are prison guidelines but we are one of 50 states and we have the most free reign prisons in the country run by the most liberal people.

    Until you change your mind about the type of people you want and vote to run this state, policies about crime and prison life will not change. Shame on you. She did not have to die.

  10. pazzo242 says:

    Harleyrider—-you are so correct. Jayme’s blood is on several hands. I know the taxpayer will have to foot the bill but I pray that Jayme’s family takes the State for a load.

  11. commoncents says:

    Would we like to see cameras watching every inch of the prison and every prisoner 24-7? Absolutely…would we like the costs? Over and over again I see the comments regarding the liberal left and how they are soft on crime. Yet in the same breath these exact same people are complaining about the high taxes that they are paying. We have to strike a balance people!

    It is absolutely horrible that this woman died. But she was murdered. Why is it that on the outside you blame the perpetrator of the crime and not the system…yet on the inside it’s the system that failed? This was not due to budget cuts or gubernatorial decision making. She was in the exact position that she and other CO’s have been in for the last 15+ years…alone with inmates in the chapel. She let her guard down…remember, she had a silent alarm that was never triggered…and paid for it with her life. Her fault? No, his fault!

    As far as the “soft” treatment of the criminals…the prison system follows federal guidelines. We just had a Republican president for 8 years…and there was no change in how we treated prisoners. Why? Oh yeah, because there’s something in the constitution about cruel and unusual punishment and our Supreme Court has already decided that the treatment that many of you want to place on them is inhumane and cruel. Don’t like it? Don’t blame the ACLU, don’t blame the governor, blame the Supreme Court for interpreting the Constitution in that manner. Oh yeah – and as you do – remember they also intrepret it in such a way as to allow you the freedom to carry arms so that you can defend yourself against a tyrannical government that has enough advanced firepower that they scoff at your little .45 caliber pistol.

  12. theogsters says:

    From what I’ve read, I also believe officer Biendl’s death was preventable. Such tragidies are reported daily but this one really hit home. And yet we hear nothing of holding her management accoutable for putting her at such risk — no security camera, no backup. How can that be?

  13. JudasEscargot says:

    “Everything the inmates have is a result of ACLU attorneys”

    The same ACLU that kept Rush Limbaugh out of jail.

  14. JudasEscargot says:

    pazzo – unfortunately, in the State of Washington, unless extreme negligence can be proven, Labor and Industries has a set amount of money that will be offered for loss of life.

    Nice, huh? It’s one of those “frivolous lawsuit” laws.

  15. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Lock 3 strikers ( and, probably others) down for the duration. The easy way is to blame managers and I am sure Frakes will lose his job. But, the DOC culture is to grant liberties wherever possible. Stop this practice!! You’re in prison for life? You can’t go to chapel, a job, etc. That is easy and consistent, so no lawsuits.

  16. I’m forced to agree with 3pigs who said, “Not having two officers present at all times is an absolute example of negligence and ineptitude by management!”

    And the reason that this policy has not been adopted is due primarily, to what I read in commoncents’ comment; money.

    When the right wants to put a stranglehold on the state’s budget, when the voters accept Tim Eyman’s initiatives, and when the voters reject reasonable tax increases, bad things happen to good people.

    And yet they have the nerve to blame the governor, who is forced to work with her hands tied due to the lack of financial support the voters are willing to provide.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

  17. JudasEscargot says:

    “But, the DOC culture is to grant liberties wherever possible.”

    Where do you people get such tripe??????? My son can have a prisoner sent to lock up any time he needs and he is working in a minimum security facility.

  18. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    It isn’t about your son….please read the whole comment. The quote you cite is about DOC policy. It needs to change so that lifers, murder-rapists and others don’t get into “medium security” (where this guy was allowed to go to the chapel and kill someone) Not “tripe”, fact JE. Individual decisions by gaurds need to be taken out of the decision process.

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