Inside Opinion

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Tag: Department of Corrections


How not to manage a problem prisoner

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

State prison officials have handed one of their biggest troublemakers a major legal victory – and possibly a heap of taxpayers’ money as well.

On Thursday, a unanimous state Supreme Court ruled that the state Department of Corrections must pay convicted arsonist Allan Parmelee’s attorney fees.

The case stems from a July 2005 letter Parmelee wrote to then-prison secretary Harold Clarke. Parmelee complained about the treatment of prisoners at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

Parmelee wrote that he had discovered what was causing all the tension at the prison: “Having a man-hater lesbian as a superintendent is like throwing gas on (an) already smoldering fire.”

Offensive? Yes, but no more so than how prison officials responded. They cited Parmelee for violating an arcane 1869 criminal libel law and gave him 10 days in isolation.

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So funny it hurts

Jason Mercier, one of my colleagues on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, dutifully alerts us to any court rulings involving open meetings and public records laws.

Today Jason slipped this state Court of Appeals decision into our email inboxes, without comment.  I don’t know if he even read it.  But it’s a real gem.  Here’s the gist:

A gentleman named Kevin Michael Mitchell,  currently enjoying the state’s hospitality at one of its fine penal institutions, hit a modest legal jackpot in a public-records lawsuit last year. Mr. Mitchell, an avid jailhouse lawyer, asked the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, a quasi-public agency,  to provide certain public information concerning a study the institute conducted for the state Department of Corrections.

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Use care in cutting off cons’ access to public records

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Prison inmates, by and large, don’t evoke much public sympathy. That helps explain why in a state like Washington, with its proud tradition of open government, a bill to limit prisoners’ access to public records passed the Legislature nearly unanimously this year.

Not that the bill didn’t have merit. We were among its supporters, in large part out of disgust for Allan Parmelee, a King County arsonist who makes sport out of filing public records requests for jailers’ and court officials’ personnel information.

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