OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire has blocked the release of an Iowa man convicted of nearly killing a Richland police officer 28 years ago, her office announced today.
The governor signed the order Thursday night canceling the parole release of Jerry Dean Lain. He had been scheduled for release Monday by order of Washington’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.
“It is rare for a governor to exercise this power,” Gregoire said in a statement. “But I reviewed the case and concluded there is an unacceptable level of risk to public safety here that called for me to act.”
Former Richland officer Mike Fitzpatrick had asked Gregoire to intervene. Fitzpatrick was stabbed seven times and shot in the face and abdomen in 1982 after he approached Lain, he was seen prowling cars. Lain was convicted of assault and has been in prison ever since.
If he had been released, he was to go to Iowa, where he was wanted on violating parole for a stabbing in a bar fight. Rowlanda Cawthon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said that Lain would have been released to a “work release center/halfway house” in Sioux City.
A message left with Fitzpatrick was not immediately returned today.
In her order, Gregoire noted that Lain has had more than 20 infractions while in prison, including threatening staff. While he hadn’t been cited for any problems since 2004, Gregoire wrote that she was concerned by a 2009 risk evaluation that found Lain was placed in a group “at a high risk of recidivism for both general and violent crimes in the range of medium to high risk.”
“I am particularly concerned that the potential for violence would be escalated in any future contact with law enforcement officers that could lead to revocation of his parole release,” she said.
Gregoire wrote that while Lain, 53, has made “creditable gains” during his time in prison, including educational courses, anger management classes and vocational experience, “I conclude that his rehabilitation is not complete and he is not a fit subject for release from prison.”
While the governor has the authority to overrule the board, it hasn’t been used in nearly 30 years.
Lynne DeLano, chairwoman of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, said that the last time a governor held up a board decision was in March 1984, when then-Gov. John Spellman canceled the parole release of Dorothy Judge. She was sentenced in 1981 to 10 years in prison for negligent homicide for driving drunk and killing three boys playing on the side of a road, DeLano said.
Spellman asked the board, then called the Washington state Board of Prison Terms and Paroles, to conduct another hearing on her case. They came to the same conclusion that Judge should be released on parole, Spellman didn’t intervene again and Judge was released the following month, DeLano said.