Earlier this month, the public found out that Gary Ridgway, the notorious Green River Killer, was transferred by Jay Inslee’s administration to a Colorado prison in May for the sake of his comfort. Since being convicted of 49 murders over a span of nearly 20 years, Ridgway “has lived in virtual isolation at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where he’s serving a life sentence without parole.” The Seattle Times,
“In Washington, Ridgway’s notoriety would be a virtual death sentence in general population. Prison documents on his transfer, obtained through a public-records request, indicate he was easily recognizable and a target of other inmates.
“In Colorado, where Ridgway is less well known, he was to be placed in the general population, where presumably he could mingle with other inmates and have access to a job and other privileges, according to state Department of Corrections (DOC) documents and the Bureau of Prisons inmate manual for the Florence facility.”
Taxpayers forked over $20,000 in order to fly Ridgway to Colorado and ensure his comfort. As could be expected, the news of Ridgway’s transfer did not sit well with Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, former King County Sheriff and head of the Green River Task Force. Reichert called the transfer “unbelievable and absolutely intolerable.”
“I am incensed and outraged on behalf of the victim’s families, the task force detectives, patrol officers, scientists, hundreds of volunteers who dedicated their lives to bring this monster to justice and all law abiding citizens,” Reichert said. “These hardworking dedicated servants spent 20 years of their lives devoted to stopping Gary Ridgway from committing more crimes and solving those he did.”
“Ridgway should feel fortunate to spend the remainder of his life in solitary confinement,” Reichert said.
Reichert isn’t alone in viewing Ridgway’s transfer as an insult. On Monday, the sister of Ridgway’s 49th victim held a news conference where she stated her disgust with the state Department of Corrections. The Seattle Times,
“Hosting a news conference at her sister’s gravesite at Riverton Crest Cemetery in Tukwila, Mary Marrero labeled the Department of Corrections (DOC) ‘dumb’ and called Ridgway a ‘heartless psychopath who took pleasure in strangling women.’ She said he doesn’t deserve new opportunities at a Colorado prison.
“‘Why is the Department of Corrections giving this notorious serial killer special treatment?” she said. “Shame on the Department of Corrections.’”
Reichert joined Marrero at the press conference, criticizing the state for the secrecy surrounding Ridgway’s transfer. Reichert said that the “public should have known this was in the works” and that there is “something wrong in the Department of Corrections.”
Certainly, there is something wrong with the Department of Corrections. And, there is also something wrong with Governor Inslee, who must have known and approved of the transfer. The fact that Inslee is now claiming he did not know of the Ridgway’s transfer in advance is striking.
Inslee is either not telling the truth or he is so disrespected by state officials that they do not bother to notify him of major decisions. Those are the options and neither look good for Inslee.
Inslee set a terrible precedent for the manner in which our state treats victims when he announced in February 2014, without notice, debate or public discussion, that he would refuse to carry out the state’s death penalty laws. Inslee said that if any death penalty case arrives on his desk, he would decline to act on it.
The transfer of Ridgway, for the sake of his comfort and at the taxpayers’ expense, is the direct result of Inslee’s disrespect for victims.