OLYMPIA, Wash. – 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 Friday.
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."
The governor has the authority to overrule the board, but it's not known when it was last used.
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"We don't think it's been used in at least 30 years, if ever," said Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren.
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.
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."