Our Voice: Thumbs up to Supreme Court ruling against vicious thug

November 11, 2013 

Righteous ruling

To the state Supreme Court for ruling last week that former Gov. Christine Gregoire acted properly when she canceled the parole of a man who stabbed and shot a Richland police officer 31 years ago.

Jerry D. Lain, 54, was found eligible for parole in 2011 and was set to be freed in December.

But days before his release, Gregoire blocked it, noting that while behind bars he committed 23 infractions in 18 incidents and has a moderate to high risk to commit another violent crime.

Gregoire invoked a provision in state law that allowed her to keep Lain locked up and ask that he serve out the life sentence originally ordered by a Benton County judge. A state board instead ordered him to spend three more years in prison.

Last week, the court found Gregoire's actions were constitutional in Lain's case.

Lain was convicted of stabbing Officer Mike Fitzpatrick seven times, then shooting him twice during a car prowl investigation near the Richland Y on Sept. 7, 1982. Fitzpatrick -- who was 20 minutes shy of his 29th birthday -- recovered, but the viciousness of Lain's attack made it clear his intent was to kill the young officer.

How the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board decided it was acceptable to release Lain and send him back to Iowa, where he was wanted on a parole violation at the time of the attack on Fitzpatrick, is beyond comprehension.

Thanks to Gregoire for blocking that terrible decision. And thanks to the Supreme Court for backing her decision.

Retaining rituals

To the genius who came up with the idea of bringing Halloween to the Life Care Center of Richland.

It provides a safe trick-or-treating venue for kids and gives the center's residents a chance to continue participating in the annual ritual. It's tough to leave your home for a facility. Regardless of the quality of care, you're giving up the familiar, comforting details that define a home.

The nocturnal visits from little ghosts and goblins every Oct. 31 are something to look forward to when you reside in a neighborhood. Thanks to the Life Care Center's Halloween party, the 75 residents still can count on this entertaining custom to brighten winter's approach.

Questionable performance

To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for lax oversight of the tour-bus industry it's supposed to monitor.

Last week, federal accident investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board called for an investigation of the agency, saying its own look into four crashes that killed 25 people raised "serious questions" about how well it is doing its job.

The agency needs to crack down on bad actors in the tour-bus industry "before crashes occur, not just after high visibility events," Deborah Hersman, chairman of the NTSB, told The Associated Press.

The deadly tour bus crashes happened in California, Oregon, Kentucky and Tennessee during the past year. The NTSB found that in each case, the motor carrier safety agency identified "red flags," but didn't take action until after the crashes.

That's a damning conclusion. Those who failed to adequately protect the traveling public should be held accountable.

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