Editorials

Governor deserves credit for keeping killer locked up

Gov. Chris Gregoire has a tough audience in Eastern Washington, but she definitely earned some points here with her recent decision to revoke the parole of man who tried to kill a Richland police officer in 1982.

The governor used a little-known law that allowed her to override the decision of the state's parole board, which unfathomably had determined that Jerry Dean Lain was suitable for release after nearly three decades in prison.

We believe in redemption and the possibility of reform, but Lain forfeited his right to freedom with his cold-blooded attack on Mike Fitzpatrick.

He stabbed the Richland officer seven times, then got hold of his service revolver and deliberately shoved it underneath his protective vest before firing. Finally, he put the handgun to Fitzpatrick's chin, execution style, and fired a final shot.

That Fitzpatrick lived is a miracle. That he's still in law enforcement is a testament to his will and his passion for justice.

Fitzpatrick lobbied the news media when Lain was set to be released, unleashing a barrage of criticism for the state parole board and a call for the governor to take action.

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.

Lain was just as bad behind bars as he was outside. He had been denied parole many times because of his poor record in prison. Back in Iowa he had blinded a fellow prisoner, and he continued to rack up infractions in prison during his decades here.

This is a calculating and determined monster who has given no one any reason to believe he would not continue to hurt people if he were freed.

It took courage for Gov. Gregoire to use a provision that rarely has been exercised before. But a sense of justice prevailed, and that should be enough for those who disagree with her politics to give her a momentary break.

Fitzpatrick and his family can breathe a little easier as well. His courage is obvious. His tenacity helped the governor decide to keep a dangerous man in prison where he belongs.

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