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Law

Witness: Corrections “completely failed” in Clemmons case

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Department of Corrections failed to adequately supervise Maurice Clemmons from the day he arrived in Washington from Arkansas. That's the conclusion of a former corrections supervisor who's now an expert witness in a new lawsuit against the Department.

Clemmons was a violent Arkansas parolee on supervision in Washington when he gunned down four Lakewood police officers in 2009. Now the families of two of those officers have filed a formal notice to sue the Department of Corrections.

Expert witness William Stough worked for that agency for more than 20 years. He reviewed how Clemmons was supervised when he first moved to Washington from Arkansas in 2004. Stough found numerous times Clemmons failed to report to his community supervision officer.

"If it appears there's a violation, which with him there are a number of them, then action is to be taken,” Stough said. "And action with someone like him should have meant jail. Arkansas would have been notified and most likely he would have been sent back to Arkansas."

But that didn't happen. In fact, in 2006 corrections moved Clemmons to a lower level of supervision. He had almost no contact with the department until his arrest for a series of new crimes just before the Lakewood police murders.

A department spokesman says the agency does not comment on pending lawsuits. But previously its director has said standards for supervising felons in the community have improved since Clemmons came to Washington.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.