<< Larch Corrections Center, a Washington State Prison, is set to close in October, according to the state’s Department of Corrections. At the time, the officials explained this decision was due to a decline in the statewide prison population, and a surplus of minimum security beds.
However, since the news nearly three weeks ago, many corrections workers at the facility and community members who live nearby have spoken out against the planned closure, and are now fighting to keep it open.
A group of more than 100 people met earlier this month to discuss the importance of Larch Corrections Center, and how they can advocate for its continued operation. Speakers highlighted inmates’ contributions to fighting wildfires, Larch’s one-of-a-kind educational environment, and its unique, long-standing relationship with the community in Southwest Washington. >>
<<“First and foremost, we’d say that it has nothing to do with the facility itself, or the performance of the staff,” said Chris Wright, a spokesperson for the DOC. “It’s primarily because of its location. It’s remotely located there in the southwest part of the state… on a mountain, literally, compared to our other facilities. And it’s in need of an estimated $31 million in repairs and infrastructure improvements over the next decade or so.”>>
<<“The plan is to make 70 beds available in Longview, and that’s not a prison — that’s a reentry center,” said Wright. “It’s actually, we think, a more beneficial location. It’s a little farther away.”>>
<<“Pretty much the only solution for keeping the facility open long term would be giving people more stiff sentences, say for simple drug possession, and I think in this part of the country especially it’s pretty clear we we moved away from that,” Wright said. >>
<<Patrick Landers Sr. remembers, down to the minute, the call that came to warn him his 12-year-old son was in danger.
It was 5:48 p.m. on Wednesday when his neighbor told him that someone had just driven toward his Damascus home. Landers jumped into his truck and drove back to his house as fast as he could, speeding past a police barricade and ignoring the Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies’ bullets that pierced his tires.
Landers showed up within minutes, but he was minutes too late. His son, Patrick Landers Jr., was dead on the stairs. The suspected killer, 34-year-old Rickoshay Kerr, was dead as well. Landers’ dogs, Zeus and Cujo, were also killed.
He believes the death could’ve been prevented, either by law enforcement or in the courtroom where Landers said Kerr openly threatened to kill himself the day before the shooting. Kerr, who was in the middle of a divorce with Landers’ daughter, Lacie Kerr, was at a restraining order hearing. The court granted Landers’ daughter the restraining order. It was the second one this year.
Landers said deputies should have acted faster to save his son and that he was frustrated that Kerr wasn’t held after his statement at the hearing. He said deputies should have immediately gone inside, instead of setting up a barricade outside the home.
“The cops were sitting at the top of the street setting up a barricade when they should’ve been down in the house,” Landers said Saturday. “It cost my son his life. The courts not doing their job cost my son his life.”
Sheriff’s deputies had responded to the Southeast Delia Street home about 5:55 p.m. Wednesday after multiple neighbors reported seeing a man in the area with a gun. Sheriff’s officials said in a statement that they believed a man had broken into the home in violation of a restraining order. It is believed Landers’ son was home alone at the time.
The sheriff’s office said deputies were walking towards the house when Landers Sr. arrived.
When Landers drove past, deputies fired to try to shoot out the tires and stop his truck, the sheriff’s office said.
Officials heard gunfire shortly after 6 p.m. and entered the house, where they found one injured person with a gun and another person with a gunshot wound to the head. Deputies called for LifeFlight and began chest compressions on Patrick, who died at the scene, according to sheriff’s officials.
Landers said Kerr called his daughter on FaceTime during the shooting, showing his son on the ground with blood on him before shooting himself.
He said his daughter had called police multiple times to warn them about Kerr, but Landers said law enforcement did nothing to help her.>>
<<Lacie Kerr said in court documents that her husband was abusive toward her before and during their marriage, including assaulting her, throwing her against a dresser and shaking her. She said she did not report the abuse to police because her husband had promised to get counseling.
Lacie Kerr in April moved with the couple’s son into her parents’ home after another alleged incident of domestic violence and filed for divorce later that month, court records show.
Lacie Kerr said she moved into her parents’ home because of its locked gate and security cameras.
But, according to the memo from Tuesday’s restraining order hearing, she was still “terrified (Kerr) will retaliate in anger.”>>