From the February 2009 Idaho Observer:

Lying as a management tool

More people are learning to not trust the government. But, even if people believe government is not telling the truth, they are reluctant to bring them to task for its obvious lies and distortions. Our cultural reluctance in this regard has allowed government to use lying as a management tool, even when there is no reason to do so.

I am currently in the custody of the Washington State Department of Corrections at the Airway Heights Corrections Center (ARCC) and am the proud possessor of a Brother ML500, 32K typewriter. As things would happen, this archaic piece of machinery has broken down a couple of times and I must to send it out for repair. The first time I did so my sister paid for the repairs and it was sent back with no problem.

The next time, unbeknownst to me, someone had decided that family couldn’t pay for repair because inmates had to pay out of their accounts. It turned out that no such policy existed. I put in a first-level grievance about the change in rules without a reason and I got an answer back on the grievance that it was policy. Sgt. Erickson, who investigated the grievance, stated that it was policy but neglected to give me the policy number. After many attempts to ascertain the policy number I found no proof that any such policy exists. I even went through the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.56, to make certain of my facts concerning typewriter repair.

I went to the second level of the grievance system. The answer from Lt. Duenich was that, since they had given me my typewriter, after many "kites" and six weeks, there was no problem. They said, on the second level grievance that the superintendent had signed a memo allowing families to pay for repair. But no such memo exists.

Next I wrote to Olympia, on a third-level grievance and got a reply from Devon Young who stated that the policy had required me to pay for repairs out of my inmate account but the superintendent had changed it. Remember these are official grievances and constitute a breach of ethics when a false answer is given, punishable under the RCWs by dismissal or reprimands placed in their records. No policy or memo supporting Young’s response have been found to exist.

I then complained to Governor Gregiore’s office and guess who investigated for DOC here at ARCC? Lieutenant Duenich, the second level grievance "investigator" (and one of the officers I had requested to be sanctioned for his duplicity in the great typewriter repair conspiracy). I wrote to Olympia again asking why Duenich would investigate his own misconduct and was told by Deputy Director of Prisons Earl X. Wright that they "frequently assign grievance investigation to the people who know the most about them."

There was no need to lie about the non-existing policy or memo, after all I’m an inmate and they are staff. The only consolation I have is that someday, hopefully soon, I will be gone and these lying sycophants will still be here. Unfortunately, however, they will probably continue lying to inmates just for the sake of lying—as a management tool.

ARCC, in March of 2008, finally put out a policy concerning repair. Somewhere I have a letter over turning that policy. What a way to run a prison system. They make most prisoners look like angels compared to some of their antics. We can only hope someday honesty will come back into vogue.

George Bartz

Airway Heights, Washington