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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

October 20, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Jail guards’ union opposes TV for inmate accused of killing officer

The King County Corrections Guild (KCCG) has joined the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Police Officers’ Guild in opposing a decision by the King County Jail to place a TV in the cell of Christopher Monfort, who is accused of killing a Seattle officer and wounding his partner three years ago.

The statement by Sgt. Doug Justus, president of the KCCG, reads as follows:

We join our law enforcement colleagues in opposing the decision to extend special treatment to inmate Christopher Monfort, the accused murderer of Officer Timothy Brenton.  We objected to management when we were informed of their decision to install a TV set in Monfort’s cell, and we continue to object.

We have enjoyed an outstanding working relationship with Executive Dow Constantine.  For example, we support his budget proposal for our department that is currently before the County Council.  When it comes to jail operations, however, all too often our management makes decisions without our input, or contrary to our advice.

Monfort is not the first long-term inmate housed in isolation in the King County jail.  Nor is he the first inmate with special medical needs.  He is, however, the first inmate who has received special treatment in the form of a TV set.  This decision sets a troubling precedent.  What special treatment will other ultra-high security inmates now demand?

We will be inviting Director Claudia Balducci to our next Board meeting to discuss this incident and other serious concerns we have.

The third anniversary of the murder of Officer Brenton is only days away.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brenton family, and to our colleagues in the Seattle Police Department.  We join them in objecting to this disappointing and insensitive decision by our management.”

Jail officials decided to install the TV in Monfort’s cell to ease his isolation, Balducci tells The Times. Because he is in a wheelchair and has other medical issues, he is kept isolated away from other inmates designated ultra-security.

“We were looking for ways to provide some type of interaction, some way of being involved with other human beings. All of the other inmates have that and he does not,” Balducci said. “Our job is to keep people stable and to keep them safe so they can get through their court cases. In doing that we try to provide as humane environment we can.”

Monfort defense attorney Carl Luer called the move “a reasonable response to a medical necessity.”

Monfort is charged with aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of Timothy Brenton and attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Britt Sweeney on Oct. 31, 2009. If convicted, Monfort could face the death penalty.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Christopher Monfort, death penalty, King County Corrections Guild

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