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PRESS RELEASE: Ridgway to Return to Washington Prison

Released May 28, 2016

Contact Andrew Garber, (360) 515-6661

DOC Communications

OLYMPIA – The Department of Corrections on Friday told the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) that it wants serial killer Gary Ridgway returned to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. The decision was made after concerns from law enforcement that they wanted Ridgway, the so-called Green River killer, easily accessible if they had future needs to interview him about open murder investigations. A relative of one victim also criticized the move because families had not been notified.

After consultation with Gov. Jay Inslee, Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner informed the Federal Bureau of Prisons that Washington state would be flying Ridgway back from the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.

Inslee had not been informed of Ridgway’s transfer until it had been completed. Given the extraordinary circumstances of the case, Secretary Warner will notify victims’ families and consult with law enforcement before making any future changes in Ridgway’s incarceration.

State law requires victims who live near the prison where the inmate is moved to be notified. In this case there were none living in Colorado.

The decision to transfer Ridgway to Colorado was made because of the high level of security and personnel needed to house him at the state penitentiary.

DOC felt it would be good to get a fresh assessment from FBOP staff on the best way to safely house Ridgway for the rest of his life.

DOC asked the federal government to imprison Ridgway in what is known as the ADX prison at Florence. The facility is designed to manage high-risk inmates, including the Unabomber, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, and one of the Oklahoma City bombers.

The FBOP agreed to consider Ridgway for placement. However, their procedures require inmates to first be placed into an adjacent high security facility for intake and assessment before making a decision. That’s where Ridgway has been since being moved to Colorado in May.

Transferring inmates out of state is not unusual. DOC frequently moves inmates for various reasons, including safety concerns. Overall, the department currently has 54 inmates at out of state prisons, and houses 67 inmates from other states in Washington state prisons. Those figures include transfers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Since his arrival in Colorado, Ridgway has been housed in a maximum custody cell by himself with no access to the general prison population. That was his first stop as the federal prison officials assessed whether he would be kept in the ADX or “supermax” facility.