A couple weeks ago, we wrote that a three-strikes reform bill currently before the legislature has a better chance of passing this year than any bill like it has had in years. No more. This past weekend, three-striker Byron Scherf, an inmate at the Monroe Correctional Complex, allegedly killed a beloved guard in the prison chapel, according to law enforcement authorities.
Kline's bill would allow for the eventual release of serial purse-snatchers and other relatively low-level offenders who have been sentenced to life without parole under the state's three-strikes law. Scherf, in contrast, is a repeated rapist who once kidnapped a waitress and set her aflame with gasoline after assaulting her.
Still, Kline concedes that some legislators might lump all three-strikers together. While he nonetheless continues to voice high hopes for his bill, Steven Dozier is more pessimistic. "Every time reform starts, something like this comes along and slams the door shut," says Dozier, a three-striker who received clemency in 2009 and now lives in Seattle.
What's more, Dozier acknowledges that the killing may lead to a clamp-down at Monroe. For years, the facility has been considered the most inmate-friendly prison in the state, with a variety of educational, treatment, and enrichment programs.
For that, Scherf has undoubtedly earned the enmity of other inmates. That's not the only reason, however, that Scherf better watch his back at the prison, according to Dozier. Himself a former Monroe inmate, he says he remembers slain Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl's first day. "She was scared to death," Dozier remembers. "After a while, she came to realize that every [inmate] wasn't crazy. She talked to you like a person."
"There's guys in there--they respected that lady," Dozier says. "They're mourning her loss."
As for Scherf, Dozier says nobody would have expected this of him. "He kept to himself," Dozier says, but he wasn't particularly aggressive. Dozier says the convicted rapist also had a wife who visited him regularly--showing, as does Caleb Hannan in this week's cover story on McNeil Island's Romeo, that even the worst of the worst somehow find women who love them.