Ore. says it has stepped up oversight of inmate work crews in light of attack
Supervisors will now “visually account” for each prisoner at 15-minute intervals and keep crews closer together
By Noelle Crombie
SALEM, Ore. — Two state agencies have taken “interim steps” to shore up security for a prison work crew program that supervised an inmate who escaped and allegedly unleashed a severe beating on two women visiting a Washington County campground.
The Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Forestry issued a joint statement Thursday saying they are working with investigators to ensure prisoner Jedaiah Lunn, 36, is held accountable.
The agencies said a review of the circumstances leading to Lunn’s April 14 escape from a work crew is underway and that they are “committed to sharing our findings with the public and implementing improvements to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident occurring again.”
Three months after Lunn walked away from the inmate crew in the Gales Creek Campground, the two agencies disclosed for the first time that they suspended operations at the program for about 10 days to cooperate with the Oregon State Police investigation into the escape and assault.
Work crews have resumed, however, and the agencies said they have taken steps to improve supervision, including “visually accounting” for each prisoner at 15-minute intervals and keeping crews closer together.
At the time Lunn walked off, inmates apparently were supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes, the agencies said.
The departments have provided additional training on how to identify drug impairment and would follow up on reports from employees about inmates who are assigned to the work crews, their statement said.
It is not clear whether Lunn was impaired when he escaped; the case against him is pending and investigators have not disclosed details of what happened.
The agencies also said they would increase “random spot checks” of the crews “to provide additional oversight.”
The agencies still have not provided a public accounting of Lunn’s escape. It is unclear how many state employees were supervising the crews, what time Lunn was last seen by a supervisor and when Lunn was reported missing by the Department of Corrections or the Department of Forestry.
A lawsuit filed this week against both agencies by the two women who were allegedly assaulted by Lunn claims that Lunn was allowed to work in a five-acre area without supervision for “multiple hours.” A witness told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the men on the crew appeared to be lightly supervised that day.
The lawsuit also claims that neither agency realized Lunn had walked off and instead were told by police after witnesses reported came upon the gravely injured women.
The extent of the attack was revealed in a letter from Consul General Masaki Shiga of the Consular Office of Japan to Gov. Kate Brown. Shiga sent the letter about two weeks after the attack; The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained the letter last month through a public records request.
The victims are Japanese women who were on a walk at the Gales Creek Campground when authorities say they encountered Lunn who beat them and stole one of the women’s cars. He was caught hours later in Sauvie Island.
Last week, Lunn was charged in the assaults. He faces 11 felony counts and entered a not guilty plea during his first court appearance.
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