LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Officer not murdered because she was petite

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In response to Robert Coblens' letter to the editor -- Should petite women work at men's prison?

I would like to start by saying I am a mother, daughter, sister and I am a so-called "petite" female correctional officer who works in an all-male maximum security prison.

I take my job very seriously, I respect the inmates, and I know my life is in danger every day I go to work. But I take that risk.

My "petite" stature should not keep me from working. Unless Mr. Coblens would like to pay my bills, buy my groceries and put clothes on my child's back, I have to keep working.

There are not a lot of jobs available out there, and I believe having female staff at these facilities actually keeps some sort of balance. I chose this career path not only for the paycheck and benefits, but for the peace of mind I am helping keep the community safe.

Not all males on staff at these facilities are large and muscular. A lot of them are "petite." Should these men be able to work in such a facility? I think so.

Officer Biendl (may she rest in peace), I believe, was not murdered because she was petite. I believe she was murdered due to the fact she had to work alone amongst these inmates. Working alone makes anybody -- regardless of size -- vulnerable.

The suspected killer, an inmate, has a life sentence. He knows he will spend the rest of his life in prison, and I truly believe he would have committed this horrific crime on whoever was working alone at that post.

Any officer working alone is a tempting target. No officer should have to work alone. Hopefully, the investigation ordered by the governor will deal with this issue.

I did not have the opportunity to meet Officer Biendl (we worked at different facilities) but from what I understand, she was a much respected correctional officer, not only by staff, but also by a lot of the inmates. In fact, she was officer of the year in 2008. That is quite an accomplishment.

To Officer Biendl's family, my thoughts are with them, and I am so very sorry this had to happen.

To all of my fellow female correctional officers out there ... keep up the great work, be safe, and never let your "guard" down.

Lisa Stoddard
Walla Walla

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