Last week, I wrote about the story of Kathy Parkins. Parkins was a 51-year-old medical marijuana patient from Washington who was arrested in late 2007 after being pulled over in Arizona with a small amount of marijuana. She was allowed to serve out her probation in Seattle, but ran into some corruption and incompetence within the Washington Department of Corruptions, including being illegally detained and kept in jail for a week in May 2008 without any charges. Following that, she spent over a year trying to get a hold of a document that showed that a corrections officer falsified information in an attempt to have her sent back to Arizona. The document was finally released in the most recent public disclosure request and contained several fabrications – things that clearly could not have been accidental.
I’d also mentioned that Carla Cole, Parkins’ roommate at the time of the arrest, had been trying to get an explanation from the DOC. In February 2009, DOC Head Eldon Vail sent Cole a reply claiming that the officers didn’t inaccurately fill out paperwork or fabricate anything. At the time, the DOC was still refusing to let Parkins actually see the report in question, an Interstate Compact form that allowed for her to serve out her probation here. So after the report was revealed in the public disclosure request – proving that, in fact, Officer Jeremy Praven made several things up – she sent off another letter to Vail asking for an explanation.
In a letter dated last Wednesday, February 10, the DOC once again tried to claim that there’s nothing to see here, although the letter did not come directly from Vail. It was from Regional Administrator Jim Harms:
I have been asked to respond to your letter dated January 24, 2010 addressed to Secretary Eldon Vail. You wrote about information contained in a public disclosure request response concerning the Washington State Department of Corrections and medical marijuana, and the circumstances of the arrest of your former tenant, Kathleen Merry in May 2008.
We take the concerns of you, and in fact, all citizens very seriously and carefully review all complaints. As Secretary Vail indicated in his February 20, 2009 letter to you, your allegations of misconduct were investigated. Both the Unit Supervisor and the Field Administrator followed up with identified staff.
I apologize for any confusion or frustration this incident caused you, but no indications of misconduct, intended inaccuracies or fabrications have been found in this case.
Once again, you can see the document in question in this PDF file of released documents, pages 20 to 22. As I documented last week, within that report, Praven makes a number of completely fictional claims:
– That Parkins has no family ties to Washington state and only came here because of the medical marijuana laws. In fact, Parkins has lived in Washington state nearly her entire life, only recently deciding to move to California. Her children and grandchild live here, along with 9 aunts and uncles.
– That Cole belongs to an organization called the ‘Marijuana’s Growers Association of Washington’. No such organization has ever existed.
– That Parkins was not authorized to use medical marijuana in Washington state. Parkins had received an updated authorization that morning. She claims that when she offered to show it to Officer Praven, he wasn’t interested in seeing it.
There simply isn’t any ambiguity about this. Anyone with rudimentary critical thinking skills can recognize that these lies showed up in Praven’s report as an attempt to have Parkins sent back to Arizona. Coupled with the fact that Praven illegally detained Parkins before filling out this document – and then left her in jail for a week without any information about why she was being held – there’s no justification at all for claiming that no misconduct occurred. And it’s a clear lie that no intended inaccuracies or fabrications ended up in Parkins’ paperwork.