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$13,500 Damages Paid to Two Illegally Detained Washington DOC Prisoners

The Washington state Division of Risk Management (DRM) paid claims totaling $13,000 to two state prisoners who were illegally arrested and incarcerated by the Washington Department of Corrections. Michael Buffington had been sentenced in King County Superior Court to two months county jail for possession of heroin. The court's order included community placement/custody provisions as well as a promise to stay the sentence if an appeal were filed. It was - and the court ordered his release on recognizance on April 9, 2001.

Notwithstanding the stay, on August 18, 2001, Buffington was arrested and detained for 18 days at the King County Jail on a DOC warrant that was based upon an August DOC Report of Alleged Violations claiming Buffington had "escaped." Only on September 5, 2001 did a DOC hearing officer recognize the stay of sentence provision and order Buffington's release.

Bainbridge Island attorney Theodore Spearman filed a claim to the DRM based on Buffington's loss of liberty, emotional distress, humiliation and financial loss. The claim was settled on April 30, 2002 with a payment of $6,000. See: Michael Buffington, DRM Claim No. 31053680.

Gregory Allen completed his full Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) sentence in December, 2000, but remained on probation for monitoring of financial obligations. Nonetheless, WA DOC hauled him in for a "hearing" in February, 2001, wherein they "revoked" his DOSA and resentenced him to 90 days in prison. He was first sent to Washington Correctional Center at Shelton, then to Olympic Work Camp. The Camp had no knowledge why he was sent there, so they put him in the hole. He was later transferred to Clallam Bay Correctional Center, still in maximum security. There, he was assaulted by another prisoner who tried to kill him with a weapon. Returned finally to Shelton, he requested his counselor and the Attorney General review his file. Seeing only then that he had been wrongfully incarcerated for 60 days, they ordered his immediate release.

Tacoma attorney Gregory Wilson filed a claim for Allen alleging his loss of liberty, threats, assaults and maximum security placement because WA DOC "had no idea what to do with him." DRM paid a settlement of $7,500 on March 29, 2002. See: Gregory Allen, DRM claim no. 31052882.

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Related legal cases

Michael Buffington

Gregory Allen