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Giving Prisoner Security Merits Dismissal of Washington Guard

The Washington State Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) has held that dismissal is the appropriate sanction for a guard’s willful act of giving a prisoner his state issued keys. Before the PAB was the appeal of Jevan Combs, a guard at Mc Neil Island Corrections Center (MICC).

Combs, has been a guard since 1996, and he has received no prior formal disciplinary action, but had been informed in a memo dated January 16, 2002, about his improper use of abusive language.

While assigned to MICC maximum security segregation unit on March 18,2002, guard Beverly Sanders saw prisoners Faletago, who was a porter charged with assisting guards and cleaning the unit, on the second tier open a cuff-port and toss something to the prisoner inside the cell. She announced this on the control booth speakers.

When Faletago heard that announcement, he descended the stairs and went towards Combs, who advised Sander’s that he would “take care of it.” Guard Wyman Rhodes, had walked up behind Combs. He observed Faletago hand Combs “a gold cuff-port key,” which Combs hooked to his belt.

Combs asked Rhodes if he thought Sanders would “snitch him off.” About a week later, Rhodes was in the break room with Sanders and Sgt Bailey. When asked if Faletago had been disciplined, Rhodes said, “oh! so you know about the keys?” They didn’t, and Sgt Bailey advised his supervisors.

Combs, was assigned to home pay on March 27, 2002. On July 29, his suspension became without pay and he was fired on August 14. The PBA agreed the sanction was not too severe, for Combs action violated the safety and security of the prison, demonstrating he could not be trusted to be a guard in light of the “outrageous breach of security.” See: Combs v Department of Corrections, PAB No: DISM-02-0070 (2004). The PAB ruling is in the brief bank.

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Related legal case

Combs v Department of Corrections