FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
CONTACT: Judy Beck, 444-0409
HELENA – Montana Department of Corrections deputy director Loraine Wodnik and Montana State Prison warden Leroy Kirkegard on Wednesday laid a wreath at the law enforcement memorial on the capitol grounds to recognize the contribution made by the men and women who work in Montana’s prisons and other corrections professions.
“This ceremony reminds us that, while Montana’s corrections professionals aren’t out in the public eye, they are at work 24/7, 365 days a year, to keep our communities safe,” Wodnik said. “But just because they are largely out of sight, they shouldn’t be out of mind.”
Drill instructors from the Treasure State Training Center in Deer Lodge who served as the color guard for the ceremony were Lt. Terry Dovey, Sgt. Saajid Muhammad, Sgt. Jacob Nelson and Sgt. Dan Williamson.
“Today, we recognize all corrections staff – whether that’s the correctional officers working in our prisons, the probation and parole officers conducting home visits in the community, the clinical staff who provide medical and mental health services, or the counselors who work with the young offenders at one of our youth correctional facilities,” Warden Kirkegard said. “They all deserve our thanks.”
The ceremony was held in conjunction with National Correctional Professionals Week, which runs from May 2 to 6. National Correctional Employees Week was created in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan to acknowledge the work done by the men and women serving in the field of corrections.
The names of four Montana corrections employees are engraved in the stone memorial that honors officers killed in the line of duty:
- Deputy warden John Robinson – Robinson was stabbed to death by two inmates he had escorted to the warden’s office on March 8, 1908.
- Officer Frank L. Russell – Russell, 58, died of an accidental gunshot wound as he carried two rifles and a bag containing ammunition and a .45 caliber Colt revolver to his duty station in a prison tower. As he dropped the bag, the Colt fired, hitting Russell in the head. Russell left his wife and two children.
- Deputy warden Theodore Rothe – Rothe was shot and died on Thursday, April 16, 1959, during a prison riot in which inmates took 16 correctional officers hostage. The 35-hour riot ended when the Montana National Guard stormed the prison and regained control. Deputy warden Rothe, 40, was survived by his wife and two children.
- Correctional officer Richard Wallace – Wallace died on December 30, 1985, when a propane tank exploded in the MSP administration building that was under construction. Wallace left his wife and children.
Photos and additional information about the officers killed are available at the Officer Down Memorial website: http://www.odmp.org/.