Sheriff Lucas cleans up for company

Nice to know Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas has good manners.

Lucas, who does not allow media interviews with inmates, will let reporters into the Clark County Jail for certain stories. Most recently, he said I could go in last year for a story about an increase in suicides and suicide attempts.

And inmates can call reporters collect, so during my decade on the courts beat I received several calls from inmates complaining about the miserable conditions. But the few times I’ve been in jail (all on assignment, I swear!), I haven’t observed anything shocking. Just to be clear, I am aware I get an edited tour. 

This was reinforced recently after the family of an inmate whose death was ruled a homicide filed a lawsuit in federal court. 

One of the family’s attorneys passed along three emails he’d received in response to a public disclosure request.


One email was from me to Commander Ric Bishop, asking if myself and a photographer could see the single cells where inmates are kept while on suicide watch.

To the left is Bishop’s email to Lucas (click on it to enlarge):



Here’s Lucas’ response:


Also, they are Lucas’ guests so he can call them whatever he likes, but I was surprised to see him use the word “prisoners.” 

The Columbian only uses “prisoners” to describe people who are in a  prison, which are state or federal facilities. We use “inmates” to describe residents of a local jail.

Enough talk about words. I’ll leave you with a glimpse of what I saw on my tour last year.


Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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