The thirteen prisons in the state observed a moment of silence on Sunday at 1:35pm to honor Officer Jayme Biendl. It was her birthday.
Her death a week ago has affected corrections officers as well as police officers and their families, offenders and their families, Department of Corrections decision-makers and staff. There's a huge running debate on news blogs about the dangers of women working in prisons--mostly written by people who have no idea what it is like to work in prison. Much of the knee-jerk reaction amounts to, "Make life miserable for anyone behind bars. They deserve it."
Every now and then someone will remind those commenting that 96% of those in prison will someday be returning to the community. What kind of mood do you want them to be in when they get out?
There are serious questions to be addressed: Why didn't anyone look for the chapel officer when they located the missing offender in the chapel? Why did it take an hour before anyone went looking for her? What will be done to begin the healing?
In the town where I live, a "Moment of Blessing" happens any place there has been a murder. It is a way of reclaiming the space, a way to say, "There was more to this person than how she died." In that spirit, I hope there is some special prayer in the chapel at Monroe, that people will gather to reclaim the goodness that can happen in prison. Jayme Biendl was part of that goodness.