(there is a video included on the link and may be more touching than just reading the article that I am about to cut and paste)
by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News
Posted on December 15, 2009 at 6:13 PM
MONROE, Wash. - It's a cold and unforgiving place - a place you'd expect to find nothing but bitterness and hatred toward police. But at the Monroe State Reformatory, the heartless killings of four Lakewood police officers are softening even the most hardened criminals.
"The first thing that went through my mind was, 'oh no, not again'," said triple murderer Tony Wheat, who killed three gas station clerks during robberies 44 years ago and who is serving a life sentence at Monroe.
He's part of a prison organization called "Concerned Lifers" where those serving life terms try to mentor young convicts and keep them from reoffending. Wheat says the Lakewood killings shocked many inside the reformatory's walls.
"We thought, maybe it's about time we start showing some appreciation and concerns, and doing what little we can and show that even though we are removed from society, we are a part of it," he said.
Wheat and a small group of convicts, most of whom will never set foot outside the prison's walls, are now organizing a fund for the families of the Lakewood officers.
Lifer Herb Blumer earns less than 50 cents an hour making furniture for state offices. He wants to give all he can to the cause, realizing in a case like this it really is the thought that counts.
"I felt that this donation might be a message to let them know that we share their grief and we share their pain," he said.
Maurice Clemmons executed four Lakewood police officers as the say sipping coffee and going over reports earlier this month, leaving nine children without one of their parents.
Inmates say they want to honor the officers' families with donations, but also their legacies by making sure another Maurice Clemmons doesn't come out of Monroe.
Three-strikes felon Curtis Caton says there are plenty of prisoners who are indifferent or even happy about the Lakewood murders. And those are precisely the people he wants to get to donate to the cause.
"Then we can hopefully change them and say 'look, you don't want to be like that. There's a better life for you out there'," he said.
With lifetimes yet to serve in prison, these fundraisers have little to gain in their cause. They simply hope to help heal broken lives... and perhaps themselves as well.
"When that cell door closes on your cage at night, day after day, year after year, you think about the impact your crime had on the victims," said Blumer. "This is a way to seek redemption. It's a way to give back and atone for the things that you've done."