The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jess Macinko
News Editor 

Top stories of 2017: The Sentinel's inside look at the county jail


January 3, 2018

file photo

A PRO WITH CONS: Robert Bianchi now runs the Klickitat County Jail.

On Dec. 26, 2014, an inmate at the Klickitat County jail assaulted a corrections officer. Patrolman Robert Bianchi investigated the attack. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed chief civil/jail deputy. The incident made a lasting impression on him.

"The big enemies in law enforcement are complacency and distraction," he says, speaking of security precautions he's introduced. Now, every shift must have a minimum staff of three, with a designated officer in charge. There is also a security committee to keep an eye out for weak points.

The jail, a 49-bed facility, occupies the basement of the Klickitat County Courthouse. Bianchi took on the administrative role two years ago, under then-newly elected Sherriff Bob Songer. Last Tuesday, The Sentinel toured the jail for the first time since the change in management.

The new administration espouses a shift in corrections philosophy, placing dual emphasis on security and the welfare of inmates and employees alike. Much of the time, Bianchi says, tension can be reduced or eliminated simply by treating the inmates fairly and without rancor.

"If there's a person who's late to visit [an inmate], we're going to let them visit. You're conveying that you're just doing your job. There's nothing personal."

Bianchi, who's had a long and varied career in law enforcement, is now on conversational terms with inmates he used to chase on the outside. But he also acknowledges the inherent strain of the work, and the importance of reducing negativity for employees' sake.


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