Statesman Journal from Salem, Oregon on January 19, 1989 · Page 3
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Statesman Journal from Salem, Oregon · Page 3

Salem, Oregon
Issue Date:
Thursday, January 19, 1989
Page 3
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Statesman-Journal, Salem, Ore., Thursday, January 19, 1989, 3A Michael Francke's death: 'A sad day for Oregon' Gov. Neil Goldschmidt Prisem eGiDf sylhs dhalDeneges in life 3- r """- " ::::4 ' 1 8.r,i. , I., j ..Mum . i .'nil ' i ,- , .r Ai ' r i iir'ilin'i l ll By Cathy Beckham Of the Statesman-Journal Michael Francke once said that he worked as he skied always looking for the toughest challenge. "I'm a double-black-diamond daredevil," he said in May 1987 after Gov. Neil Goldschmidt chose him to head the state Department of Corrections. The two black diamonds he referred to mark the most difficult ski runs on a mountain. Francke, 42, was found dead early Wednesday. He had been stabbed in the heart. Francke once said that he came to Oregon because the state had a prison system "with a lot of pressure on it. I wanted to be in a system that was facing that problem a population crunch with a governor who's behind a solution." If Goldschmidt hadn't given his support to finding a solution to the overcrowding, Francke had said, he likely wouldn't have accepted the job: "I don't want to be the captain of the Titanic on its last run." Francke had served as the head of the New Mexico Corrections Department from 1983 until January 1987, when a new governor took office. He had taken the job three years after 33 people were killed in a massive riot. In New Mexico, he eliminated all two-bunk cells and introduced a man datory training program for corrections officers. He also established an employee grievance system. Francke had gone to work for the state in 1975 as a lawyer with the New Mexico attorney general's office. Later, he became a general counsel to the corrections department, the director of the investigations division and the Medicaid fraud control unit, and the deputy attorney general in charge of the criminal division. He was appointed as a district court judge in 1980 and was the administrator of the Santa Fe County Juvenile Detention Facility. Kevin Jackson, a spokesman for the juvenile detention department, said he took calls all day Wednesday from Francke's friends, colleagues and former co-workers who wanted to know the circumstances surrounding Francke's death. Francke took time from his professional schedule in New Mexico to serve as one of the five founding board members of Santa Fe Community College. "He was an outstanding board member," college President Bill Witter said. "He was excited about educational opportunities for those who couldn't go to a four-year college and those who were working and needed to upgrade their skills. "He had an intense pride about the college." Corrections Department workers huddle outside the administration building Wednesday morning. Statesman-Journal photo by Gerry Lewln Friends (I V Mi ml - ":wf'flliA: fik W Hi A i ' ' A A$V mi v i " ; M Y 4 ,.;f.v.,.l i i; mi 'ffr, j- m i. Iff.-.ii-iikiiJ L- U 111 r. it n. : . 5m9m Is ai! k1 ml. Statesman-Journal file photo Michael Francke wasn't afraid to walk the corridors of the state prisons, talking to inmates. jlling may force ecurity changes Colleagues remember say job came first By Cathy Beckham and Theresa Novak Of the Statesman-Journal Michael Francke's friends and neighbors knew him as a man who was married to a job that kept him at work 18 hours a day. He liked it that way. "He was so busy that I used to have to mow his lawn when he lived in former Gov. Vic Atiyeh's home," Chuck Sides of Salem, a friend and former legislator, said. "I didn't want his wife to have to do it, and it had to be done so the neighbors wouldn't run him out." Those neighbors said they all had the same reaction Wednesday to news of Francke's stabbing death: shock. Sue Honan, who lived two doors from the Franckes' former residence, said she was awakened early Wednesday by a friend, calling to tell her the news. "I was just shocked," Honan said. "They were really good neighbors." Beverly Samuel, the office manager at the Community Counseling Center across the street from the house, said Francke had a kind word and greeting for the state workers whose offices were located in the 700 block of Winter Street NE. The family lived in the old governor's mansion there until moving to Scotts Mills in November so that Francke's wife, Bingta, would have a place for her horses. When Francke did take time from his job as chief of the state Corrections Department, he enjoyed skiing, canoeing, basketball, river rafting, shadow boxing, picnicking and going to movies. Scott McAlister, a former assistant attorney general who now works in Utah, said, "One of the ways he relaxed and got things together for himself was to dirt bike ride." McAlister and Francke were teammates on a loosely knit criminal justice softball team. One of the things that he enjoyed about Francke was his great sense of humor, McAlister said: "He was very open with people. You never had to worry about where Michael Francke was coming from or what he was thinking." Francke was born in Kansas City, Mo., and moved to Prairie Village, Kan., a suburb. He attended St. Ann's Catholic Elementary School and Rockhurst High School, a Jesuit preparatory school in Kansas City. He won a football scholarship to New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M. He graduated in 1968 with bachelor of arts degrees in FrenchGerman and economicspolitical science. He attend ed the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating in 1971. Francke spent four years on active duty with the Navy as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He was assigned to Los Angeles . From there, Francke moved to New Mexico to begin work in the attorney general's office before eventually becoming head of the New Mexico corrections department. Survivors include his three children: Mario, 20, a student at the University of Texas at Austin; Joel, 16; and Trey, 1; his parents, Helen and H. Edward Francke, Kansas City; two brothers, Kevin, of Charlotte, Fla., and Patrick, of Lenexa, Kan.; and a sister, Ann, of Prairie Village, Kan. Reporter Janet Oavies also contributed to this story. By Janet Davies Of the Statesman-Journal Although death threats are common to leaders in the corrections field, Michael Francke was among the majority of those in the West who did not feel compelled to routinely carry a firearm. . Some of them said Wednesday that they may rethink their policies if Francke's slaying is determined to be related to his job. "That would cause people to go back and examine the kind of security that they employ in their individual states to see if it might be improved," Pete Demosthenes, the acting director for prisons in Nevada, said. Utah already has a clear policy, as former Oregon official Scott McAlister discovered when he arrived for work there last week. "This director carries a gun, as does his deputy and shortly will I," McAlister said. He is the new inspector general for the Utah Department of Corrections. McAlister said he never knew Francke to carry a gun as Oregon's corrections director, although former legislator Chuck Sides said Francke once showed him a gun that he kept in the glove compartment of his car. Registration records indicated, however, that Francke did not have a concealed weapon permit in Marion County. As an assistant attorney general, McAlister worked on Corrections Department cases in Oregon. In Utah, he discovered, undergoing training at the police academy is a job requirement. Three plots to kill leading officials there have been uncovered since major changes in Utah's corrections system began 3'2 years ago with the arrival of director Gary DeLand, a former deputy sheriff in Salt Lake County. "They uncovered a plan to use potassium cyanide to kill some people and one to buy some illicitly manufactured bombs to disrupt my day," DeLand said. When he became the director, the corrections system was run loosely, he said. Predatory groups of inmates freely roamed through the prison. The drug business inside the walls was rampant. "We made a far more controlled and secure operation," he said. "Violence in prison is way down." Although DeLand has suffered the backlash, both he and McAlister said they doubted that Francke would have been exceptionally unpopular with inmates. "He was moving about 180 degrees from the direction we were going here," DeLand said. "He was taking a system that was fairly snug and controlled and loosening it up." McAlister said that although he and Francke were good friends, their philosophies about corrections differed. McAlister was opposed to relaxing restrictions or allowing more privileges to inmates. Chase Riveland, the secretary of the Department of Corrections for Washington, said he admired Francke's recognition of the factors that often get set aside in corrections. "He was a person who had strong human values and wanted very much to articulate that in his management of a correctional system," he said. Christine May, a spokeswoman for the California corrections system, said threats against the director there are infrequent. More often, they are made to institution superintendents. "All of the department officials are peace officers and are entitled to carry a weapon," she said. "Whether they do is up to them." Demosthenes said Nevada officials may carry guns if warranted but generally keep them in a firearms locker in the administration office. Tim McNeese, the executive assistant to the director in Idaho, said firearms are issued to officials, but few carry them unless the situation warrants. "I keep mine at home in a safe," he said. Utah's DeLand called Francke's death frightening, especially if he was targeted by someone. "You recognize that even if you carry a gun ... or take a lot of steps to protect yourself, a determined assassin has got a good chance of being successful," he said. "We've lost somebody who had very special skills and knowledge." State Rep. Kevin Man-nix, D-Salem, who first met Michael Francke last fall while campaigning for a seat in the Legislature. "He was a unique individual in that position be- , cause he saw it in a broader sense. For the first time, you had a director who was willing to articulate the need for education and mental health programs" in prisons. State Sen. Joyce Cohen, D-Lake Oswego, the chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "He was a dynamic force in criminal justice in Oregon. It's going to be difficult to replace his expertise." District Attorney Dale Penn of Marion County, who served on various panels with Francke and who now leads the investigation into his death. "He dealt with stress very well. It didn't cause him to buckle. He was someone who loved a hard task." Cory Streisinger, Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's legal counsel. "I considered him one of the most intelligent corrections administrators I had ever met." Stevie Remington, the director of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The last memorial he would want is a prison with his name on it. A school, maybe, but not a prison." State Rep. Mike Burton, D-Portland. was Hospital sN 6V BluejayDrive Statesman-Journal map by B. Nichols Prisons Continued from Page 1 A. add 900 prison beds. Francke served on a governor's task force that plotted those and other prison proposals. He also served on the Oregon Criminal Justice Council, which has presented the Legislature with a proposal for overhauling the rules for sentencing convicts. Rep. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he feared that Francke's death would slow the Legislature's consideration of many crime-fighting proposals. "He was hand-holding all of us," Courtney said. "He was the king. And now he's gone." Salem, home to the Oregon State Penitentiary, the Oregon State Correctional Institution, the state women's prison and other centers, traditionally has a special interest in state corrections policy. Sen. Cub Houck, R-Salem, the Senate minority leader, had met with Francke Tuesday to discuss his push for mandatory limits on the number of state prisoners in the Salem area. Although Francke had not agreed to support the mandatory limits, Houck said, he was sensitive to local officials' concern about the Salem prison population: "What Salem lost in this unfortunate thing is that Mike Francke was a member of the community. He did things in this community, and he understood it." Rep. Tom Mason, D-Portland, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, predicted that Francke's death would give legislators a new determination to push ahead with crime legislation. "It's incredibly ironic that someone who is so involved in the criminal justice system would become a victim," he said. When Francke took over Ore gon's prison system in May 1987, he took on two enormous responsibilities. On the one hand, he was faced with the daily management of prisons designed for about 2,800 prisoners but forced to accommodate as many as 5,000. On the other hand, he was asked to keep an eye on the future to preside over prison construction and to guide the forming of new prison policy. Burton, who at Goldschmidt's request interviewed Francke before he was hired, said: "We handed the guy an 800-pound blob of Jell-0 and said, 'Manage this sucker and tell us where to go with it.' " The task proved to be controversial. There were cost overruns on new prison construction. And Francke, who often was frustrated with his inability to predict growth in the prison population, found himself overspending his budget to house, feed and clothe convicts. Those problems prompted him to make repeated requests for extra money from the Legislative Emergency Board, a committee that watches the budget between full sessions of the Legislature. That brought suggestions from influential legislators that the Corrections Department needed close budgetary oversight. Francke said he would welcome that. One of the critics was Sen. Mike Thome, D-Pendleton, a member of the Emergency Board and the influential joint Ways and Means Committee. On Wednesday, Thome said his criticism was not aimed at Francke personally: "I think the guy was doing the best job he possibly could given the tools and resources he had to work with."

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