Letter to the editor: In response to our senator’s assessment of Green Hill School problems


This is in response to Sen. John Braun’s commentary about Green Hill School published earlier this year in The Chronicle.

The state of Washington created a correctional institution for wayward boys in Chehalis. The “how, why and if” of Green Hill is still in flux.

In 1967 to 1975, it was the beginning of the drug era when I was employed at Green Hill. My first thought when reading a student’s file was that the parents and judges — yes, judges —bear as much or more responsibility for the young man being where he found himself — Green Hill.

In most cases, the parents were either absent or at best lacking parenting skills. And the judges just handed out one slap on the wrist after another. Some students had been before judges not just two, three or four times, but eight, nine or 10. What kind of correction is that?

I was employed by the Chehalis School District, which offered not only academic classes toward graduation but vocational classes such as print shop, metal shop, small engine repairs, gardens and culinary arts through the kitchen. The culinary classes were offered through the kitchen that not only supplied food for the cottages but also a noon meal for the employees.

The state provided a hospital setting for students. Many years before I was employed, the school raised cattle so students gained farming skills.

You can blame whomever you want — the liberals, the governor — for what is wrong at Green Hill. I happen to believe it is just one aspect of how uncivilized we as a nation are becoming.

Do a quick Google search back in time to learn it wasn’t the liberals or the governor. It was a Republican president who initiated the “1,000 Points of Light” who had the solution to housing mentally ill people.

Indeed, our mental institutions needed attention but rather than providing a concept of how they could be improved everybody bought into this Republican concept: do away with the institutions by having the churches and philanthropic community be the answer.

We soon found out that wasn’t working, so we ended up with homeless people first living under bridges and now in every green space in cities and along freeways across the country. So please stop this constant rhetoric of blaming the liberals for everything.

Make laws that will bring back a more civilized and humane kind of state and country. Start with “no man or woman is above the law.” Plus, money and prestige doesn’t allow a person to circumvent the law. We need to get back to teaching our children right from wrong and that if you do wrong you will be given a second chance. After that, there will be consequences. No exceptions.

This is all relevant to not only the “how and why” but “if” Green Hill will be able to continue to be useful in turning a young man’s life around as a correctional center. Not a prison.


Rose Spogen