The Washington State Department of Corrections (D.O.C.) is fighting to send a violent parolee from Georgia back to his home state after he broke parole and attacked a corrections officer last May.
Johnnie Lee Wiggins, a 6’3, 260 pound 47-year-old competitive bodybuilder–who D.O.C. has flagged as a “high-risk violent offender” due to his extensive criminal history and potential likelihood to commit another violent crime–is effectively in legal limbo in Washington.
Following the assault on the officer, authorities in Georgia refused to issue a warrant and extradite Wiggins back home to complete his prison sentence after he attacked the officer, according to police and Washington D.O.C. officials
Because Georgia has declined to extradite Wiggins that Washington must either pay to incarcerate or supervise Wiggins for his latest crimes–rather than send him back to his home state to complete his prison sentence–while they wait for Georgia to take him back.
The case highlights continued problems with an interstate agreement, which allows felons to move between states while they finish out their parole, which came under heavy scrutiny when a Arkansas parolee shot and killed four Lakewood police officers in November 2009.
Wiggins has been in Washington since 2008 when, after his release from prison for a first degree assault charge in Georgia, he requested a transfer through an interstate compact agreement. The interstate compact agreement allows felons to relocate and finish their parole outside the state where they were convicted. Wiggins was scheduled to be on supervised parole until January 2013.
According to law enforcement sources, Wiggins has prior convictions including theft, assault, and exposing himself in public. Law enforcement records describe Wiggins as “high energy and a smooth operator,” and note that he has had problems with drugs and issues with “sexual deviancy.”
“We supervise him more closely than we would someone with a non-violent history,” says D.O.C. spokesman Chad Lewis.
It appears Wiggins stayed out of trouble with Washington D.O.C. for years, working at a North Seattle gym and living at a nearby studio apartment.
However, earlier this summer, police records say a community supervision officer–what Washington calls parole officers–began having problems with Wiggins.
According to police records, Wiggins was “uncooperative and intimidating” when his parole officer went to visit him in April, slamming the door in his face and telling him he planned to move to avoid having further contact with D.O.C.
Several weeks later, on May 18th, an officer from D.O.C.’s Neighborhood Corrections Initiative and an SPD officer went to Wiggins’ apartment in North Seattle for a follow-up visit.
Parolees are typically required to give D.O.C. officers access to their homes for inspections, but Wiggins refused to let the officers enter his home, and said he would rather be arrested than allow them inside, according to SPD records.
One of the officers tried to handcuff Wiggins, but he physically threw the officer out of the apartment and slammed his front door.
Officers eventually took Wiggins into custody at Taser-point, and had to handcuff him “with two sets of handcuffs due to his size,” the report says.
As an officer was handcuffing Wiggins, he grabbed the officer’s finger and twisted it, injuring the officer, police records say.
When officers searched Wiggins’ studio apartment, they found 12 bottles of steroids—testosterone enanthate, cypionate, and propionate—along with a syringe full of liquid.
Police records say the steroids found in Wiggins’ home were more than three times the felony level of steroid possession.
Washington D.O.C. officials maintain that Wiggins’ parole violations–both for attacking the officer and for felony steroid possession–should have resulted in Georgia authorities extraditing him back to complete his original sentence, as part of the interstate compact agreement through the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS).
But Georgia didn’t issue a warrant for Wiggins’ arrest. Instead, in July, authorities Georgia simply notified Wiggins that he should return back to the state by August 16th and contact his parole officer, according to Washington D.O.C..
“One is a voluntary instruction saying ‘report to your probation officer. It’s not an arrest warrant. It’s un-enforced instruction,’” says Lewis of Washington’s D.O.C.
Wiggins has little incentive to voluntarily return to his home state, where he likely faces more time in prison for violating parole.
Washington D.O.C. has filed a complaint with I.C.A.O.S. in an attempt to resolve the dispute. However, he case remains unresolved and Wiggins remains out of jail and on Washington D.O.C. supervision.
When asked how common it is for D.O.C. to file a complaint with ICAOS, Lewis responded, “It’s unusual. We don’t do it in most cases. We’ll continue to supervise Wiggins as long as he’s here, but we’re working..to enforce the interstate compact rules.”
Last year, Washington D.O.C. successfully pushed for changes to the interstate compact agreement, after an Arkansas parolee, Maurice Clemmons, shot and killed four Lakewood police officers in a coffee shop. The changes to the interstate compact were supposed to make it easier to send violent offenders back to their home states for parole violations.
In an email, the Georgia Department of Corrections referred questions about Wiggins to the state’s parole office, which has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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