Green Hill School employee accused of ‘turning a blind eye’ to assault inside the Chehalis facility in January 

Michelle M. Goodman is the second staff member of the Chehalis-based juvenile detention center to be arrested this year


A Green Hill School staff member was arrested Monday for allegedly “turning a blind eye” while two Green Hill inmates attacked another inmate in early January.

The employee, identified as Michelle M. Goodman, 30, of Centralia, faces one count each of prison riot, abuse of office and fourth-degree conspiracy to commit assault.

She was released from the Lewis County Jail on $20,000 unsecured bail on Tuesday, March 12.

Judge J. Andrew Toynbee cited Goodman’s lack of criminal history as a reason for granting her unsecured bail.

“I do acknowledge that these are very serious charges, but because of those factors, unsecured is more appropriate,” Toynbee said Tuesday.

Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, March 21.

Green Hill School reported the assault to the Chehalis Police Department in late February, according to a news release.

Court documents indicate a Chehalis detective met with the victim at Green Hill on or about Feb. 22.

The victim reportedly told the detective he “heard someone say, ‘are you fine with this?’” then “heard Ms. Goodman reply ‘It’s my job.’” The other voice then reportedly said “It’s not going to take long, you are the only staff I trust.” Soon after the victim overheard that conversation, a Green Hill School inmate entered the victim’s room “and began to beat him,” according to court documents.

The victim reported that he is a former gang member and said “that the other inmates found out about his past, (and) he was required to be beat to be re-affiliated,” according to court documents.

Video footage of the incident reportedly shows Goodman socializing with inmates at a table. The victim is seen sitting on a couch before returning to his cell.

As soon as the victim entered his cell, an inmate identified as Jose Cisneros, 19, is seen “tapping the wrist” of a juvenile inmate, who then “immediately walks towards (the victim)’s cell,” according to court documents.

The juvenile inmate “appears to linger outside the room … until the Green Hill employee at the central command station appears distracted by drinking out of a thermos.”

The detective noted the employee at the command station was “significantly further away” from the victim’s room than Goodman was, adding that the juvenile inmate “appeared more cautious about that employee than Ms. Goodman, who was sitting approximately 20 feet away.”

After the juvenile inmate entered the victim’s cell, video shows “several inmates and Ms. Goodman look towards the room as if something can be heard.”

The juvenile inmate then reportedly exits the cell, “walks towards another inmate and appears to have a short and animated conversation with him” a few feet away from Goodman.

Cisneros is then reportedly seen walking to the victim’s cell before returning to the table where Goodman and other inmates are gathered.

“While speaking to the group, Mr. Cisneros appears to hold his fingers up to the right side of his face as if he is indicating an injury location,” according to court documents.

Several minutes later, video reportedly shows Cisneros, who was playing cards with Goodman, “smiling while physically animating throwing a punch with his right fist” before holding “his right hand to his face as if he is simulating an injury.”

The detective who viewed the video noted “Ms. Goodman appears to drop her head and laugh.”

An incident report filed by a different Green Hill School employee indicated that a juvenile inmate had reported the assault during a counseling session. That inmate reportedly “stated Ms. Goodman witnessed the assault and at some point stated ‘Alright, enough,’” and told the counselor “he wanted to leave Green Hill after learning staff members would facilitate assaults.”

When interviewed by a Chehalis detective on March 11, Goodman allegedly “claimed she could not recall the incident,” according to court documents.

Lewis County Jail records indicate Goodman was booked into the jail at 11 a.m. on March 11.

Cisneros and a juvenile inmate, identified only as a 17-year-old male, are facing possible prison riot charges stemming from the incident, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Goodman is the second Green Hill School staff member arrested this year on felony charges related to their alleged behavior at the Chehalis facility.

Aaron D. Snideman, 42, of Centralia, was arrested on Friday, Jan. 19 for allegedly bringing marijuana into the facility earlier that month. He has since pleaded not guilty to a possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility by a non-prisoner charge and is out of custody on $5,000 bail. His case is scheduled to go to trial on April 22.


Mounting cases

Green Hill School began reporting all seized contraband and all assaults involving three or more inmates to the Chehalis Police Department in October, according to Green Hill School Interim Superintendent Jason Aldana.

In a statement to a Chronicle reporter last week, Aldana said he reached out to Centralia Police Chief Stacy Denham and Chehalis Police Chief Randy Kaut shortly after the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET) executed a search warrant at the facility on Aug. 31, 2023.

During the search, officers seized evidence related to the possession and distribution of illegal controlled substances, none of which had been reported to law enforcement.

“I'll tell you what I told Chief Denham when he showed up with a search warrant. If he called me, I would have given him anything he wanted. I didn't need a search warrant," Aldana told a Chronicle reporter last week.

The Centralia Police Department previously stated JNET detectives reached out to Green Hill to try and recover suspected fentanyl connected to an Aug. 17 Child Protective Services complaint, but did not hear back by Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Aldana said he met with Kaut and Chehalis Deputy Chief Matt McKnight in early September to go over a pilot system for reporting assaults and seized contraband to the Chehalis Police Department.

“I’ve worked with the Chehalis Police chief on what they wanted,” Aldana said, adding that Green Hill now has a procedure for disposing of contraband after 30 days if the Chehalis Police Department has indicated they don’t intend to seize it.

“That way it’s not in there for years and years,” Aldana said. 


Calls for an investigation

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, has repeatedly asked Gov. Jay Inslee to open an investigation into the facility. Inslee has thus far declined those requests.

The governor issued a formal response to Braun in a letter late last month.

According to Inslee, security improvements at Green Hill School include increased patrols of its perimeter, preparation for additional exterior cameras, restrictions on visitors’ personal belongings, increased resident programming and modified separation to “quell instances of aggression.” He also said staff are prepared for the installation of new body scanners and have established a new process for reporting incidents to law enforcement.

“It is absolutely true that House Bill 6160 (also referred to as JR to 25) and the fentanyl crisis have impacted conditions at Green Hill,” Inslee wrote. “Should you choose to become more informed and visit Green Hill School to speak with their leaders, they could talk to you about their ongoing collaboration with the Chehalis Police Department and how they have enacted all their suggested reforms to date.”

Passed by the Legislature in 2018, JR to 25 allows those sentenced in adult court for crimes committed under 18 to serve time in juvenile rehabilitation facilities such as Green Hill until they are 25.

A spokesperson for the governor previously said JR to 25 requires a “transformational shift in operations and facilities planning” and that many strategies, including “space for segregating individuals involved in assaults, or staffing and equipment for more extensive surveillance” are not yet available at Green Hill.

“I have a strong interest in ensuring a safe environment for Green Hill School’s youth and employees, and promoting positive rehabilitation outcomes for the youth at all our juvenile rehabilitation facilities,” Inslee wrote. “I cannot imagine anyone whose heart does not break at the news of a young person — whatever their circumstances — grappling with substance use issues or trying to escape a dangerous cycle of violence.”

Green Hill saw at least 12 prison riots — incidents where three or more inmates at a correctional  facility are involved in a physical altercation — in 2023 that have since been charged in Lewis County Superior Court, according to previous Chronicle reporting. Additionally, eight cases stemming from a JNET raid of the facility in August have since been charged in Lewis County Superior Court. At least four contraband-related incidents at Green Hill School that occurred after an Aug. 31 raid of the facility have also had hearings in Lewis County Superior Court. Several overdoses have been reported.