December 18, 2020
Oregon Department of Corrections Director Colette Peters received the award.

COURTESY PHOTO: STATE OF OREGON - Oregon Department of Corrections Director Colette Peters

Oregon Department of Corrections Director Colette Peters has been honored with the Michael Francke Career Achievement Award from the Correctional Leaders Association.

The association is dedicated to promoting, supporting and advancing the profession of corrections. Its members and associates lead more than 400,000 correctional professionals and 8 million inmates, probationers and parolees. The association presented the award to Peters during an online meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17.

The award is named after the late director of the Oregon corrections department who was murdered outside his office in Salem on Jan. 17, 1989. It was created to recognize an associate who has given outstanding service to their agency or agencies in honor and memory of Francke.

Peters has served as department director since February 2012. She has ultimate oversight of an agency with 4,700 employees. a biennial budget of $2 billion, and responsibility for managing 14,700 incarcerated adults in 14 prisons across the state.

Peters said she was honored to receive the award, noting that before he was killed, Francke set the department "on the path to becoming the progressive agency it is today." She also said that she thinks of the murder every day, and that his untimely death is "a reminder of the dangers that those of us in corrections and public safety face every day."

Controversy has long swirled around Francke's death. A small-time Salem drug dealer named Frank Gable was convicted of killing him during a botched car robbery and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in June 1991. Francke's brothers Patrick and Kevin, several journalists, and many others have long doubted that Gable was guilty, however. A number of them believe Francke was killed for investigating corruption within his department. 

On April 18, 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta ruled that Gable did not receive a fair trial and must be retried or released within 90 days. Among other things, he noted that many trial witnesses have since recanted and that their testimony was obtained through coercive interrogation tactics and abusive polygraph examinations. Gable was released from prison on June 28, 2019. The Oregon Department of Justice is appealing the ruling.

Patrick Francke participated in the meeting and praised Peters as being especially worthy of the award, saying she was doing an excellent job running the department by all accounts. He also thanked her for naming a remodeled conference room in the department's headquarters building after Michael and having inmates design and build a memorial to him with a bench at its entrance.

"My family and friends have sat and prayed there often over the years. There have been several Budweisers tipped there over time," Patrick said.

Previous Portland Tribune stories about the Francke murder and Gable case can be found at