OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The latest developments on the mistaken early release of prisoners in Washington state because of an error by the Department of Corrections (all times local).
Gov. Jay Inslee’s general counsel, Nicholas Brown, says the shortest early release time for offenders affected by a Department of Corrections computer glitch was a couple of days, while the longest was about 600 days.
Brown says most cases were 100 days or less, and the prisoner who potentially could have been released 600 days early was still incarcerated.
Brown says while as many as 3,200 offenders were released early, another 3,100 who are still incarcerated had inaccurate release dates.
Based on a prior Supreme Court ruling, most of the affected offenders won’t have to go back to prison. Officials so far have identified seven prisoners who need to serve additional time because of the mistake. Of that number, five have already been re-incarcerated.
The Department of Corrections was first alerted to the error in December 2012, when a victim’s family learned of a prisoner’s imminent release. The family did its own calculations and found he was being credited with too much “good time” credits.
A timeline provided by the governor’s office shows the agency consulted with attorneys regarding the error the same month and scheduled a fix for the program. However, the coding fix was repeatedly delayed, and the governor says he didn’t learn of the issue until last week, when corrections’ officials notified his staff.
State Sen. Mike Padden says the Legislature will hold hearings on the mistaken early release of more than 3,000 prisoners as soon as it convenes in early January.
Padden, a Republican from Spokane Valley, is chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, which has jurisdiction over the prison system.
Padden says he believes some 160,000 days of prison time were not served during the administrations of former Gov. Chris Gregoire and Gov. Jay Inslee, and wonders why the early releases continued after the error was discovered in 2012.
Padden says he wants to learn if any of the prisoners who were released too soon because of a computer glitch committed new crimes. He noted that one prisoner was released 600 days early.
Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered state corrections officials to stop some prison releases until a hand calculation is done to ensure the offender is being released on the correct date.
On Tuesday authorities revealed that more than 3,000 offenders had been mistakenly released early since 2002 because of a computer glitch. A broad fix to the software problem is expected to be in place by early January. The halt on prison releases would be for offenders potentially affected by the computer error.
Inslee says two retired federal prosecutors will conduct an independent investigation to figure out why it took so long to discover and fix the problem.
More than 3,000 prisoners in Washington have been mistakenly released early since 2002 because of an error by the state’s Department of Corrections.
At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said he had ordered immediate steps to correct the long-standing problem.
Authorities say a July 2002 state Supreme Court ruling required the DOC to apply “good time” credits earned in county jail to state prison sentences. However the programming fix ended up giving prisoners with sentencing enhancements too much good time.
An analysis showed that as many as 3,200 offenders were released early. The median number of days for early release was 49. Based on a prior Supreme Court ruling, most of the affected offenders won’t have to go back to prison.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.