- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday the appointment of an acting secretary to the state Department of Corrections, as well as a resignation, two demotions and two reprimands of state employees related to the erroneous early release of prisoners over a 13-year period.

The announcement of the personnel actions comes following an investigation conducted by two former federal prosecutors hired by Inslee to look into why a software coding error that affected sentencing calculations for about 3,000 prisoners went unnoticed at the agency for a decade and then went unfixed for an additional three years. At least two deaths have been tied to the early releases.

“There were multiple people who did not do their jobs at this department,” Inslee said at a news conference. “It is abundantly clear that there were several people at the department who had knowledge that people were being released, did not function as they should have to fix this problem, had the capability of fulfilling their responsibilities to fix this problem, and failed.

Inslee announced that DOC’s former chief information officer has resigned from his position at the state’s central IT services agency. Two people were demoted: the Department of Correction’s risk manager, and the agency’s former business manager. DOC’s IT business analyst and senior records manager were both issued letters of reprimand.

An assistant secretary who oversaw the DOC division responsible for the programming work had already resigned before the release of the investigators’ report.

Inslee on Monday said that Dick Morgan will take over for Dan Pacholke - who announced his resignation last month - effective March 14. Morgan, who worked at DOC for more than 30 years, started his career as a corrections officer and retired in 2010 as director of prisons.

A software fix to the coding error was implemented in January.

Republican Sens. Mike Padden and Steve O’Ban, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, released a joint statement criticizing the governor’s decision “to punish a handful of mid-level managers.”

The committee has been holding its own investigation into the error, which is expected to extend beyond the end of the legislative session that is scheduled to end later this week.

“Accountability isn’t just for the low person on the totem pole, nor does it stop with the one in the middle,” the senators wrote. “You can be sure we’ll be asking the big-picture questions as the Senate’s independent investigation continues.”

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