Saturday, December 26, 2015


Officials are hunting for 27 missing prisoners who need to be arrested and at least three of them have already gone onto commit further crimes

By Hannah Parry

Daily Mail
December 24, 2015

Three prisoners who were released early after a computer glitch went into commit more crimes while they should still have been in jail, authorities say.

More than 3,000 Washington inmates have been mistakenly released early since 2002 because of an error by the state's Department of Corrections.

Corrections officials are currently hunting for 27 missing prisoners who need to be arrested and returned to jail after the department miscalculated their sentences. At least three of them have already gone onto commit further crimes.

Corrections Department Secretary Dan Pacholke said corrections officials are working to identify and return prisoners who need to serve out their terms.

'We're casting a wide net and doing extensive reviews of each case,' he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee said this week that he ordered immediate steps to correct the longstanding computer glitch that has led to as many as 3,200 offenders getting an early release.

'Frankly, it is maddening,' Inslee said on Tuesday.

Five prisoners have already been re-incarcerated.

Authorities say the error occurred after a July 2002 state Supreme Court ruling which required the Corrections Department to apply good-behavior credits earned in county jail to state prison sentences.

But the programming fix ended up giving prisoners with sentencing enhancements too much so-called good time credit.

An analysis showed as many as 3,200 offenders were released early, and another 3,100 who are still incarcerated had inaccurate release dates.

Inslee's general counsel, Nicholas Brown, said most of the errors were 100 days or less.

In some cases, inmates were released just a few days early, but at least one person who is still incarcerated had a release date that was off by almost two years.

Offenders were released an average of 55 days before they were supposed to be freed.

Based on a prior Supreme Court ruling, most of the affected offenders won't have to go back to prison but officials have identified at least seven prisoners who were freed and hadn't reached their corrected release date yet, and they will need to return to prison.

Department of Corrections was first alerted to the error in December 2012, when a victim's family learned of a prisoner's imminent release and realized he was coming out too early.

The agency consulted with attorneys regarding the error the same month but the coding fix was repeatedly put off.

'For reasons we still don't yet fully understand, that fix never happened,' Brown said. Pacholke, who took over as head of the agency in October and just learned of the error last week, also said he couldn't yet explain what happened.

'How that did not rise up in the agency to the highest levels is not clear to me,' he said.

Sentencing enhancements include additional time given for certain crimes, like those using firearms or those committed near schools.

Under state law, prisoners who get extra time for sentencing enhancements cannot have that time reduced for good behavior.

The Corrections Department and governor's office have not released the names of those inmates who have been sent back to prison, or the name of the family who alerted the agency to the problem.

Inslee told corrections officials to stop releasing prisoners affected by the glitch until a hand calculation is done to ensure the offender is being released on the correct date.

A broad fix to the software problem is expected to be in place by early January.

The governor said two retired federal prosecutors will conduct an independent investigation to figure out why it has taken so long to correct the problem.

'I have a lot of questions about how and why this happened, and I understand that members of the public will have those same questions,' Inslee said.

Pacholke said he welcomed the external investigation.

'The agency should be held accountable for this breach,' he said.

Republican state Sen. Mike Padden said the Law and Justice Committee he chairs will convene hearings on the early releases when the Legislature returns to the Capitol in early January.

'We will see what we can find out about this and whether any of these individuals have committed crimes and what crimes they committed when they should have been in prison,' Padden said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A computer glitch that hasn’t been fixed in a dozen years? Sumbitch! Some heads need to roll here, starting with Corrections Department Secretary Dan Pacholke.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really think this glitch wasn't found for over a decade? Bullshit!

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