Two Dead After Computer ‘Glitch’ Releases of THOUSANDS of Violent Felons
An ongoing computer “glitch” first discovered and brought to the attention of prison officials three years ago has resulted in the early release of over 3,000 inmates convicted of violent felonies who were mistakenly credited with time off for good behavior that was not earned.
Officials of Washington State admitted that the Department of Corrections was unaware of the software problems until the issue was identified three years ago when it was brought to the attention by a victim’s family when they were notified, as required by state law, that the perpetrator was going to be released.
Nick Brown, speaking as counsel for Governor Gov. Jay Inslee, said at a press conference, “The family did its own calculation, determined that the offender was getting out earlier than the court had ordered, and contacted the department to ask why this was happening.”
A review of the state’s computer system revealed that the error had been in place for more than 12 years, which would account for approximately 3 percent of the inmates released since 2002.
“That this problem was allowed to continue to exist for 13 years is deeply disappointing, it is totally unacceptable, and frankly, it is maddening,” said Governor Inslee, adding that release dates will be calculated by department personnel until the software problem is either corrected or a new system is installed.
Brown also admitted that, “based on the law of averages, as many as ten percent of all inmates who are released from prison commit some new offense in the first year of their release.”
In fact, Dan Pacholke, Secretary of the state’s Department of Corrections, confirmed that one inmate who benefitted from the erroneously computed “good time” and was released early, has been charged with vehicular homicide, and another is facing charges of first-degree murder.
“There’s likely to be more crime that has been committed during that window, but I can’t really speculate on the numbers,” he said. “But it concerns me deeply ... the tragedy that is being produced based on early release.”
Inmates released in error going back to 2002, and have not been convicted of any crimes since will have that time credited as “good time” on their original sentences and most likely, not be returned to prison.
However, 31 inmates who were released more recently may have to return to prison, as they have not been out long enough to have accumulated sufficient “good time” to offset their sentences.