One of the biggest stories that played out during the year was the revelation that Jay Inslee’s Department of Corrections (DOC) had been letting prisoners out of jail early for years –as the Seattle Times noted, “in 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee and DOC officials announced that for years up to 2,700 Washington offenders had been released early due to a sentence-calculating error. It was a costly mistake: Two people that year were killed by released offenders who should still have been in prison.”
And Shift reported earlier this month that Inslee’s temporary Corrections Secretary assured reporters that the department would continue to let people go early.
Now comes news from the Times that part of the ongoing problem of keeping track of which prisoners should be released is that county officials don’t respond to requests for information on inmates they send the state.
“DOC sends hundreds of such clarification letters to counties across the state every year, asking for guidance on sentences given to offenders entering the prison and community supervision system. The requests often go ignored, DOC officials say, leaving corrections staffers to interpret court sentencing orders that are confusing, illegible — or even incorrect. That could mean holding an offender for too long or releasing one from prison or community supervision too early.”
Perhaps our “green” governor could actually take time out from his push to raise taxes to actually deal with this issue. Of course, since no campaign donor is pressing him on it, it likely isn’t a top priority for him.