Corrections officials in Washington say they’re working “seven days a week” to verify prison sentences in the wake of a software-coding error that caused thousands of prisoners to be released too early. An outside investigation has begun, and a software fix should be implemented next week.
For more than a decade, thousands of prisoners in Washington state have been released too early – 51 days early on average.
So far, corrections officials say they’re aware of 19 misdemeanors and eight felonies committed by people who should have still been in jail.
One is Ricardo Ruiz. In 2012 he robbed a store in Yakima and fired at police officers who pursued him. He was arrested, but corrections officials now realize he should never have been out of prison that day.
He’s one of an estimated 3,200 prisoners freed too soon since 2002.
Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said in a fraction of those cases, people will have to return to jail.
Barclay: “One hundred and three offenders have been identified for return to confinement. They owe time on their sentence and an arrest plan has been initiated for all of these offenders. In total, 77 people have been apprehended.”
Those aren’t the final numbers. DOC officials are still reviewing the affected cases.
Corrections secretary Dan Pacholke said when he discovered the problem late last month his first response was to verify what he calls the “staggering” scope of the problem.
The next day Governor Jay Inslee halted any release of prisoners unless their sentences could be calculated by hand.