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Washington prison officials have said a computer programming error led to the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates over 13 years. Documents obtained by public radio reveal that a decade ago sentencing calculation errors plagued a major IT upgrade.

Veterans serving time behind bars are still entitled to some — but not all — of the benefits earned through military service. Wednesday, we told you the story of the struggle one former inmate faced trying to inform the Department of Veterans Affairs about his incarceration. Today, we look at a one-of-a kind inmate-run program trying to help other incarcerated veterans work and communicate with the VA to get their benefits.

The Washington Department of Corrections has finished re-calculating the sentences of 1,500 inmates who were potentially released early since 2011. Of those, more than 100 must return to prison to finish their sentences.

Working in a prison is a dangerous job. Inmates outnumber officers and fights are common. Fourteen-year veteran correctional officer Patrick McPherson said over the course of his career he’s been assaulted four or five times.

The political showdown over the accidental release of more than 3,000 Washington inmates continues. Senate Republicans moved quickly Tuesday to approve two subpoenas seeking records from the governor’s office and the Department of Corrections.

The Record: Tuesday, Jan. 19, Full Show

Jan 19, 2016
microphone
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Today on The Record: The Catholic Church of Seattle has released the names of clergy and church workers accused of sexually abusing young people. We'll get reaction from someone who says as a child, she was abused by her priest. Also, should Seattle let people who have no other home park their RVs along the street? And what's wrong with you saying "the" Puget Sound?

Listen to the full show above, or check out the individual stories:

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Svg0qt

Bill Radke talks with KUOW Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about the latest in the investigation just launched by Gov. Jay Inslee into how the state mistakenly released thousands of prisoners early for more than a decade. Some Republican state lawmakers say that's not enough: They want subpoena power. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is defending his investigation of the accidental early release of more than 3,000 prison inmates. The Democrat responded Thursday after Republican state senators announced they plan to use their subpoena power to conduct their own inquiry.

For the third time in less than a year, a Washington state employee has been accused of having sex with a juvenile offender. The most recent arrest happened this week at a state juvenile lock-up in Chehalis.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee used his State of the State speech to pledge accountability when government fails. The Democrat’s comments Tuesday follow the early release of more than 3,000 prison inmates because of a computer coding error.

It’s a new year, but the saga continues. The state of Washington has missed a deadline to provide competency services to jail inmates within seven days. And in some cases wait times are getting worse not better.

Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke faced questions from state lawmakers Monday as the 2016 legislative session convened. The head of Washington’s prison system called the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates the “largest single error” in his agency’s history.

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Eastern Washington.
Flickr Photo/BLM Ore. and Wash. (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/xLKoJJ

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. 

A Washington prison inmate who was accidentally released early and then locked back up has been granted a rare medical furlough. Bobby Davis said his re-release from prison this week came as a welcome surprise.

File photo: Washington Corrections Center for Women
KUOW Photo/Kevin P. Casey

  A second tragedy is now linked to a Washington state prison inmate who was released before his sentence was completed due to a software error. The Department of Corrections said a 17-year-old boy was killed during a robbery in Spokane last May.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Department of Corrections learned in 2012 that the software it was using to calculate prisoners' time off for good behavior was letting some prisoners out too soon. A possible fix to that computer error was delayed 16 separate times, Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke said Tuesday.

A man who was released from a Washington prison early by mistake is charged with killing a mother of two when he should have still been locked up.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Washington corrections officials say they've identified 27 former prison inmates who were released too soon and need to be re-arrested.

The state of Washington is rounding up former prison inmates who were accidentally released early because of a computer glitch.

As many as 3,200 Washington inmates were released early because of a computer glitch that went unfixed for 13 years.

As Washington’s prison population swells, there are renewed calls for a state prisons ombudsman. Legislation to create the position was filed Wednesday in advance of the January legislative session.

Josephine Howell of Seattle band Radio Raheem .
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Josephine Howell used to find it too painful to talk to her eldest son.

Charles is in prison on the East Coast, serving to two life sentences for second-degree murder. He was convicted at the age of 17 and has been locked up since 1999.

Howell fronts Seattle band Radio Raheem. They’ve written a new song about her son called, “Dear Charles.”

Howell told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel that the song is a way that she attempts to express depths of her feeling in grappling with Charles’ situation.

Prison bars file photo.
Flickr Photo/Neil Conway (CC BY2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6NUT6x

Many youth become homeless when they get out of detention centers and their parents refuse or fail to pick them up.

That’s the finding of a new report that calls for reforms to the way Washington state handles young offenders.

When I first met Shaun Tullar, he was locked up in the Vista Detention Facility in San Diego County, Calif.

He was being held in what the jail calls the vets pod — a ring of cells for veterans to live together like a military unit. We met in a room that felt like a school classroom, but with military flags on the walls, and guards at the door.

The number of military veterans in the country's jails and prisons continues to drop, a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows.

It's the first government report that includes significant numbers of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the findings defy stereotypes that returning war veterans are prone to crime.

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

At least once a week, federal defender Deirdre von Dornum travels across Brooklyn to meet with her incarcerated clients. The round trip takes three hours, on a good day.

First von Dornum rides the subway. Then she walks half a mile to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a pair of nondescript high-rise buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront. At this point, she still has to wait — sometimes for hours — for guards to bring her client down from his cell.

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West. Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

The vast steppe-like landscape near Ephrata, Washington, stretches almost as far as you can see. Most of the sagebrush is pretty healthy, if not too dense. But this 240-acre patch of public land was burned last year.

Prison jail bars
Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (CC BY NC 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1MLz2Y5

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. But that’s a relatively recent development. Over the last three decades rates of incarceration in the U.S. have increased five-fold.

Currently there are about 2.2 million U.S. citizens behind bars. Race and class are major factors in who goes to prison. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 young black men will spend time behind bars. The projected rate for young white men is 1 in 22.

Washington’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island is home to 252 sex offenders. These are men -- and one woman -- who’ve completed their prison sentences but are deemed too dangerous to release.

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