State lawmakers grill D.O.C. on early prisoner release

State lawmakers grilled Department of Corrections staff Monday about the early release of thousands of prisoners. While a computer glitch caused the problem, senators wanted to know why nothing was done about it for three years.

"What have you done in the last 30 days?" demanded Sen. Mark Miloscia, co-chair of the Senate Accountability and Reform Committee. "What review have you taken? What process have you looked at?"

"I don't think there is a performance system in place that is going to catch a mistake in a computer algorithm," answered D.O.C. Secretary Dan Pacholke.

Senators not only hammered D.O.C. over the computer error that led to the early release of 3200 prisoners over 13 years, but over the department's failure to fix it when they first knew about it in 2012.

Co-chair Senator Mike Padden even referred to a D.O.C. audit that appears to refer to the problem.

"It says 'corrective action complete," said Padden. "This is February 10th, 2014. Do you have an explanation for that?"

"It wasn't the same issue," answered Palchoke. "I really can't speak to it with any greater detail than that."

Since the problem was first detected three years ago, two deaths have been connected prisoners who were released too early, Jeremiah Smith and Robert Jackson.

Last month, when it was finally brought to Governor Inslee's attention, he hired two investigators figure out how it was allowed to go on for so long.

State senators believe that investigation needs to be more transparent.

"Unless senior leadership gets it, and puts in a quality and audit system that actually saves people's lives, this will happen again," said Miloscia. "Right now they're in denial."

As the issue becomes more and more political, lawmakers say they want to put measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

credit: King 5 News

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