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Report on DOC Early Release Scandal Finds State Employees to Blame

Updated on: 11/19/2019

Governor Jay Inslee released the results of a nearly two-month investigation of the Department of Corrections Early Release Scandal today. Since 2002, investigators believe that the state may have released as many as 3,200 prisoners too early due to an error in the way that their sentences were calculated in an internal computer system. 

The report found that while the Department of Corrections’ failure to correctly calculate offender release dates was not the result of malice or intentional deception, multiple state employees failed to take actions that could have prevented prisoners from being released early. Assistant Attorney General Ronda Larson told DOC employees in December of 2012 that it was all right to calculate a particular offender’s release date by hand and to delay implementing a system-wide fix. The report also found that DOC employees were aware of previous release dates and had been hand-calculating release dates.

Senior Records Manager Wendy Stigall did make managers aware of the problem and did submit a change request to the IT department, but today’s report found that she did “little to nothing” in the subsequent three years to ensure that the problem was corrected. The report also found that Denise Doty, Assistant Secretary to the Administrative Services Division; Kathy Gastreich, Risk Management/Safety Director; Doug Hoffer, Chief Information Technology Officer; Clela Steelhammer, Manager, Legislative and Policy Coordination; David Dunnington, IT Business Manager; Sue Schuler, IT Business Analyst; and the DOC’s IT group failed to act quickly to resolve the problem when they became aware of it. The report found that neither DOC secretary Dan Pacholke nor his predecessor Bernie Warner were made aware of the issue prior to mid-December 2015. Governor Jay Inslee and members of his staff were also only made aware of the issue in mid-December 2015. 

At least two deaths were caused by felons who were free during the time period that they should have been in prison. Lindsay Hill was killed on November 11, 2015 by a felon who was released from prison four months too early. 17-year-old Ceasar Medina was shot to death on May 26, 2015 by another violent felon who should still have been behind bars. Caesar’s mother has hired Davis Law Group to represent her in her son’s wrongful death case. As Attorney Chris Davis told KING5 News in January, “No amount of money can bring back Caesar.  But sometimes it takes the civil justice system to hold the government accountable and make sure that something like this never happens again.”

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