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‘I want to find everybody who’s responsible:’ Inslee, GOP spar over DOC investigation

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – A pair of GOP lawmakers worry Gov. Jay Inslee’s investigation into the Department of Corrections scandal could be biased.

A computer glitch caused the early release of thousands of inmates and some of them committed new crimes.

Republican legislators plan to mount their own investigation.

The governor’s office said it was confident that a pair of former federal prosecutors who are heading the investigation would remain unbiased and independent as they look to find why it took three years to fix the software glitch.

But some GOP lawmakers said they also have an obligation to find out what went wrong.

“We’re all trying to get the bottom of what happened,” said Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

Padden and Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, believe they have been kept in the dark.

The two plan to subpoena records connected to the DOC’s sentencing errors that mistakenly released more than 3,200 prisoners too early. Two of those felons are accused of committing murders when they should have been behind bars.

The DOC discovered the computer glitch in 2012, but by then the system had been releasing prisoners early since 2002. A fix for the problem has been delayed 16 times.

O’Ban and Padden worry the investigation won't be independent since the DOC is overseen by Inslee’s office.

“We’ve been left with a lot of unanswered questions about the scope of that investigation,” O’Ban said.

“The governor has said he’s so concerned about it, I think he would welcome this,” Padden said. “Hopefully there’s nothing to hide.”

But Inslee fired back, calling the GOP lawmaker’s threat to subpoena records a political move, and said the two former federal prosecutors have independent control.

“I want to find everybody who’s responsible for this,” Inslee said. “It is clear that it would not be an independent investigation if I had editorial control. I’m not the screenwriter or the director here. I’m a citizen and the governor who wants answers.”

The DOC said the software glitch has been repaired.

Inslee said he hopes the investigation will wrap up in mid February, before the legislative session ends.

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