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‘Mind-boggling, gut-wrenching, inexcusable:’ Inslee releases results of DOC investigation

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OLYMPIA – A long line of people made a long line of “serious errors” that eventually led to thousands of prisoners being released early by the state’s Department of Corrections, according to an investigation commissioned by Gov. Jay Inslee.

“This was not because of one simple factor, but rather a series of errors,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday addressing the findings.

Inslee said the state has revamped the Department of Corrections, taking steps that will require hand calculations for sentencing changes, hiring an ombudsman and making sure supervisors are alerted more quickly when there are problems.

Inslee at various times categorized the mistake as “mind-boggling,” “gut-wrenching” and “inexcusable.”

About 3,300 inmates were mistakenly released early after the 2002 programming error. Two of those are charged with killing people when they should have been in prison.

“There were systemic errors over several years that undermined the core mission of DOC, which is to protect the public,” Inslee said. “The series of errors — of omission and commission — combined for tragic results. When mistakes of this kind result in these kinds of consequences, people need to be held accountable. This isn’t just about people, however. This is also about a system that set them up for failure.”

Inslee said the next step will be “personnel decisions,” but repeatedly declined to say who would be affected – or how.

“This failure had tragic consequences,” he said. “I promised accountability, and that’s what brings us here today.”