Senate panel eyes former DOC head in early release probe

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Senate panel turned its focus to the former head of the Department of Corrections who stepped down last year, just two months before the erroneous early release of thousands of prisoners was made public.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee on Monday asked three former employees at the agency — including current head Dan Pacholke, who is resigning — about the leadership style of Bernie Warner.

Warner, who was appointed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2011, left his job last October to work at a private company in Utah that runs prisons in eight states.

Republican senators on the committee also criticized a recent investigative report by Gov. Jay Inslee into the software coding error that affected sentencing calculations for some prisoners that went unnoticed at the agency for a decade and then went unfixed for an additional three years.

They say the report downplays Warner’s role in the delay.