Code glitch causes tens of thousands of prisoners to be released early

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DoC) may have released around 41,000 prisoners before their time was up due to a computer glitch!

Software used to calculate time credits that would release prisoners for good behavior was found to have a glitch in it.  It is believed that it caused the DoC to release 3,200 prisoners per year since 2002 that were not due to be released yet.  It is believed that the prisoners were released an average of 49 days earlier than their correct release date.

The state changed the software in 2002, which was supposed to allow prisoners to build credits for good behavior while they were incarcerated in state prisons and county jails.  However, it was discovered that the code was faulty.

The fault was actually pointed out back in 2012 when a victim’s family, which was apparently paying better attention than the actual prison system, alerted the DoC that the prisoner who had assaulted the victim was going to be released way too early.  The DoC filed a “time sensitive” request, and supposedly the department came up with a fix, but it was repeatedly delayed.

“This problem was allowed to continue for 13 years is deeply disappointing to me, totally unacceptable and, frankly, maddening,” Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. “I have a lot of questions about how and why this happened, and I understand that members of the public will have those same queries.”

A new IT manager started at the DoC in November, and has promised to patch the bug by January 7th, 2016.  Until that time, prisoners will have their times double checked manually before release.

All prisoners who were released early are being contacted and required to either return to prison or to work release to finish the rest of the time on their sentences.


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