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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee Defends Early Release Investigation As Senators Vow To Subpoena Records

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is defending his investigation of the accidental early release of more than 3,000 prison inmates. The Democrat responded Thursday after Republican state senators announced they plan to use their subpoena power to conduct their own inquiry.

Not since the 1980s has the Washington Legislature exerted its subpoena power. Now, Senate Law and Justice Chairman Mike Padden said he plans to issue subpoenas to compel testimony and obtain records regarding the early release of 3,200 Washington prison inmates over the past 13 years.

“This is something that’s been thrust upon us and we have an obligation to try to get to the bottom of it,” Padden said.

Governor Inslee has already hired two former federal prosecutors to conduct an external investigation into the matter. Republicans said they’re not satisfied with that inquiry.

Inslee accuses Republicans of “political potshots” and defends the integrity of his investigation.

“I’m not the screenwriter or the director here,” Inslee said. “I’m a citizen and a governor here who wants answers.”

Two deaths have been associated with the early release mix-up.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."