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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."

Another Resignation, Demotions, Reprimands Follow Early Release Of Inmates

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Rennett Stowe
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Flickr - tinyurl.com/hmapbp7

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that another former Washington Department of Corrections official has resigned over the accidental early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates. Four other employees have been disciplined.

This is just the latest fallout after the Department of Corrections failed to fix a sentencing calculation error. The agency’s former chief information officer has resigned from his most recent position with the state’s IT services agency. The Department of Correction’s risk manager and former business manager have been demoted. Letters of reprimand were issued to the agency’s IT business analyst and senior records manager.

Inslee said former Secretary of Corrections Bernie Warner would have lost his job had he not left the agency last fall to take a job with a private company in Utah.

“I’m confident he would have resigned given the nature and depth of these failures,” the governor said.

Warner has told investigators he was not aware of the early release problem.

Last month, Washington’s current Secretary of Corrections Dan Pacholke announced his resignation effective this week. Previously, a former assistant secretary of corrections and an assistant attorney general also resigned.

Inslee also announced Monday that retired prisons director Dick Morgan will take the helm as interim secretary of corrections while a search for a permanent secretary is underway.

Inslee’s personnel actions follow the release of a 52-page report by two former federal prosecutors hired by the governor’s office to investigate the early release mistake.

That report concluded that institutional and individual failures led to the early release problem not being fixed after it was first flagged by a victim’s family in 2012. The computer coding error dates to 2002. The problem was fixed in January after the problem was brought to the attention of the agency’s new chief information officer who then alerted the governor.

Washington Senate Republicans are conducting a separate investigation. They have issued subpoenas and held hearings into the matter.

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."