Inslee releases investigative report on DOC sentencing errors

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OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today released an investigative report regarding sentencing miscalculations at the state Department of Corrections.

Inslee hired two former federal prosecutors in December to conduct an independent investigation into why there were repeated delays in fixing the sentencing miscalculations when they were discovered in 2012 and to ensure accountability for the errors. The errors date back to 2002.

“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.”

The investigators detailed several recommendations, all of which are already underway or will be implemented by the Department of Corrections.

Recommendations include:

  • Restructuring DOC’s IT governance process;
  • Requiring manual calculations whenever a sentencing-related fix must be made in DOC’s computer system;
  • Creation of an ombudsman to empower DOC employees to bring crucial issues to the attention of the agency leadership; and
  • Better policies to alert leadership of system-wide errors that affect sentencing, release or supervision of offenders.

The Attorney General’s Office is conducting its own review.

Inslee issued a directive last month to all state agencies requiring improved oversight of mission-critical IT systems.

Inslee pointed out that several key personnel have resigned since the investigation was launched, including the assistant secretary who oversaw the DOC division responsible for the programming work and an assistant attorney general. Bernie Warner, who was the DOC Secretary in 2012, resigned before the governor’s office became aware of the error. Inslee said responsibility for the errors started with Warner.

Inslee said additional personnel actions are underway.

“Lax leadership cannot be an excuse for individual bad judgment. We are carefully reviewing this investigation, speaking to the employees involved, and initiating various personnel actions that we believe are appropriate,” Inslee said. “We expected to have those finalized today but we want to make sure employees have every opportunity to tell their story and we will finalize our decisions as soon as possible."

Media Contacts

Jaime Smith
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office