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Software glitch let 3,200 US prison inmates out early

Washington State's Department of Corrections incorrectly-programmed systems shortened sentences.

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Washington's Department of Corrections has been forced to admit that around three percent of the prison population has been released early since 2002. The issue, which was admitted yesterday by Governor Jay Inslee, surrounds a software glitch that's been incorrectly calculating the duration of inmates sentences. According to the Seattle Times, a Supreme Court ruling mandated that good time credits should be used to reduce prison terms. When the DoC's computer systems were amended to take that into consideration, however, there was an inaccurate calculation of how long a good time credit was. Unfortunately, it wasn't until 2012 when the family of a victim raised the issue of a prisoner's release, that the department became aware.

Administrators believe that the error was responsible for upwards of 3,200 inmates being released ahead of time. In addition, a further 3,100 who were on course for early release have had their sentences corrected before they could get out. According to Nicholas Brown, Inslee's general counsel, there shouldn't be much for local Washingtonians to get concerned about. The errors mostly knocked 100 days or so off sentences, and, so far, it doesn't look as if anyone too dangerous was released too early. Still, it's not going to be a fun couple of months for whoever committed the software error in the first place -- a formal investigation headed by two former federal prosecutors kicks off in the near future.

[Image Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]

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