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Monday, March 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Key player in prisoners early release resigns state post

Associated Press

OLYMPIA – State officials say the assistant attorney general who advised corrections officials they didn’t need to recalculate prisoners’ sentences after discovering a sentencing software error resigned on Thursday.

Ronda Larson submitted her resignation Thursday, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. Larson will leave the office at the end of February, he said.

The move comes during multiple investigations into the error by Washington state’s Department of Corrections that resulted in wrongly calculated sentences for about 3 percent of the prison population. That led to the early release of more than 3,000 prisoners in the state since 2002.

A state Supreme Court ruling in 2002 required the Corrections Department to apply good-behavior credits earned in county jail to state prison sentences, authorities said. However, the programming fix ended up giving prisoners with sentencing enhancements too much so-called good time credit.

At least two deaths have been tied to the early releases.

When the problem surfaced in 2012, corrections officials sought advice on how to proceed until a fix was ready. Larson wrote in a December 2012 email, “I don’t believe it is necessary, from a risk management perspective, to do hand calculations now of everyone in prison with an enhancement.”

Waiting for the system to be reprogrammed “should be sufficient,” she said.

Corrections officials have said that the software fix was delayed 16 times over the past three years and ultimately never done.

Ferguson has launched an internal investigation of his agency’s involvement in the mistaken release of inmates.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Department of Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke said they learned of the error in December. Pacholke said Saturday he would resign.

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