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Two People Now Known To Have Died Because Of Wash. Prison's Software Glitch

File photo: Washington Corrections Center for Women
KUOW Photo/Kevin P. Casey
File photo

  A second tragedy is now linked to a Washington state prison inmate who was released before his sentence was completed due to a software error. The Department of Corrections said a 17-year-old boy was killed during a robbery in Spokane last May.

The inmate, Jeremiah Smith, was re-arrested in June and charged with first-degree murder. The murder occurred within two weeks of Smith's early release.

Washington Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke told reporters today the department may find more victims as it searches back through the records.

“I’m very concerned about what we will uncover as we move forward and there's likely to be more crime that has been committed during that window,” Pacholke said. “I can't really speculate on the numbers, but it concerns me deeply about just the tragedy that is being produced based on early release.”  

Washington’s former attorney general Rob McKenna is distancing himself from the prisoner-release scandal.

McKenna said he was not told three years ago when his office first learned that a software glitch had allowed thousands of inmates to leave prison early. He added that then-governor Christine Gregoire’s office also did not know. “None of us was informed by the Department of Corrections, or in my case, by the line attorney who was advising them.”

Documents released this week say that attorney had told the DOC not to take action and instead to wait for the software to be fixed. But it wasn't fixed – and no one stopped the early prison releases.

“If the attorney had elevated the issue to her supervisors and to senior staff and to me, we would have reached the opposite conclusion,” McKenna said.

An investigation is underway to uncover why a computer glitch resulted in the early release of prison inmates.

Earlier this week, officials said a Bellevue woman had died in car crash where the driver, her boyfriend, should have been in prison.

Last week, state officials announced that thousands of offenders had been wrongly released early since 2002 because of a software error that miscalculated release dates.

So far, more than two dozen offenders who need to serve additional time are back in custody, and the agency continues to review additional releases.