Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced as many as 950 prisoners in the state's correctional system will be released, to avoid what officials say are COVID related exposure and issues in the prison system; mainly due to inability to practice 'social distancing.'

Inslee issued a news brief  that read in part:

"As the COVID-19 outbreak continues in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today steps to protect the health of incarcerated individuals by focusing on the early release of vulnerable populations, including nonviolent individuals who are due to be released within the coming weeks and months. 

“This will help allow for increased physical distancing throughout the Department of Corrections' system, reducing the population by up to 950 people to continue to reduce the risks to incarcerated individuals while balancing public safety concerns,“ Inslee said.

According to information in the Inslee release, this is what led to these moves, at least in part:

"In March, several incarcerated individuals filed lawsuits against the DOC, which included requests for the release of almost 12,000 of the individuals currently incarcerated in the state prison system. On Friday, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order directing the governor and DOC to “immediately exercise their authority to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety" of inmates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Based on the court order, DOC will immediately begin to implement the strategies identified in the state's response to the court filed today. The plan will focus on individuals incarcerated for nonviolent and drug- or alcohol-related offenses, as well as people held on lower-level supervision violations. 

Some incarcerated individuals will be released through commutation, others will be released into a modified graduated reentry program. "

The Department of Corrections has also released information Monday, about how these plans will be implemented. To see that information click on the button below.

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