How Will State DOC Handle COVID $$ Shortfalls? Release Prisoners
According to new information released by the Washington State Department of Corrections, one of the ways WA state plans to deal with COVID caused budget shortfalls is to release up to 30% of the state's inmate population.
But here's the kicker. MyNorthwest.com and KTTH Radio's Jason Rantz reports, it could include inmates being released "regardless of their crime" (source KTTH).
The DOC says Gov. Inslee has told them they must cut their budget by 15% or more, and DOC officials said in a strategy document, in part:
“there must be a significant and permanent reduction in prison population.”
Their first proposal, if approved by the Legislature would allow prisoners with approved housing plans, regardless of offense or sentence type, to serve the final 150 days of their sentence in partial confinement or electronic home monitoring.
Rantz says that would include those, for example, serving time for rape or manslaughter. One of the other proposals would involve convicted criminals doing no time at all.
Criminals guilty of property or drug crimes that are considered non-violent or non-sexual could serve no jail time at all. These are both cost-cutting measures the DOC considers reasonable.
According to Rantz, DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair told the Seattle Times "It's kind of exciting," referring to the plans, which DOC says would reduce prison populations by 30 percent.
Will these be voted on soon? Not likely before Election Day, November 3. They could be, as part of the much called for special legislative session Republicans want to see 'NOW' to deal with the COVID ravaged budget. But Inslee has stubbornly refused to call the session, and it's not likely it would happen until after the election, if at all.
Critics, including Rantz, hint that by stalling the session even longer, legislators who approve these DOC ideas would not be held accountable at the ballot box by their constituents.
To read more about these DOC plans, and others that would not add extra time to sentences for criminals who use a weapon or fire arm to commit them, click on the button below.