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PRESS RELEASE: Department of Corrections Responds to Investigative Report on Sentencing Error

February 25, 2016

By Jeremy Barclay

DOC Communications

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) is implementing a number of administrative improvements in response to a report issued today by Governor Inslee’s team of external investigators on the sentencing miscalculation that caused the early release of inmates.

The report, from Seattle-based law firm Yarmuth Wilsdon, addresses “systemic failures of process and management” as central causes for the delay of the coding fix to the agency’s Offender Management Network Information (OMNI) system. Prior to the issue coming to light, DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke identified a need for a more disciplined approach to the administrative operations of the agency. In November 2015, Secretary Pacholke restructured many administrative functions to realign reporting structures and prioritize agency efforts.

“The investigation points out several areas where we have focused improvements to our Administrative and Information Technology (IT) divisions, which are as important to public safety as our inmate management divisions,” said Secretary Pacholke. “As the investigation shows, this was not an intentional or malicious error, and we take the responsibility for improving our administrative functions seriously.”

Pacholke said the agency will begin utilizing a new IT governance process by March 15, through a formal Technology Review Board and increased coordination with the state Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Additionally, DOC has added a project manager to its senior leadership team, to facilitate planning, organizing and consistency system-wide projects. The agency will also streamline processes for reporting system-wide errors to ensure they are immediately directed to the appropriate division’s assistant secretary for action.

“The structure for notifications and moving important issues to the forefront in our administrative divisions weren’t in place with the same rigor as on our operational side,” said Secretary Pacholke. “Every DOC employee has a responsibility to report issues that pose a risk to public safety. And when they do, there should be assurance the agency will act on the event.”

“When Governor Inslee called for the miscalculation issue to be fixed and fixed right, we heeded the Governor’s call, and have fully complied with the Governor’s independent investigators as well as the Senate review,” said Pacholke. “Today’s report doesn’t conclude our work but rather reinforces the work we’ve done so far and our resolve to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”