Less than two weeks after Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire ordered a halt to the early release of felons who violated the state’s version of probation, the corrections department has reinstated the practice, reports the Seattle Times. Deputy Corrections Secretary Mary Leftridge Byrd said conditional releases are acceptable as long as they’re not being done to avoid jail overcrowding.
Under a program in effect for five years, conditional releases are used for felons who have been arrested for violating terms of their release. Felons assigned to the community-corrections division are released before a hearing on the violation – as long as they admit they did it. Conditional releases can be ordered only for inmates whose new offenses are considered minor – such as missing a meeting with their corrections officer. Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said Gregoire has flip-flopped. “They’re heading back to the same policy that appalled citizens throughout the state,” he said.