Prison Workers, Victims Protest WA Inmate Release Plan


Proposed cuts to the Washington state corrections budget could see hundreds of felons released into the community too early, corrections officers and victim advocates argued yesterday, reports Seattle Both legislative houses and Gov. Chris Gregoire have suggested significant cuts to the department budget in an effort to close a nearly $9 billion shortfall in state revenue. Included are substantial reductions in funding to prisoner reentry programs, including drug and alcohol abuse treatment and work placement.

Contending that one proposal to close a prison and make other cuts could release up to 1,900 inmates, prison employees union leader Tracey Thompson said too little has been done to research the impact such a move would have on public safety. Crime victim advocate Jenny Wieland said victims “are told (their assailant) is going to serve this amount of time, and if there’s any good-time deduction, they’re advised of that. Now, all of a sudden, you’re getting a letter that this offender is getting out early, and you have no input into that.” A new law allows 90-day housing vouchers to inmates who are scheduled for release but cannot find a place to live. Under existing law, offenders who are due to be released on so-called “good time” — a 10 to 50 percent sentence reduction granted to inmates who behave in prison — can’t be freed until they establish a residence.

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