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 Post-Intelligencer.com. 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.