It's believed that over 3200 Washington state prisoners were released from their sentences early because of a bug which miscalculated time credits for their good behaviour. CNN reports that the bug was introduced into computer systems in 2002, when an updated version of court rulings about good behaviour credits were introduced. Apparently three per cent of all releases made since then were given too much credit for their good behaviour.
Of those released prematurely, the median number of days of extra freedom granted clocked in at 49. Though the BBC claims that one prisoner had his sentence cut by a frankly amazing 600 days.
Apparently authorities first learned of the bug in 2012. But for reasons that are apparently to be investigated, a solution to the problem was delayed. In a statement, Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington, said:
"These were serious errors with serious implications. When I learned of this, I ordered DOC to fix this, fix it fast, and fix it right... I have a lot of questions about how and why this happened, and I understand that members of the public will have those same questions. I expect the external investigation will bring the transparency and accountability we need to make sure this issue is resolved."
A full fix for the bug is expected to be rolled out by January 7.
For those prisoners released early, it's not all good news. Officials have said that they will be required to fulfil their sentences, though they will also receive good behaviour credit for the days they have spent abiding by the law outside of prison.
Image by Thomas Hawk