In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Gov. Jay Inslee has required Washingtonians to make many sacrifices. From wearing masks in public and participating in religious celebrations via streaming to being confined to our homes thanks to social distancing, Washingtonians have generally been willing to do what it takes to make their families and communities safer.
Public safety itself is one sacrifice the people of this state should never be asked to make in the name of fighting COVID-19. Unfortunately, that is exactly the illogical step the governor is taking by having the Department of Corrections release more than 1,100 inmates who have yet to complete their full sentences.
This controversial move came in response to an order by our state Supreme Court for Inslee and Department of Corrections Secretary Steve Sinclair to immediately take “all necessary steps” to protect inmates from the pandemic. However, the court’s opinion in no way ordered the immediate release of any inmates.
The governor’s ill-advised decision to simply release hundreds of inmates was the most extreme option available to him. DOC’s stated mission is to improve public safety, yet securing the early release for offenders is contrary to that goal. Washington’s offender recidivism rate is approximately 33%, so if DOC were to release offenders early, it nearly guarantees that at least one-third of those offenders would not comply with the terms of their release.