The Washington Department of Corrections has announced that it is planning for the transfer of incarcerated individuals back to their communities.
They say the goal in releasing these individuals to the community is to provide more physical distancing within the state’s correctional facilities.
The Department says that while they are implementing strategies to reduce the population in state correctional facilities, it is also considering public safety.
The early releases are for those who are not currently incarcerated for violent or sex offenses and who were already scheduled to be released prior to June 29, 2020.
Governor Inslee issued an emergency commutation on April 15 to allow for the release of some incarcerated individuals.
The commutation is specific to those in custody whose judgment and sentences include only non-violent offenses or drug or alcohol offenses and whose projected release date (PRD) is prior to or on June 29, 2020. It authorizes their transfer from confinement within seven days of the order, or as soon as can be reasonably achieved thereafter.
In addition to the Governor’s commutation, based on Governor’s Proclamation 20-50 Reducing Prison Population, Secretary Sinclair will take additional measures to provide more physical distancing. The Rapid Reentry program allows incarcerated individuals an opportunity to serve an expanded portion of their sentence of confinement in the community on electronic monitoring (up to six months). Individuals are subject to conditions and, if they violate those conditions, could be returned to confinement. Individuals are included who meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines of those at higher risk for health complications related to COVID-19.
By the statutory furlough authority granted to Secretary Sinclair, he will be granting emergency furloughs to those incarcerated individuals in work release settings, as established through careful legal advisement and statutory reviews. Furlough means an authorized leave of absence for an eligible individual, without any requirement that the individual be accompanied by, or be in the custody of, any corrections official while on such leave. Furloughed individuals are subject to their conditions of furlough and, if they violate those conditions, could be returned to confinement.
The steps being taken this week represent the latest work in the agency’s diligent efforts to preserve the health of institutions and all people – staff and incarcerated individuals.
The lists of those being transferred or released are linked at https://doc.wa.gov/news/covid-19.htm