Denise Doty, a former state corrections official said to be the highest-ranking administrator to have known about the mistaken early release of prisoners, has stepped down from her job in another state agency.
OLYMPIA — A former state corrections official said to be the highest-ranking administrator to have known about the mistaken early release of prisoners has stepped down from her job in another state agency.
Denise Doty was an assistant secretary of the state Department of Corrections (DOC) in 2012 when the agency discovered a long-running programming error that led to the early release of certain types of offenders.
After the error’s discovery in December of that year, an intended fix was delayed 16 times, for reasons that have yet to be explained.
Doty is the third state official to resign in the wake of the early inmate releases coming to light.
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In 2014, Doty was loaned out from DOC to work with the state Office of Financial Management on a project, and joined that agency full-time as assistant director of data and technology.
Doty resigned from that job effective Tuesday of this week, according to OFM spokesman Ralph Thomas.
In a two-sentence resignation letter, Doty didn’t give a reason for leaving.
Neither Gov. Jay Inslee nor OFM Director David Schumacher asked for Doty’s resignation, Thomas said.
In a January legislative hearing, DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke — who resigned earlier this month — said Doty was the highest-ranking corrections official aware of the sentencing-miscalculation problem.
Doty oversaw the Administrative Services Division at DOC. The division handled, among other things, records and information technology, Pacholke said at that meeting.
Bernie Warner, who as corrections secretary at that time was Doty’s supervisor, said he wasn’t aware of the problem until late 2015.
In an email to The Seattle Times in late January, Doty declined to comment but wrote that she is “cooperating fully with the independent investigation” into the early releases commissioned by Inslee.
The governor retained two former federal prosecutors for the inquiry, and an investigation led by Republican state senators through the Legislature is also under way.
The prosecutors have said they plan to give Inslee’s office their investigation report next week, said Jaime Smith, spokeswoman for the governor.
Inslee, who has called the failure to act on the sentence-calculation error “mind-boggling,” is waiting for that report before taking any accountability actions.
“I think things will move pretty quickly once we get the report,” Smith said.
Inslee and Pacholke have said they learned of the error in mid-December 2015. DOC put in place a software fix for the problem earlier this year.
Doty’s departure marks the continued fallout over the sentence-calculating problem. In addition to Pacholke’s resignation, Ronda Larson of the state Attorney General’s Office stepped down from that agency last week.
After being notified in December 2012 by a crime victim’s family that a prisoner was to be released too early, DOC staff found the wider sentencing problem stretching back to 2002, and linked it to a problem with software programming.
Larson, an assistant attorney general, advised corrections staff in 2012 that it wasn’t worth the agency’s resources to hand-calculate sentences in order to stop offenders from being released early.
Officials have said that in 2015 two people were killed by offenders while they still should have been in prison.
Other prisoners released early and trying to rebuild their lives have been rounded up by DOC to serve the remainder of their sentences.
DOC has estimated that up to 3,700 inmates were potentially impacted by the error since the department wrongly programmed its sentencing software in 2002.
In a review of more than 1,500 cases of inmates released since December 2011, DOC found sentence miscalculations in 76 percent.
If that pattern holds to all cases dating back to 2002 — which the agency said it plans to review — DOC estimates that 2,800 offenders could ultimately have been released early.
On Monday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee is scheduled to hold its next hearing into the error.
An attorney hired to help with that investigation said last week that some DOC staff may have known there were issues surrounding the calculation of prison sentences before the agency was notified in December 2012 of the problem.