On Monday, Governor Jay Inslee and Department of Corrections Secretary Steven Sinclair announced that they would release almost 1000 inmates amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This unprecedented move is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable inmates within the prison population.
The announcement comes after a lawsuit was filed to release inmates who have serious medical conditions, are over 50, or are within 18 months of release. The lawsuit alleges that the Governor and Corrections Secretary are violating the state constitution by failing to act swiftly to protect the health of inmates. On Friday, the State Supreme Court issued an emergency ruling directing officials to report on all the steps being taken to protect inmates from the virus and to outline their emergency plan.
The criteria for inmates to be released are: nonviolent prisoners set to be released within 75 days, nonviolent and vulnerable offenders scheduled for release in eight months, nonviolent prisoners incarcerated for low-level probation violations, and nonviolent offenders who are on work release. Some prisoners will be freed through the commutation process, while others will be released through a graduated reentry program.