The Monroe Correctional Complex. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Monroe Correctional Complex. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Up to 950 inmates may be let out early amid COVID-19 concern

After a protest at the Monroe prison, the state says it will take steps to thin populations immediately.

OLYMPIA — Hundreds of inmates will be released early from prison in the coming days as the state complies with a Supreme Court order to better protect prisoners from a COVID-19 outbreak inside Washington correctional facilities.

Under a plan submitted to the state’s highest court Monday, the focus will be on individuals incarcerated for nonviolent and drug- or alcohol-related offenses whose release dates are within six to eight months, as well as people held on lower-level supervision violations.

“This will help allow for increased physical distancing throughout the Department of Corrections system, reducing the population by up to 950 people to continue to reduce the risks to incarcerated individuals while balancing public safety concerns,“ Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.

The early release plan comes days after inmates staged a protest at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where seven incarcerated people have tested positive for the potentially deadly coronavirus.

On Friday, in response to an emergency request from inmates, the Supreme Court directed the state to immediately “take all necessary steps” to protect the health and safety of prisoners. Justices required Inslee and Secretary of Corrections Steve Sinclair to submit an emergency action plan no later than noon Monday.

The state owes the court another update Friday. Oral arguments regarding the inmates’ original petition, filed last month, are scheduled to be heard April 23.

Attorneys for the inmates asked the court last week to compel the department to immediately test anyone who has been in custody the past 14 days; to ensure robust screening, isolation and quarantine procedures; and to begin releasing inmates who are vulnerable or close to their release dates.

Three Supreme Court justices on Friday expressed their willingness to release the five inmates who petitioned the court, citing the extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, which had infected at least 10,411 people across the state as of Sunday and killing 508.

Corrections officials reported that as of Monday, eight prisoners had tested positive for coronavirus, seven of whom are incarcerated in Monroe. At least 14 employees statewide have contracted the virus, including five in Monroe.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

New dashboard shows how far along King County is to meeting Phase II metrics

The county has met more than half its goals, but the ones it hasn’t met are critical in determining how many people are still being infected, and how quickly people are being tested.

As sales tax plummets in King County, mental health and drug program funding dries up

County will need to make severe cuts to MIDD program this year.

Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with maintenance workers David Partridge, left, and Zach Hopper in March 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
State allows weddings, funerals, religious services to restart with restrictions

Gov. Inslee issues new rules during May 27 news conference.

State loosens cougar hunting restrictions

The regulations will impact 19 areas around the state.

American Medical Response (AMR) organized a parade of first responders to show appreciation for St. Elizabeth Hospital staff April 30. Photo by Ray Miller-Still/Sound Publishing
The complications of counting COVID deaths in Washington

State relies on results of tests and death certificates in calculating the daily toll of the disease.

Republicans file lawsuit over Inslee’s emergency: ‘Facts, and the science, are clear’

Lawsuit says state has violated Constitutional rights of citizens.

A look at construction work. Photo courtesy city of Kenmore
Kenmore shares update on West Sammamish River Bridge construction, Memorial Day

No construction is scheduled for Saturday (May 23) through Monday (May 25).

Most Read