Former corrections executive testifies in early release scandal

Former Assistant Corrections Secretary Denise Doty testified before the Senate Law and Justice Committee Monday.

She's the highest ranking person to know about the computer glitch that let more than 3,000 inmates out of prison early.

She resigned from state government after the software problem came to light.

“I knew about the issue. I certainly would also say I was aware of the legal advice that we had received from the attorney general's office,” she said.

That advice not to calculate sentences by hand came from former Assistant Attorney General Ronda Larson, who has also resigned.

There are two people dead in connection with inmates who should have been behind bars.

“The normal practice was for us to hand calculate sentences and get the IT fix in. We wouldn't have even contemplated not hand calculating without that advice,” Doty said.

But that doesn't explain why fixing the problem was delayed 13 times over three years.

Doty points to her former boss, former Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner. She says his focus was on a big project to determine which inmates were at risk for reoffending.

“It was extremely difficult to get decisions from Secretary Warner,” Doty said. “There'd be a time where he could easily get distracted with his cellphone or just start working on his computer,” she added.

Warner now works in Utah, and is so far, not scheduled to testify.

Democrats on the Republican-led committee responded candidly when asked if this Senate investigation is about politics in an election year.

“It has nothing to do with it,” Seattle State Senator David Frockt laughed. “I think there is no question that it's part of the frame that's going on here this session,” he said.

But Republicans point out that today’s testimony contradicts some of the results of the investigation ordered by Governor Inslee. And therefore, it has already been valuable.