Second inmate prematurely released from prison now facing murder charge

TUMWATER, Wash. -- The state Department of Corrections scandal just keeps getting worse.

On Thursday DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke said that a Spokane teenager was allegedly shot and killed by a convict who had mistakenly been released from jail early.

The problem started in 2002 when a computer glitch at the DOC improperly padded time for good behavior. The error ended up releasing 3,200 inmates prematurely.

The glitch wasn’t discovered until 2012 and since then at least 2 felons released early are accused of committing murder.

The glitch freed Jeremiah Smith from prison last May. Smith is now facing murder charges for allegedly shooting and killing a Spokane teenager.

Robert Jackson also should have been behind bars in November but he also was released too soon. Now Jackson is accused of driving drunk and crashing his girlfriend’s car and killing her.

“This is incredibly frustrating since the department discovered the error 3 years ago and consciously decided not to fix it 16 times,” said former state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

McKenna said it was his assistant attorney general who first tried to address the problem back in 2012, but he said she never informed him.

“We would have jumped on it and pressed the DOC to fix the problem immediately,” he said.

Emails dated from 2012 released by the DOC show the assistant attorney general believed the agency didn’t have enough staff to hand-calculate releases -- and instead chose to wait to see if the software could be repaired.

But also, as if foreshadowing, the assistant attorney general admitted the state could be sued if an inmate were released too soon and then went on to commit more crimes.

“I think the news will get worse as they uncover move inmates who were released too early and committed some bad act when they were out when they weren’t supposed to be,” McKenna said.

Secretary of the DOC, Dan Pacholke, said his office has so far only reviewed inmates released in 2015 which means more bad news could be revealed as more than a decade of inmate releases still have to be reviewed.

“I’m very concerned about what we will uncover as we move forward,” said Pacholke during a telephone press conference. “There’s likely to be more crime that has been committed during that window.”

Both Smith and Jackson have been arrested but police are still looking for a third felon, Daniel Morris, who has gone missing; A nation-wide arrest warrant has been issued for him.