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Thousands of prisoners in Washington got out early because of a software glitch

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Some will have to return to prison

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has ordered corrections officials to halt some prison releases after announcing today around 3,200 prisoners were released early due to a programming error, according to a report from NBC affiliate King-5 News. The error dates back to 2002, when the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Department of Corrections (DOC) to apply "good time" credit, such as participation in rehabilitation programs, earned in county prisons to state sentences. For more than a decade, the DOC's system has been over-crediting some inmates and releasing them before their sentences were up.

"That this problem was allowed to continue for 13 years is deeply disappointing to me, totally unacceptable and, frankly, maddening," Inslee said today at a press conference. The problem was first discovered in 2012, but a fix was reportedly delayed numerous times, leading the state's new chief information officer to alert DOC officials to the severity of the problem. The state puts the median amount of time a prisoner was released early at 49 days.

A software patch is scheduled to go out on January 7th

As for the previously incarcerated prisoners, authorities will force them to return to prison to finish their sentence or complete it through a work release program. The state plans on working with local law enforcement to determine who will be brought back, and King-5 News reports five inmates have already been returned to prison. A software patch is scheduled to go out on January 7th. Meanwhile, Inslee says the state has hired two retired federal prosecutors to discover out how the problem persisted for so long.