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King County review ordered after 3 accidental inmate releases in 3 months

(KIRO 7)

The King County Executive has appointed an outside investigator to review inmate release policies after three inmates were mistakenly released from the King County Correctional Facility in just three months.

KIRO 7 has been reporting about overworked staff and ongoing problems there, where they’ve been forced to work overtime and sometimes double, 16-hour shifts likely contributed to at least one of the inmates being mistakenly released. Multiple jail employees told KIRO 7 the jail is “severely understaffed.”

RELATED: Search underway for inmate mistakenly released from King County Jail

King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the investigation of jail policy at facilities in Seattle and Kent after a double shooting suspect was mistakenly released last week after being in jail since February. The inmate was back in custody on Monday.

A burglary suspect walked out of jail in August, and another residential burglary suspect was also mistakenly released last month.

Corrections officers told KIRO 7 mandatory overtime has lowered morale and complaints have been lodged with the King County Council about the staffing issues.

Numerous jail officer jobs remain unfilled

Mandatory overtime at the jail was the focus of a March 13 meeting of the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee, where administrative staff from the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention explained why there are dozens of jail officer jobs open and funded — but not filled.

“At the end of the day, it’s a difficult market out there and we’re competing with other organizations,” said Chief of Administration Steve Larson.

Administrative staff explained that there were dozens of jail officer jobs open and funded — but not filled.

“It’s a hard job, you have to really want to do it,” said Program Manager Jennifer Albright.

Larson and other jail administrators said that competition for jail officers comes from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Seattle Police Department and even Amazon.

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