A Washington state prison inmate was accidentally held three-and-a-half years beyond his release date. The error was discovered last month. This follows the mistaken early release of nearly 3,000 Washington inmates over a 13-year period.
Todd Gilbertson went to prison in 1992 for attempted murder and assault. While in prison he committed another assault and an arson that got him five more years behind bars.
Because of a 2012 court ruling, Gilbertson was supposed to serve those sentences concurrently. But the Washington Department of Corrections never made that change in his sentence calculation.
As a result, his real release date in December 2013 came and went. The mistake wasn’t discovered until last month when the Department reviewed his sentence in preparation for his delayed release.
But this doesn’t mean Gilbertson walks free. Instead he’s been transferred to federal prison to serve out the remainder of a previous sentence there. He will, however, get credit against that sentence for the extra time he spent in state prison.
The Washington Department of Corrections said Gilbertson was part of a group of 362 inmates who were “missed” in 2012 when the agency reviewed sentences for hundreds of inmates affected by a Washington Court of Appeals ruling. That ruling dealt with whether inmates serve subsequent felony convictions consecutively or concurrently.
The group of inmates that was missed had been convicted of felonies committed while they were incarcerated, according to a Department of Corrections spokesman.
In a letter to Gilbertson’s wife, the Department of Corrections said it has now reviewed the sentences of all 362 inmates who were missed and found only one other sentencing error. In that case, the inmate is not yet eligible for release.
It costs $48,000 a year to incarcerate someone at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where Gilbertson was held.
In December 2015, Governor Jay Inslee announced that over a 13-year period Washington’s prison system had released nearly 3,000 inmates early because of a computer coding error that affected how some sentences were calculated. The problem was first discovered in 2012, but not fixed.