Lewis Co. Prosecutor skeptical of Gov. Inslee's prisoner early release plan for COVID

950 state prison inmates are now scheduled to be released earlier than planned by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to reduce the chance of COVID-19 spread inside twelve state prisons. KVI's John Carlson interviews Lewis County Prosecutor, John Meyer, about the logistics of the early release and the possible impact on public safety. (photo: KOMO News)

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced he intends to release 950 state prison inmates earlier than there sentence ordered. The Governor justified his early prisoner release plan as an effort to prevent COVID-19 spread inside prisons. The 950 prisoners are classified as non-violent offenders but Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney, Jonathan Meyer, says the public may feel differently about what constitutes a violent crime in Washington.

KVI host John Carlson interviewed Meyer about how the state classifies crimes.

"When you look at non-violent (criminal violations) obviously you have a legal standard that we look at and then you have what the public would perceive as non-violent and those are two completely different things", Meyer told KVI.

Lewis County's top law enforcement official said, "So if you look at the list of non-violent offenses you have a bunch of assaults on there including assaults of a child, repeat domestic violence offenders. We thank our first responders and health care workers but about 90%, if not higher, of the Assault III (3) felony offenses that come out of my office are against first responders or health care workers."

"Even vehicular homicide is considered a non-violent offense", Meyer continued.

Many sex crimes are classified as non-violent, according to Meyer. "We have some sex cases as well--like you know sexual misconduct, sexual exploitation, child molestations--there's even some rapes that are in there that are considered non-violent offenses. Now if you ask the average lay person out there in the public, 'is that a non-violent offense?' The word 'rape' (the public) says 'no'. There's some type of violence in there or its at least something that should be taken very seriously but the law has defined it as a non-violent offense."

To hear John Carlson's complete interview with Prosecutor Meyer, click on the image above.

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