WA Prison Release Plan Has Evergreen Gun Owners Alarmed

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the state may release nearly 1,000 "nonviolent offenders" from prison to comply with a state Supreme Court order related to the COVID-19 outbreak. iS
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the state may release nearly 1,000 “nonviolent offenders” from prison to comply with a state Supreme Court order related to the COVID-19 outbreak. iStock-1165446040

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Reports that Washington State plans to release nearly 1,000 “nonviolent offenders” to ostensibly “limit the spread of COVID-19 among the prison population” have Evergreen State gun owners alarmed, amid reports of rising property crimes and because gun shops have been left off the list of so-called “essential” businesses.

According to the Daily Olympian, Gov. Jay Inslee revealed the plan in a written statement. This came in the aftermath of a protest last week by some inmates at the Monroe Reformatory. Critics accuse the governor, a Democrat, of rewarding misbehavior by prisoners.

Using social media, gun owners have been expressing concerns about the release, and what it might mean to their communities.

The newspaper said the Department of Corrections (DOC) plan will “focus on five groups serving sentences for nonviolent crimes.” Among them, prisoners who are due for release within 2 to 6 months, prisoners who are vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, inmates incarcerated for lower-level supervision violations and those on work release.

But State Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane) thinks the idea is nuts. He released a statement explaining why.

Padden, ranking Republican on the Senate Law and Justice Committee, said this: “The people of this state are rightfully alarmed and upset by the Governor’s ill-advised decision to simply release hundreds of inmates who have yet to fulfill their debt to society. This was the most extreme option available to him in order to address the Washington Supreme Court’s order to protect inmates during the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, it increases society’s risk by not only potentially increasing crime, but also increasing the spread of COVID-19.”

This is not a problem unique to Washington. Fox News is reporting, “Thousands of non-violent inmates have been released from jails in Los Angeles County to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the county sheriff said Monday he’s now concerned about a potential future spike in crime.’

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was recently sued in federal court by several gun rights organizations over his effort to shut down gun stores in the county. Prisoner releases have also been reported in Louisiana, New Jersey, and Detroit.

It is not lost on Washington citizens that the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in decisions by several county sheriffs and local police departments to “suspend” accepting applications for new concealed pistol licenses. Renewals are still being processed, but there has been a surge of gun-buying since the pandemic panic first set in more than a month ago, and there is no way to accurately estimate the number of people who would have applied but did not because their applications would not be accepted.

Despite Gov. Inslee’s failure to list gun shops as “essential,” several stores have remained open. The Tri-City Herald recently reported on a couple of those stores in the south-central part of the state, which is traditionally considered “gun country.” The newspaper noted that defiant Washington gun shops cite the Department of Homeland Security’s last month that included gun stores and employees as “essential.”

There is another reason for public concern over this prisoner release. Many people remember a downtown Seattle shooting between three known gang members that left one woman dead and several other people wounded in January. Two of the suspects in that rush hour gun battle were under DOC supervision at the time, having been convicted of prior felonies that disqualified them from possessing firearms.

Down in Utah, a 42-year-old man who was released from a halfway house early over coronavirus concerns was arrested after allegedly breaking into a woman’s home, threatening her with a knife and attempting to rob her. The woman’s son called police, who found the suspect in the woman’s bed, where he allegedly had told his victim to claim he was her lover. Arresting officers took him away.

The ACLU of Washington declared in its own press release, “The Governor’s actions to release a limited number of individuals from Washington state corrections facilities is a useful first step but does not eliminate the danger that individuals incarcerated in Washington state face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the Governor and the Department of Corrections to do more to reduce state prison populations which is the only way to follow the advice of public health experts and keep those living and working in our correctional facilities safe.”

The State Supreme Court “ordered the governor and the state’s Department of Corrections to ‘immediately exercise their authority to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety’ of inmates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to KOMO News, the ABC affiliate in Seattle.

And now Inslee has announced a cooperative effort with the governors of Oregon and California—both Democrats—to start their own process of re-opening their states. May 4 is a tentative date Inslee had set for ending the “stay home” order, and if that holds true, it will have been nearly two months since gun owners could apply for new CPLs. It will be telling to see how much of a jump in CPLs will be recorded in June and July. At last count, there were more than 650,400 active licenses in the Evergreen State.


Are WA Armed Citizens Being Penalized for Seattle Shooting?

About Dave WorkmanDave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

So, the brightest people in charge have reasoned that only the most violent are more worthy of protecting than a law abiding society?

The insane are definitely running the asylum.

Greg K

That’s what I have been thinking


I have no problem with the releases as long as they are sent to Nancy Peloskis’ district.

Wild Bill

@USA, Poor old, foolish Jimmy Carter. He was an idiot than, and has not improved, since.

Wild Bill

@USA, Trump’s employee, AG Barr is threatening the officials of the various states with prosecution in federal court if those officials infringe upon the peoples’ Right to worship. Could that be the signal.
As to all those other allegations, can you prove that stuff or is it all just internet bs?

Wild Bill

@wjd, You know, of course, that Jimmy Carter signed a presidential directive ordering every agency of the US government to have a cooperative program with the Chinese government. Many of these programs are science sharing and financial assistance.
The Chinese have been stealing from us and infiltrating the US ever since.

Wild Bill

Will, All Trump would have to do is a presidential directive withdrawing Jimmy Carter’s presidential directive.


Democrats will do anything to get more vote. Even releasing convicted FELONS to commit more crimes.

Wild Bill

What an odd state of affairs. Citizens arrested for going to church in violation of some governor’s “orders”, while real criminals are released to the street because they might get a virus.

Old Gun

Support the two Tri-Cities gun stores, Columbia Gun Rack and Talos Tactical. They both deserve your business. Another gun store in the Tri-Cities closed and got burglarized because the crooks knew nobody was there to stop them. Jay Inslee also shutdown fishing and hunting due to the corona virus which doesn’t make sense because you can go boating all you want and I go into a supermarket and it’s crowded with people. There is a protest on Saturday the 18th against the fishing ban.

Greg K

Did you get the chance to read the fishing closure from the WDFW site? It literally says they saw a couple of people at the same boat launch so it’s risky. Paraphrased, of course.

Biggest bunch of bull ever perpetrated on the public!


@OG, We need to get rid of both these fools. Our best bet is to elect Chief Culp in November.


The pussification of America continues.

Greg K

The Tri-City Herald recently reported on a couple of those stores in the south-central part of the state, which is traditionally considered “gun country.”

Yep, that’s us!

Greg K

Will do!


How many are begin let go because they may get sick, The jail would have to treat them. Begin let go some one else would have to treat them, but not the jail system so they save money by letting them go.

Wild Bill

@Short, Ah … yes. I see the wisdom of it. Think of the money that we could save by not having jails and prisons at all. Or LEOs. We don’t need them. Let’s save that money, too! Judges and courts are all wasted money if we don’t confine anyone!
I think that you are on to something.
But seriously, I understand and appreciate your explanation. I am up clicking your comment.


Liberals suck donkey.

Greg K

This is why Fergusen and Inslee are trying to get all background checks run through the WA State Patrol. Be advised, there are supposed Conservatives on board with it…It needs to remain at the local level, if not gotten rid of al together, which is where my loyalties lay.


I can only wish that I could renew my permit. Thurston County refuses to process even those.

AP Hill

The right and left do this. they both have sold us into tyranny…
Time of a libertarian or Constitutional party to be elected.

Greg K
Wild Bill

@gk, Hmmm, french kiss or pat on the head and scratch behind the ears. That is a tough one. But seriously, the Chinese professor that put this out is either, A) on the Communist Chinese govern payroll or B) has family back there.

Greg K

Probably both of the above…When the models are done on this, there will be so many initiate vectors, they will have trouble keeping track of it all.

Wild Bill
AP Hill

Meh they ae non-violent. seems like people want to make big deals over nothing…


Looking at this a different way. If all these nonviolent offenders don’t need to be locked up as threats to society – why were they locked up in the first place? I suspect majority of those being released are guilty of drug offenses. Simple possession, use or even providing supplies to willing and knowledgeable adults should not be criminal at all. I say this as someone who has absolutely no desire to partake, not for legal reasons but simply because none of it appeals to me in any way – and am aware of multiple downsides (side-effects, death etc). I… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Another issue with “non-violent” offenders is that many crimes for which they are arrested are either thrown out, for whatever reason, not prosecuted, for whatever reason, or they settle (plead) for lesser charges.

Also, as Will points out, just because they were convicted of a non-violent crime does not mean they are not capable of a violent crime.

Worst yet, the governments have made it clear that they will send others to prison for violating other “non-violent” crimes, while releasing these prisoners. Makes one have to question their logic and their sanity.


@Heed – part of the basis for my argument. Unfortunately regardless of our innocence – too many sheep cannot separate gun and violence, so crimes as simple as having a loose round lost under a car seat while driving into California (even without any firearms in the car) is a VIOLENT crime in their minds. So even though they release “non-violent” offenders, they won’t release us if they catch us not complying with whatever laws they sneak into place (see VA)

Wild Bill

@Finnky, Which Ca statute are you referring to?


Finnky: For someone who claims to be so knowledgeable you sure seem to be so blissfully ignorant about some important subjects. Or, perhaps, it is just an act.


Will: Yes, I forgot to address my comment.

Wild Bill

@wjd, and the violent charges, of their crimes, are often dropped in a plea deal to avoid an expensive trial. So, “nonviolent offender” is really a lie.


Hope you have a good lawyer. You will need one.

Wild Bill

Clark, how disappointing … who are you even addressing?

Greg K

Clark has to be a trustee of modern chemistry.