State reaches settlement with women robbed by wrongfully-paroled inmate
James Rand has a suppression hearing at Merrimack County Superior Court dealing with his April 2012 arrest; Monday, January 7, 2013. (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
The two women robbed by James Rand shortly after he was mistakenly paroled from prison last year have settled their lawsuits against the state for $60,000, their lawyer said.
Julia Jones, the Cumberland Farms clerk Rand held at knife-point in March 2012, will receive $15,000 through the settlement, said attorney Chuck Douglas. Jennifer Towne, the woman Rand attacked in the Walmart parking lot before running away with her purse, will receive the remaining $45,000, Douglas said, adding that her compensation includes medical expenses and wages lost when she was unable to work due to physical and emotional distress.
Rand has been convicted of committing both crimes within the two days after he was wrongfully released from Concord’s state prison – an oversight a review by the state attorney general’s office found was caused mainly by human error. In April Rand was sentenced to serve between 20 and 54 years in prison for both crimes as well as the offenses he was facing sentencing on when he was paroled.
Yesterday Douglas said Jones and Towne found comfort in Rand’s substantial sentence and felt that it was best to take a settlement rather than relive the attacks during a trial.
“Given the passage of time, it was the right time to resolve it,” Douglas said.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Mary Ann Dempsey said her office weighed the cost of continuing litigation when deciding to settle the lawsuits. She stressed that the state is not acknowledging any wrongdoing and said she had filed a motion aimed at dismissing the suits.
In that motion, Dempsey said she argued that the state couldn’t have anticipated Rand’s crimes and that there was no direct connection between Rand’s release and his actions afterward, a requirement of a negligence lawsuit.
Douglas clearly disagreed and said yesterday that it’s important to consider the timing of the robberies, which took place within hours of Rand’s release.
The October 2012 report by the attorney general’s office noted that Rand was released when one employee forgot to check his record for outstanding cases when compiling documents for the parole board and another granted permission to override a warning that came up on the computer right before his release, thinking it was a mistake.
While acknowledging those human errors, the report also placed blame on a lack of written procedures in the office and “strongly” suggested more policies be developed.
A few months after the report was issued, the board’s executive assistant said that had yet to happen.
But yesterday, Andrea Goldberg said the staff has since created office policies for things such as recording hearings, creating parole board packets, handling inmates’ plans to live in other states after their release and managing placements in residential treatment programs.
Goldberg said her office is continuing to work with a consultant – whose contract ends in August – to utilize best practices for the parole board and office staff.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the amount of Jennifer Towne’s settlement. She received $45,000.