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State pays victims of inmate freed by mistake
James Rand, 46, was released on parole to the streets of Concord in March 2012, instead of to the custody of the Merrimack County sheriff to be sentenced on five outstanding convictions for receiving stolen property.
Rand's rampage caused a public furor, prompting then-Gov. John Lynch to ask the attorney general to investigate.
Julia Jones of Concord, who was working at Cumberland Farms in Concord when Rand robbed her at knifepoint, settled for $15,000, and Jennifer Towne of Manchester, who was mugged coming out of Concord's Walmart, settled for $45,000, both of which included attorney fees, according to their lawyer Charles G. Douglas. Douglas and attorney Jason Major represented the women.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Mary Ann Dempsey, chief of the Civil Bureau, said the state weighed a number of factors before agreeing to settle the suit against the Department of Corrections.
The state, like any party being sued, factors in what it would cost to litigate and hire expert witnesses in deciding whether to settle out of court, she said.
"The settlement means that there was no finding of liability, that the parties agreed to resolve the matter," Dempsey said, "It was a good resolution for both sides."
"It was compensatory damage for emotional upset and the physical assault that each of them went through," Douglas said.
"We argued that this was gross negligence and, therefore, it was inevitable that a lifetime convict was going to commit another crime if released without proper supervision and paroled," Douglas said. "He wasn't supposed to be out at all."
Douglas said three other people contacted his office identifying cases in which convicts had been mistakenly released, but they occurred too long ago to include in the suits.
The procedure in place now will make sure the error isn't repeated, Sytek said. "As long as it is observed," she added.
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