A Douglas County district judge ordered Nevada’s parole and probation chief to appear in court to explain why the division keeps seeking dishonorable discharges for probationers who are allowed to expire their terms before they’ve paid their restitution.
“This is an insult to the court,” Judge Tod Young said. “It is not acceptable. This is disrespectful to the court, to the district attorney and eventually to the defendant.”
Chief Thomas Lawson took the job as chief of the division in November and his signature appears on the filing seeking the discharge.
Defendant Royall Hampton-Palmer, 30, appeared in district court on Tuesday with attorney Matthew Ence after the state Division of Parole and Probation filed paperwork seeking a dishonorable discharge for her.
Hampton-Palmer was ordered in August 2017 to pay back $20,000 she stole from McDonalds in connection with thefts that were discovered in October 2015 after she quit and her drawer was short.
The Reno resident admitted a theft charge and was sentenced to 18-48 months in prison and was given five years probation.
According to the filing, Hampton-Palmer’s probation expired on March 26. Five months later, on Aug. 27, the division filed for the discharge.
Prosecutor Chelsea Mazza filed an opposition saying it didn’t include how much Hampton-Palmer had paid or any other information about whether the division had attempted to collect the money.
Mazza said that according to the order, Hampton-Palmer’s sentence wasn’t set to expire for another year.
Ence said that Hampton-Palmer made a $10,000 restitution payment to the division, bringing the total she owes to $5,348. She said she’d been saving the money. The difference will likely be converted to a civil judgment.
“I thought I had five years to pay,” she told the judge.
Both Young and Judge Tom Gregory have faced instances where people ordered to pay restitution have seen their probation expire before they finished paying.
Young ordered Lawson to appear in district court Oct. 12 with information about why Hampton-Palmer should be released from probation.
“I’m not doing this with the division anymore,” he said.
Young has been threatening for months to hold the division in contempt if they kept sending in requests for dishonorable discharges after those ordered to pay restitution had their terms expire.
The issue is that parole and probation isn’t alerting the county that a probationer’s term is expiring before submitting a request for a dishonorable discharge.
Once a person’s probation expires, state law requires a judge to grant the dishonorable discharge without ever seeing the money.
On Monday, District Judge Tom Gregory issued a warrant for the arrest of a man who was ordered to pay $709.84 in restitution. Aaron P. Candee’s probation expired in March without his paying the money ordered in September 2019. In Candee’s case, he was ordered to appear in court in March or make his payment.
Back in March, Gregory ordered a woman to pay the victim of a severe beating nearly $30,000, even though he pointed out at the time it was unlikely she would be able to finish paying the amount before her probation expired.
That same week, two other probationers had their terms expire before they’d made payments. In one case a woman who stole a Mercedes and abandoned it in Roseville where it was stripped, only paid $500 of the $6,495 she owed. A man who stole a firearm in Kings Lane also was given a dishonorable discharge without completing his restitution payments.
Complicating the issue is that probationers receive good time credit for making minimum payments and complying with the rules. That’s how Hampton-Palmer wound up expiring her probation a year and five months short of the five years ordered by the judge at her sentencing.