According to the Bureau of Justice, approximately 1 out of 45 people were under community supervision in 2008. It's not unusual for people who are on parole or probation to reoffend. Indeed, if you're injured by someone under state or federal supervision, you could sue the government for the damages and losses you sustained. Once the supervisory period ends, though, usually so does the government's liability. However, there may be a way to hold the state or federal parole agency responsible for the actions of an ex-parolee.
One way you can hold the government responsible for injuries caused by an ex-parolee is to show the parole agency was negligent in some way in regards to the individual's release from custody and supervision. The negligence could be rooted in a clerical error. For instance, the parolee could have been released before his or her time because information regarding the person's sentence was entered incorrectly.
The charge of negligence could also be based on the fact the government agency allowed the ex-parolee to be released when evidence (e.g. psychological evaluations, parole violations) indicated the person should have remained under supervision or even incarcerated.
For instance, the families of four victims of homicide by a parolee sued a prosecuting attorney and a probation officer for negligence. They claim the parolee was not supervised adequately and, as a result, he was allowed at large, which lead to the deaths of their loved ones. Although the judge ultimately ruled against the plaintiffs, the prosecuting attorney did admit she made a mistake recommending the parolee be placed in a diversion program instead of being sent back to jail.
While the criminal in this case was still a parolee, it's this type of error that could open the door to proving the government's liability for releasing dangerous people into the general population whom it knew or should have known would put others at risk.
Elements of Negligence
To successfully win your lawsuit based on negligence, there are five elements you must show:
- The defendant had a duty to you
- Due to the defendant's actions or non-action, the person failed in that duty
- That failure caused you to be injured
- You sustained losses as a result
- The defendant's failure is the approximate cause of your losses
Possibly the most challenging aspect of proving negligence is showing the government had a duty to you. As mentioned previously, the government's duty in regards to parolees typically ceases when the individuals' parole sentences ends. It's essential that you discuss your case with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can provide guidance on the best way to proceed so you can obtain the outcome you want.
For a personal injury lawyer, contact an attorney such as Smith & O'Hare PS Inc.