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Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Hampshire Superior Court which identified management deficiencies including inadequate security of evidence materials and improper administration of probation fees.
Today’s audit details that the Clerk’s office failed to follow best practices by not maintaining a centralized evidence log to identify the location and description of evidence in its care and control. The audit also found deficient physical security of evidence materials such as cash, weapons, and controlled substances, with most items stored during business hours in a cabinet in an unlocked room.
Auditor Bump’s review also found that the court’s Probation office improperly waived some probationers’ monthly supervision fee in exchange for the performance of community service. In addition, when probationers performed community service in lieu of payment, probation officers lacked a consistent method of tracking the amounts of service performed. As a result, probationers may not be complying with the terms of their sentence and the Commonwealth may not be receiving fees to which it is entitled.
“Reliance on past practice, poor oversight, and a lack of communication have contributed to the deficiencies we found. A consistent adherence to state laws and procedures is necessary for an equal administration of justice,” said Auditor Bump. “I hope the court will find this audit a useful tool in improving its operations.”
Other findings in today’s audit included inadequate protections over physical assets, irregular bank account reconciliations, and more than $34,000 in undistributed victim restitution.
Auditor Bump has called on the Court to amend its processes for handling evidence, and to bring all accounting procedures into compliance. The Court responded positively to most findings.
The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance assessments of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.
The Hampshire Superior Court audit is available here.