Aug 16, 2016

SWAP blows off, gives no response regarding Rick Littlefield; Probation Chief Officer provides detailed information

Chief Probation Officer Bill Damiano (in the middle). Photo I took at the Adult Drug Court Ceremony.

I called SWAP yesterday and left a message. Today, I emailed Humboldt County Correctional Facility's Lt. Luna getting no response from SWAP again. I also emailed Probation Officer William Damiano. I asked this question:

What happens now? He did not show up for his commit date to jail on 8/13.
I left a message for SWAP. Since it is a condition of his probation, who follows up?
As of yesterday, he was not in custody. Since public access computers are down, I cannot check anything.

It's bad enough probation was recommended for a man with 5 duis, the last one committed while he was on probation, according to the probation report. Mr. Damiano?"

Mr. Damiano responded via email. I thank him for his lengthy and informative response.

"Hi John,

I am sorry, but I am not at liberty to release any case-specific compliance/non-compliance information to the media - our case notes are considered part of the court record and cannot be released/inspected without the Court specifically ordering it (Penal Code Section 1203.10).  If Probation files a Petition to Revoke Probation, that information may be included in its body and would be available to you or the public through the Court Clerk’s Office (Penal Code Section 1203.05).  That would be the extent to what I could share on a particular case.

As to SWAP eligibility and/or compliance or non-compliance generally, those are determinations made by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office since they manage all things related to offenders sentenced to serve a jail commitment.  Although one of my officers may recommend a person be considered SWAP-eligible, and the Court may state that a person may be considered for SWAP in relation to an ordered jail commitment, it will be the Sheriff’s Office that makes that determination – not the Court or Probation.  Likewise, neither Probation nor the Court makes the determination whether someone violated their SWAP agreement, or not – the Sheriff’s Office manages the supervision and investigation of offenders enrolled in their SWAP program.

Generally, when someone is on formal felony supervised probation, they are assigned a supervision officer who is responsible for monitoring compliance with orders of the court and/or directives of the Probation office.  If an offender is non-compliant, an investigation is conducted into the facts and, if determined to be founded in fact, the following things are considered:  The severity of the non-compliance (Is it a technical rule or law violation?  Seriousness of the offense?); assessed risk to re-offend using an actuarial tool; evaluation of the likelihood to appear to a court hearing (FTA history and stability within the community); performance history while under supervision; and any other investigative facts that can be verified.  Based on that information, the assigned officer will determine the appropriate course of action to take, with supervisor review.  It could result in anything from a verbal warning + notice to the court (pursuant to PC1203.12) + case plan adjustment with new requirements (increased reporting requirements, drug/alcohol testing, entering detox or treatment, etc.)……… arrest/detention + filing a petition to revoke (Petition to Revoke Probation pursuant to PC1203.2), and anything in between.  As stated above, I cannot comment on, or provide case-specific information or details on, a case under our supervision without the express authority to do so by the Court.

It is a fact that sentencing and incarceration options today are different that they were pre-Realignment – whether for a new offense or for a violation of a any existing probation (or other type of supervision) grant by the Court, or both.  Again, generally, a person on one type of felony supervision who is convicted of violating the conditions of that supervision by committing a new law violation will be sentenced both on the prior offense and the new offense; the hearings and sentences may occur at different times and sentences to jail/prison may be ordered to be served concurrently or consecutively, dependent upon sentencing factors outlined in the Penal Code and Rules of Court.  However, the Court is the ultimate arbiter of justice and can impose whatever legal sentence it sees fit in a particular case based on the facts before it.  If there is more than one matter before the Court for sentencing, they will address each as dictated by law and the facts of each case.  They are not bound in any way to follow Probation Department recommendations if they disagree with them, and they often do impose different sentences.

Sorry I couldn’t specifically address the cases in question, but I hope the general information I provided answered some of your questions."


  1. The question no one seems to be able (or willing) to answer: Why is he getting special treatment?

  2. It appears to me that he had the option to pay his fines rather than have to do SWAP

  3. Where do you draw that conclusion? He was ordered to do 180 days in jail, for which he was SWAP eligible. He also had to pay fines.

    If everyone could just pay fines, no one could to jail for DUIs, especially his fifth one.