Anyone with access to a television or internet has heard the saga of Jaycee Dugard, the 29-year-old woman who was abducted at age 11 outside her Lake Tahoe, Calif., home.
She has since been held captive by her alleged abductor at his home in Antioch, Calif. Phillip and Nancy Garrido are charged with Dugard’s kidnapping and rape.
The entire scenario is like something out of a movie. But for some reason, I find one particular detail more troubling than the rest.
Phillip Garrido was convicted in 1976 of kidnapping and raping another woman. But here is the kicker: He was released from prison after serving less than 11 years of a 50-year sentence. That’s about 20 percent of his original sentence! He was labeled a sex offender and put on lifetime parole.
Why was he released from prison so early?
A Sept. 5 Los Angeles Times story said Garrido was paroled by the federal government after talking to the U.S. Parole Commission for about a half-hour. The story said the federal prosecutor did not attend the hearing, nor did Garrido’s attorney.
The examiners may not have seen psychiatric reports on Garrido, Cranston Mitchell, vice chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission, told the LA Times. They may also have failed to review the transcripts of the case, which would have shown that Garrido admitted to exposing himself to young girls and masturbating outside schools.
In deciding to parole Garrido, the story says the examiners considered his prison experience. Garrido earned his high school diploma while incarcerated and learned carpentry and drafting behind bars. They also apparently took into account his age when he was first imprisoned.
Federal parole was abolished in 1987, but the termination did not affect inmates already serving sentences, the LA Times reported. It also said that under today’s laws, Garrido would have probably served 20 to 40 years of his sentence.
There were so many mistakes in this case — from Garrido’s early release from prison to the missed opportunities by law enforcement to be suspicious of the set-up they saw in Garrido’s back yard.
According to County Attorney Melissa Dugan, prisoners convicted in the state of Kansas are required to serve 80 percent of their sentence.
Had Phillip Garrido served 80 percent of his sentence, he would still be incarcerated, Dugard would have grown up with her family like any normal little girl, and the other crimes police suspect Garrido of committing would never have occurred.
The whole situation is so sad and could have been avoided.
— Melissa Smith
Assistant Managing Editor