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September 2, 2009

Garrido case leading to useful reflections and questions about sentencing practices

Often, one high-profile ugly crime by a repeated offender leads to an extreme reaction to an outlier case. This my be part of the story that follows the discovery of the remarkable crimes of the Garrido family, but we should not overlook the appropriate reflections and hard questions being asked in this wake of the discovery of this remarkable crime. Specifically, consider this effective item from Chuck Lane in the Washington Post, which is headlined "How Jaycee Lee Dugard's Tormentor Got Out." It provides a reminder of how different sentencing practices were decades ago when Phillip Garrido was sentenced for his first rape:

Thirty-three years ago, the law specifically provided that no prisoner could serve more than 10 years in the federal system without at least a chance at parole -- regardless of his original sentence. Garrido’s conviction, which came in Feb., 1977, was his first. The judge who sentenced him to 50 years may have been trying to signal parole officials who would later look at his case that this was no ordinary novice offender....

But ten years later, when an examiner from the U.S. Parole Commission arrived to see Garrido at the federal prison in Lompoc, California, those ghastly events were known to him only from the cold paper record. Though Garrido’s parole proceeding is sealed, typically federal parole examiners would spend about an hour interviewing the inmate. They would also look into a prisoner’s adjustment to prison life, as reported by prison officials, his work record, if any, and evidence of new-found responsibility. Perhaps one point in Garrido’s favor was his marriage-by-mail to Nancy Bocanegra, whom he met while she was visiting a relative serving time with Garrido.

Relatedly, given that Garrido was a registered sex offender, folks are also starting to ask hard questions about the efficacy of sex offender registries.  Specifically, consider these new articles from the New York Times and USA Today:

September 2, 2009 at 09:50 AM | Permalink

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You know most of these so called “police/ parole officers” always have a chip on their shoulders, and even when they fail at their jobs they appear arrogant like saying “what are you going to do”, let’s face it, she saved herself, she was not saved by the authorities. Does anyone believe that the authorities were still investigating her disappearance? The car used in her kidnapping was in the backyard, the lazy ass cops didn’t even bother to go through the backyard when the information indicated that kids were living back there, they didn’t check local schools to see if the kids were going to school or even asked to see the kids, no report to child protective services, boy how lazy can you be and still pick up your public service check, not to mention the parole officers who failed to visit and find out where this freak was living and what he was doing. I guess she was taken in 1991, and in 1993 (only two years later) after violating probation he spent for 4 months in federal prison (California have yet to release any details of that violation or explain why he was again released into the community). Nevada officials said they were never notified of Garrido's parole violation, which would have allowed the state to revoke his parole. Had California parole inspected his home in 1993, we would not be here now asking questions, we would be saying our system works, now I am not sure of anything. Because now I wonder how many more of these freaks are in our country doing the same thing under the noses of our so called authorities.

Yes, I agree he should have served all the time for his first offense, but don’t let our authorities off the hook. I can only say if you have a neighbor that fits this profile, call and call again to try to ensure that this does not happen again. Simply amazing.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 2, 2009 12:25:31 PM

You know most of these so called “police/ parole officers” always have a chip on their shoulders, and even when they fail at their jobs they appear arrogant like saying “what are you going to do”, let’s face it, she saved herself, she was not saved by the authorities. Does anyone believe that the authorities were still investigating her disappearance? The car used in her kidnapping was in the backyard, the lazy ass cops didn’t even bother to go through the backyard when the information indicated that kids were living back there, they didn’t check local schools to see if the kids were going to school or even asked to see the kids, no report to child protective services, boy how lazy can you be and still pick up your public service check, not to mention the parole officers who failed to visit and find out where this freak was living and what he was doing. I guess she was taken in 1991, and in 1993 (only two years later) after violating probation he spent for 4 months in federal prison (California have yet to release any details of that violation or explain why he was again released into the community). Nevada officials said they were never notified of Garrido's parole violation, which would have allowed the state to revoke his parole. Had California parole inspected his home in 1993, we would not be here now asking questions, we would be saying our system works, now I am not sure of anything. Because now I wonder how many more of these freaks are in our country doing the same thing under the noses of our so called authorities.

Yes, I agree he should have served all the time for his first offense, but don’t let our authorities off the hook. I can only say if you have a neighbor that fits this profile, call and call again to try to ensure that this does not happen again. Simply amazing.

Posted by: Paul | Sep 2, 2009 12:26:02 PM

Under the old parole system, a judge had the ability to provide input into the parole decision by completing a form AO 235. If the Court believed the offender should serve more than the ten years required before parole eligibility, he could/should have communicated that fact. Those recommendations are given great weight by the parole board.

Posted by: mjs | Sep 2, 2009 3:06:53 PM

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