Garrido case spurs changes at Calif corrections
February 16, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The state has revamped the way it monitors parolees following the botched supervision of the man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her prisoner for 18 years, the head of California prisons said Tuesday.
Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate testified at a Senate hearing that his department has “greatly improved” supervision of parole agents and field training, and is revamping the parole academy.
He also said the department has changed the way it uses electronic tracking of parolees to have better follow-up after the Office of Inspector General blasted corrections for ineffective GPS-monitoring in the Phillip Garrido case.
Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy, were arrested in August on allegations that they kidnapped and raped Dugard and held her captive in their backyard for 18 years. They have pleaded not guilty.
Garrido was under California’s supervision starting in 1999 for a previous rape conviction in Nevada.
The corrections department was sharply criticized in the Inspector General’s report for missing opportunities to apprehend Garrido earlier.
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The report noted that parole agents neglected to interview Garrido’s neighbors, misclassified Garrido as a low-risk offender and failed to adequately investigate the relationship between Garrido and a young girl seen by an agent during a home visit.
Cate’s testimony Tuesday was an opportunity to update lawmakers on the lessons learned from the Garrido case, and to let them know where things stand on improving the system.
Cate said the department also now requires agents to press for more information from out-of-state agencies when a parolee is transferred to its supervision.
Cate again acknowledged missteps in Garrido’s supervision. Questioned by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier about an agent not following up after seeing a young girl at the house, Cate said, “It is frustrating.”
The agent “got an explanation from a particularly smooth operator and made a judgment mistake,” Cate said. He added there is not one day the agent doesn’t regret that error.
Cate wouldn’t comment on whether any parole agents were being disciplined because of their actions on the Garrido case.