Review targets parole lapses in Dugard case
SACRAMENTO – A month after Jaycee Lee Dugard resurfaced and her alleged captors were arrested in her 1991 abduction, a spokeswoman for California’s inspector general says the office will investigate the state’s parole system “so that nothing like this happens again.”
Phillip Garrido, who has been charged with kidnapping Dugard outside her South Lake Tahoe home when she was 11, was monitored by five or six parole agents during the 10 years he was under California’s control as a convicted rapist, said Laura Hill, spokeswoman for Inspector General David Shaw. He previously was under federal parole supervision for eight years.
Authorities say Garrido hid Dugard the whole time in his backyard, where she stayed in a squalid encampment of tents and sheds at the Antioch home.
“We all are shaking our heads, saying the same thing: ‘How did this happen?”‘ Hill said.
The inspector general is reviewing whether lapses in the state’s parole system allowed the situation to go undetected, Hill said Tuesday, and a report will be completed within 30 days.
“We’re not so much focused about what one parole officer did wrong, but what went wrong,” Hill said. “So if there are changes to be made at the system level, the department knows what they are.”
Dugard was reunited with her family last month. Garrido and his wife, Nancy, who also has been charged, have pleaded not guilty.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo welcomed the external investigation, but said the department is conducting its own review.
“We’re always going to look to see if there’s any problems, even if we believe we’re 100 percent right,” Hidalgo said. “It would not be prudent of us not to follow up and make sure all of the processes were followed.”
Hidalgo said it appears parole agents made the proper visits to Garrido’s home for years without discovering the victim and her children, who were allegedly fathered by Garrido, were hidden behind a second backyard fence. He credited Garrido’s current parole agent with uncovering Dugard’s identity after Garrido’s behavior with his two daughters caught the attention of University of California, Berkeley campus police.
“We’re looking at what the agent did very well, and what the agent did very well was he arrested this guy,” Hidalgo said. “He followed up on his instincts. He attacked quite aggressively once his suspicions were aroused.”
The department has denied public records requests by The Associated Press and other media for Garrido’s full parole file, citing government codes and regulations and confidential information within the file.
Hidalgo said the department plans to release more parole information, however, in cooperation with prosecutors.
“We’re balancing the criminal prosecution … with what the public appetite is for this to be shared,” he said.
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