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Dugard case lapses prompt parole law review

August 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The failures in the Jaycee Dugard case have been well-documented, especially the failure in parole supervision for the man who kidnapped and kept her hostage. There is a push to change the law to prevent a repeat.

In light of another scathing report on how the Jaycee Dugard case was handled, crime victims' groups are pushing for changes in how prison inmates are evaluated for release.

A 2008 California Supreme Court decision known as the Lawrence case prohibits the state parole board from denying releases based solely on the original crime, so psychiatric evaluations and a risk-assessment test called Static-99 are given a lot more weight.

It's how a Phillip Garrido-type sexual predator could get out despite their horrific crimes.

"Despite what he did to Jaycee, he would be eligible for release based on Static-99 and not being able to take the committing offense into account," said Harriet Salarno, Crime Victims United.

Garrido was also an example of how a lack of communication between federal and state parole agents allowed him to hold Dugard secretly captive for almost two decades.

One judge recommended a law forcing the two to coordinate better to prevent another bungled case.

"Under the respect that the two sovereigns have for one another, a federal parole agent cannot enforce state law. A state parole agent can't enforce federal law," said U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware.

It was all those years when one agency thought the other was keeping an eye on Garrido that he kidnapped and raped Dugard, who eventually gave birth to his two children.

During his parole, he also had his wife, Nancy, lure numerous girls to the back of their van while she videotaped them doing gymnastic poses.

One California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation psychologist says it's difficult to evaluate an inmate when medical records are handwritten, or missing.

"I have to become a detective a lot of times to find out what the prior information is on the inmates," said Dr. Jill Ruffman.

After Wednesday's hearings, state Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) is preparing legislation that would force the California State Parole Board to give previous crimes some weight. Gaines says it would prevent up to 200 dangerous inmates from getting paroled every year.

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