A senator is introducing legislation for reform after a scathing report of the parole system following the sentencing of Phillip Garrido for kidnapping an 11-year-old while out on parole.
Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson and other county prosecutors announced Senate Bill 391 on Wednesday, which would make changes to the parole system.
After a 2008 court decision, parole boards put more weight on an inmate's behavoir in prison than they do on the nature of the crime they committed. Senate Bill 391 will put more weight on the inmate’s offense when the parole board considers early release.
"There have been a tripling of paroles granted as the result of the Lawrence decision," said Gaines about the court ruling. "Let's keep our worst criminals behind bars and keep our community safe," he said.
Earlier this month, District Attorney Pierson issued a report pointing out what he considered to be the top five mistakes in the kidnapping, assault and 18-year captivity of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 from her street in South Lake Tahoe by Garrido and his wife Nancy.
In backing the Gaine's bill, Pierson said the current system could allow another dangerous sexual predator to be released from a life sentence. "We can actually prevent it in not releasing someone who's a known quantity," said Pierson.
Gaine's wants to get his bill to the governor's desk this year, even though the legislature adjourns in just three and half weeks. There is also the liberal Assembly Public Safety Committee to deal with, widely regarded as a graveyard for law enforcement backed bills.
But Gaines is already preparing amendments to bill should there be opposition, and there appears to be bi-partisan support for the bill. It's co-author is El Dorado Hills Assembly member Alyson Huber who is a Democrat.
"This is not a partisan issue, this is about the safety of our communities," said Huber.
It would also be difficult to vote against a measure designed to prevent another Jaycee Lee Dugard from being victimized.
Dugard was held captive in their Antioch home for 18 years and repeatedly raped. Garrido fathered two daughters as a result of the rapes.
Garrido was released early from prison after being convicted of a brutal rape and kidnapping because of the results of psychiatric evaluations; in Pierson’s report, he claims Garrido manipulated psychiatrists and the system to use the evaluations to his benefit. Garrido served just 11 years of his 50-year federal sentence.
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