SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson today launched a joint effort to strengthen California’s public safety protection in light of the circumstances surrounding Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnapping and captivity.
Senator Gaines and District Attorney Pierson are planning an August 3rd public meeting at the State Capitol along with law enforcement leaders and victims’ rights organizations to explore deficiencies in state law and identify potential legislative solutions to prevent these kinds of tragedies from ever occurring again.
“I invite the public and all interested stakeholders to attend our meeting,” said Senator Gaines. “The goal is simple – to learn what changes in policy are needed to further protect citizens from horrific crimes such as this.”
“Jaycee’s kidnapping and her 18 years spent in captivity were beyond reprehensible,” said Gaines. “That’s why I’m working with the El Dorado County District Attorney to examine what went wrong in the Dugard case, identify reforms to the system and introduce legislation to better protect our citizens from becoming the next victim.”
The public hearing will include an analysis of the many shortcomings in federal and state parole supervision, as well as the initial investigation. The hearing will in part be informed by California Inspector General David R. Shaw’s 2009 report on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) supervision of registered sex-offender and lifetime parolee, Phillip Garrido. The report uncovered a number of mistakes that let Ms. Dugard’s kidnapper remain free and keep her in captivity.
For example, parole officers from the CDCR paid 60 visits to Garrido’s home over a 10-year timespan, and all failed to detect the crime. The CDCR failed to investigate clearly visible utility wires running from Garrido’s house to the concealed backyard compound where Ms. Dugard was held captive. The report noted that the CDCR also failed to train parole agents to conduct home visits.
“If the system had worked the way it should have, Ms. Dugard and her two daughters would have been discovered merely 30-feet away,” said Gaines. “It’s hard to fathom that the backyard encampment where they were held captive went completely unnoticed for nearly two decades.”
On July 8, 2011, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California released a previously confidential report which characterizes Garrido’s federal parole supervision as “clearly substandard.” The report highlights the numerous opportunities to learn that Garrido had Ms. Dugard locked in a shed in his backyard.
“Convicted pedophiles and rapists must be incarcerated or closely monitored so they don’t victimize other Californians,” said District Attorney Pierson. “While there have been many changes at the federal and state levels to improve the supervision and detection of these offenders, the gravity and severity of the mistakes highlight the need to evaluate whether more can be done.”
“While the reports about the case point to where the system went wrong, we need to be focused on how to fix it,” said Gaines. “I urge anyone with ideas or suggestions for reform to attend the public meeting or contact me at (916) 651-4001 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
More information about the public meeting can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/GAINES.
Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.