The case of the California sex offender who managed to hold a victim captive for 18 years at home despite regular visits from a parole officer is raising questions about the efficacy of the country’s myriad laws on tracking the country’s 500,000 registered sex offenders, says USA Today. Phillip Garrido met with his parole officer two to three times a month and since January had been monitored with a GPS device strapped to his ankle. Yet police say he managed to conceal Jaycee Lee Dugard, whom he is accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing, in a squalid backyard encampment for 18 years.
The case is causing authorities to rethink their procedures as they question how a registered sex offender could lead a secret life while under their supervision. Some legal scholars and people who work with missing children say police are overwhelmed by the number of registered offenders they have to monitor. They say tough laws that require all sex offenders to register, no matter how small the offense, are counterproductive because parole officers waste too much time on minor cases. A sheriff’s spokesman in Garrido’s home county says, “All law enforcement agencies are asking themselves some real tough questions right now.”