In the midst of an attempt to reform California sentencing laws that critics say were often hurriedly passed based upon the latest headlines, along comes a new headline story that may foil the reform effort. The case of Phillip Garrido, a parolee and registered sex offender accused of abducting an 11-year-old girl and holding her hostage for 18 years, has become embroiled in the debate over legislation intended to reduce California's inmate population, reports the New York Times.
The State Assembly is scheduled to vote on Monday on its version of a bill to help cut the budget deficit by $1.2 billion by reducing the state prison population by 27,000 through an early parole program. The State Senate passed its version of the legislation this month. Some corrections reform advocates fear the fallout from the Garrido case could affect or even derail action on the Assembly bill. “This demonstrates the problems that we're going to have if we release thousands of prisoners into our local communities,” State Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) told the Sacramento Bee. “If we let someone out early, and that man commits a crime, the Assembly members are worried that that will come back to haunt them like the old famous Willie Horton ads,” said a prominent state politician.