Garrido Case: Parole System Priorities Upside Down


The case of Phillip Garrido, accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in California for 18 years, “is a textbook example of how our current parole system has its priorities upside down,” says Pat Nolan of Prison Fellowship. His federal parole ended in 1999, when California took over his lifetime monitoring as a sex offender. California places every released felon on supervised release, overwhelming their officers. From shoplifters and petty thieves to mass murderers, each felon is assigned a parole officer, with all the bureaucracy involved in that process. California's parole officers have large caseloads, averaging 70 each. Because of Garrido's violent background he was one of 40 cases supervised by his parole officer, a larger load than most states assign for dangerous felons.

By requiring supervision of minor crimes as well as serious ones, law enforcement resources are stretched very thin, Nolan says. Parole officers spend much of their time completing paperwork on offenders who committed relatively mundane offenses, while they could be concentrating their attention on the released offenders that pose a significant risk. As a result, very dangerous offenders don't get the attention they should get, and the public is at terrible risk, concludes Nolan.

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