California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state corrections officials to stop destroying sex offenders’ parole files and to make as much of their contents public as possible, the Sacramento Bee reports. The moves comes after the Bee’s successful lawsuit to force corrections officials to turn over the parole records of kidnap and rape suspect Phillip Garrido. “The current practice of not keeping information on sex offenders in California is unacceptable,” the governor said. “It is in the best interest of public safety to retain all information on these individuals and to make as much information as possible available and transparent.
Until yesterday, the state routinely shredded the files of parolees one year after they had been discharged from parole. The policy dates to 2008. Before that, the department destroyed parolee files four to six months after discharge, depending on the severity of an offender’s background. The files typically contain parole agents’ notes regarding supervision, as well as records of any violations. Harriet Salarno, president of Crime Victims United of California, said learning the shredding policy left her “in a state of shock.” She argued that every record regarding sex offenders should be retained, given the probability that they will reoffend.