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How Jaycee Lee Dugard's Tormentor Got Out

Of all the mysteries surrounding the horrific case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the California woman kidnaped as an 11-year-old in 1991 and held as a sexual slave for the last 18 years, none is more baffling -- or, to many, infuriating -- than this: How did her alleged tormentor, Phillip Garrido, get out of prison in 1988, after only about 11 years of a 50-year federal sentence for a previous abduction?

The answer is in some ways as chilling as the question. Basically, there was no corruption; no major bureaucratic malfunction. The federal parole authorities who let him go were following standard procedure of the time. In fact, according to officials with whom I spoke, Garrido’s 11-year stretch for a 1976 kidnaping and rape was relatively harsh in those days.

Thirty-three years ago, the law specifically provided that no prisoner could serve more than 10 years in the federal system without at least a chance at parole -- regardless of his original sentence. Garrido’s conviction, which came in Feb., 1977, was his first. The judge who sentenced him to 50 years may have been trying to signal parole officials who would later look at his case that this was no ordinary novice offender.

Indeed: on Nov. 22, 1976, Garrido seized 25-year-old Kathleen Hall in California, stole her car, tied her up and drove her to a rented storage unit in Nevada that he had prepared with lights, pornographic movies and a bed. He raped her there for several hours -- until, luckily, a police officer happened by.

But ten years later, when an examiner from the U.S. Parole Commission arrived to see Garrido at the federal prison in Lompoc, California, those ghastly events were known to him only from the cold paper record. Though Garrido’s parole proceeding is sealed, typically federal parole examiners would spend about an hour interviewing the inmate. They would also look into a prisoner’s adjustment to prison life, as reported by prison officials, his work record, if any, and evidence of new-found responsibility. Perhaps one point in Garrido’s favor was his marriage-by-mail to Nancy Bocanegra, whom he met while she was visiting a relative serving time with Garrido.

Obviously, the possibility that Garrido might offend again was crucial. To measure it, the parole examiner relied on a questionnaire which produced a Salient Factor Score (SFS). The SFS is an “empirically tested risk prediction instrument,” designed by the commission’s staff to calculate the likelihood that prisoners would revert to crime if released, according to Tom Hutchinson, the commission’s current chief of staff. The SFS, which is still in use, has an excellent forecasting record, Hutchinson says.

In hindsight, though, it clearly wasn’t created for a man like Phillip Garrido. The SFS focuses largely on the prisoner’s age (the older, the less likely to reoffend) and past behavior, as demonstrated by prior convictions. Since Garrido was in his late 30s and had no prior offenses, his SFS score would have been promising: nine points out of a possible 11.

Off his file went to Washington, where members of the parole commission concluded that he had done the right amount of time. None had a chance to look into Garrido’s face, which Leland Lutfy, the former assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case, will never forget. “His eyes were dead,” Lutfy recalls. “It was clear in my mind he would do it again. He had no remorse. He was scary.” But Lutfy did not weigh in on the parole decision. Neither Lutfy nor Garrido’s victim received any notice of his parole eligibility; that, too, was normal at the time.

Early in 1988, the U.S. government released Garrido into the custody of Nevada, where he faced a concurrent life sentence for the same crime. Nevada’s parole board had previously denied Garrido’s requests for a reduced sentence, according to Mike Malloy, the Reno prosecutor who handled the case. (In addition, Malloy says, both he and the state judge were under the impression -- wrong, as it turns out -- that Garrido would not be eligible for federal parole for at least 30 years.) But, once the feds had signed off on Garrido’s release from their system, Nevada officials followed their lead, granting Garrido parole after about seven months. By August 1988, he was back on the street.

Could the same thing happen today? Not quite. Congress has abolished federal parole and given much of the power that judges and the parole commission wielded to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets Federal Sentencing Guidelines. According to the 2008 edition of those guidelines, Phillip Garrido would face between 19 and a half and 24 and a half years if he were tried and convicted for his crime against Kathleen Hall today. With a 15 percent reduction for good behavior, he would still be looking at a minimum of 16 and a half years.

In other words, if today’s rules had been in force on the morning of June 10, 1991, as Jaycee Lee Dugard scurried off to catch the school bus in South Lake Tahoe, California, Phillip Garrido might well have been safely behind bars.

Created in 1987 with the twin goals of greater uniformity -- and greater truth -- in sentencing, the arcane guidelines have their share of critics, from those who say they overly penalize minor drug offenders to those who say they are still not harsh enough. This is one case, though, in which they represent an improvement over the old way of doing business.

By Charles Lane  | September 1, 2009; 7:19 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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>where members of the parole commission

Who were they? 1986, many years of President Reagan's influence and federal appointments.

Why pay attention to their paperwork and not include Prosecutor opinions? A Fax from Nevada to Washington would have taken no time at all.

A criminal bad enough to make into federal jail is released too soon, mind boggling.

Makes society wonder what other monsters received the same "justice"? Courts are political, some kind of politics is in this. How could a liberal Judge sentence him to 50 years? Federal prisons have limited space, rape wasn't murder.

Society was ill served. Nevada dropped the ball too, parole was too quick out of Federal prison for that dog. A child was kidnapped, who knows if that was their only attempt, highly doubtful!

People involved have to be on the spot. The Parole Commission members from 1987. That one case all discussion about that prisoner has to be known.

Posted by: gmrk | September 1, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

probably some bleeding heart Liberal Whack-Job...demanded he be released because its his Liberal Rights.....but Im sure these Liberal Whacks will somehow want to blame Bush also.

Posted by: JWx2 | September 1, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Our sentencing laws have always been much too lenient. Back in 1978 I personally investigated and lifted prints from a rapist that specialized in elderly women, brutally beating them about the face and upper body as well as raping them. His prints were not on file and we had no way of locating him, and he dissapeared for 2 years. I was working an overtime shift, covering for another officer when my old sergeant (I was plainclothes now) advised that he thought my rapist may be back, but this time he was going after young girls, in a window pry attempt earlier that night, chased away by her father with a baseball bat.
But he came back on graveshift, when I was working, and we had staked out the complex, and he was again chased by the father, and our officers with dogs, and I personally caught him, cuffed him, and made him on all rapes, an attempted rape, one burglary, and two counts of attempted burglary with intent to committ rape that night, all which would land him a life sentence.
By the time it went to court, on victim had died, several others would suffer extreme truama from testifying, and his lawyer and the DA made a deal. 12 YEARS HARD TIME, and then out on parole.
I retired several years later injured on duty. I guess were both out now.
We must review our sentencing laws on rape, violent crime, child molest and make sure these offenders do not have the chance to offend again.

Posted by: RetiredCop | September 2, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

We should be keeping violent sexual offenders in jail for LIFE without parole. But we keep spending our tax dollars imprisoning marijuana smokers instead. Ridiculous! Legalize and tax pot (same rules as alcohol) and spend the public funds incarcerating people like Garrido. The world would be a better place BY FAR.

Posted by: GetYourPrioritiesStraight | September 2, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

GetYourPrioritiesStraight wrote:
"We should be keeping violent sexual offenders in jail for LIFE without parole. But we keep spending our tax dollars imprisoning marijuana smokers instead."

My thoughts, exactly.

Posted by: martymar123 | September 2, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

So instead of 11 years he'd have had to do 16.

Boy I'm sure in those 5 years he would have been totally reformed!

Jaycee Lee would be saved! Of course a Jane Doe would be sentenced to life in a rape dungeon.

Great argument.

Posted by: Gover | September 2, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Rapists and pedophiles should be executed. It is the only way to keep the public safe from them, as they will always re-offend. In fact I have read where pedophiles want their sickness classified as an orientation, like homosexuality currently is, to lend some sort of legality to their nasty sick ways. Legal does not mean normal, or morally correct, or anything close to right. This is a clear case of the slippery slope, by recognizing one form of sexual misconduct as being legal and having some kind of rights, we have opened the door to something far worse, though how much worse than spreading fatal disease is, I am not sure. Once upon a time, rapists WERE executed, and sexual deviants were locked up, and this country was a safer place for children. Now with rapists receiving compassion and treatment and light sentences, and sex deviants running around loose, no child is safe anymore. I am a liberal Democrat, but there is no way I can be 'that' kind of liberal.

Posted by: mike92 | September 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

My daughter was a victim of rape/abuse she has spent 3 yrs in and out of the justice system. What we have found is non of the different divisions are inter-related. There is little or no cohesiveness and the criminals have many more rights than do the victims.
I watched the defense drag her through the mud and the court never asked the rapist about what he had done.
In the end even though there was a written confession, physical and forensic evidence he was allowed to plea out of the sex crime status.
His sentence was to have been 3 yrs and 9 months and he served 19 months. He continued to stalk my daughter from jail, in prison and even during sentencing.
The DA again brought charges of a 3rd and 4th viol of op and all they did was give him probation.
Did you know there is a big difference between parole and probation? It took 3 months to finally find out what he would get. Thank God the Prison Review Board revoked his Parole.
We never would have known any of this had it not almost consumed our lives. My daughter's story was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. If you'd care to read about her go to
Too many criminals are slipping thru the system and too many women and children are suffering from it.

Posted by: chacha6905 | September 2, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

If we didn't waste space and money on non-violent drug offenders, maybe we could keep the people who are actually dangerous and deserve to be in jail incarcerated.

Posted by: benandpogo | September 2, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank a republican for this. They are the ones who overcrowd our jails with people who don't belong there, so violent offenders get out, who are mostly republicans themselves. Everybody knows that republicans are the violent ones, the perverted ones, the ones who fantasize about torturing people and owning slaves. Almost all crime is committed by republicans. Except victimless crimes, like drug use. Any nasty, hateful or violent thing done, you can be sure the person is republican.

Posted by: benandpogo | September 2, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Jaycee Dugard is relieved to know that the rules have changed so that parole boards have to wait a little longer to do the wrong thing. We've had to endure the spectacle of judges handing out astronomical sentences (500 years, 1000 years, 50 life terms) to keep a criminal from being cut loose by a parole board. To keep someone in jail "without the possibility of parole," why not simply abolish parole boards? Why should there be a mechanism in place to subvert or ignore a criminal's sentence in the first place? Is there really a good reason why Charles Manson or Richard Speck were having parole hearings? There's an excellent scene in the film "Backdraft" where arson crazy Donald Sutherland comes before a parole board. Fortunately, Robert DeNiro manages to keep him in, but that's Hollywood, isn't it? In real life, they would have let him out, just like Phillip Garrido.

Posted by: rbmurals | September 2, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

When sex offenders are released from jail they should either be castrated or given a drug which will inhibit their libido permanently. It's a known fact that of all the criminals that can be rehabilitated, sex offenders are the ones that CAN'T be. They almost always strike again. Wearing ankle bracelets are useless. Garrido was supposedly wearing one when he snatched Jaycee Lee.
Also, Garrido's probation officer visited him 2 and 3 times a month????? Was he blind in one eye and couldn't see out of the other one? The probation officer should be fired for incompetence!
The other pig in this is Nancy Garrido.She allowed her husband to rape a 11year old child. I don't understand that at all.

Posted by: jamax22 | September 2, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

How many of our children and women must die or disappear before we stand up to protect them. It seems to be a problem that will not go away by ignoring . I call upon each and every citizen to “ Stand With ME “ and do the right thing.
We outnumber the bad in this country in al but the willingness to get involved. The low life’s count on us not getting together. They operate in the day light as well as in the dark without any apparent fear. They come in all sizes, ages, colors, all incomes, yet no one sees them. We look away and hope they don’t see us. We turn blind and deaf as they prey on our society. We no longer know who our neighbors by name. Fear fills our streets, schools, and public parks for both the young and the old.
I say it is the bad ones who should live in fear. Stand with each other and take back our country. Stand with me and I will help you be strong. Every person that helps another, helps themselves. Go out and greet your neighbors so a stranger stands out from the crowd. Watch out for all our loved ones so we are no longer prey.
Stand with me America so our country can be safe. I can’t be by your side everyday so please stand together. I can’t be everywhere but you can.
You are all stronger then the bad. No bully can face a crowd. No thief can steal what all eyes are on. No child can be harmed if we all listen and see. No woman can be harmed if people are there to render aide. No one old or young can suffer if we all stand together.
I call upon you my fellow Americans to return control of this great land. I will be there for you, so please be there for each other. Be the human being and let us put the animals in a cage. No vigilantes, only citizens doing what is right. If we fill the jails we will build more of them. If we save one person the cost will balance out. Are you willing to live a better life now. Stand with me America, I can not do it alone.

Stand up with me, and America will be free. Stand side by side, against all who don’t abide.
Stand up against all crimes, and we will live in the best of times.
Stand up at home with all your might, a family united is worth the fight.
Stand up for the weak, and together we can have the life we seek.
Stand up for the young and old, for together we may all be bold.
Stand up against everything wrong, Stand as one and be strong.
Stand together and end all pain, Stand united and we all gain.
Stand against bullies and thieves, Stand deaf to he who deceives.
Stand up with me as a proud American, and honestly do all that you can.
Contact me or Together we are strong - Let us work together America.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 2, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

"Off his file went to Washington, where members of the parole commission concluded that he had done the right amount of time."

How did they determine the "right" amount of time for this crime? Can there really be a right amount of time to serve a particular crime? If he had served 2 years or 10 years longer, would that have prevented him from committing another heinous crime like this?

Posted by: ler04e | September 3, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Another travesty in this case is that he was able to hide her in his backyard for 18 years!!!-did you see the pictures of his yard?neighbors complained and police came to his front door!!! but the deputy spent 8 minutes at the front door. However, if neighbors would have called with a "suspicion that marijuana was being grown in the backyard" you know that the police would have raided the home in an instant. ridiculous.

Posted by: mimo1 | September 3, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

where was this Parole Panel when Garrido violated his parole almost immediately upon release by contacting (in person) his victim at her place of employ??? She reported it to the police.

Garrido and people like him should probably be castrated, and even then, there are no guarantees. Or, in the alternative, perhaps we can set them up on some deserted island and make it like a leaper colony

Posted by: dazedandconfused | September 3, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

As I recall, preventive detention worked wonders in South Africa for several decades. ... Since the prosecutor Lufty can tell just by looking into someone's eyes whether or not they're safe to walk the streets, we can just put him in charge of deciding who gets locked up and for how long.

Or why not follow Singapore's lead and publicly lash gum-chewers? That'll surely deter the ne'er do-wells.

Posted by: TheProFromDover | September 3, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Just so I understand...

30 years ago a first-time adult female kidnapping plus assault plus multiple rape got you 11 years in prison IF caught.

Today, just 16 years ?

Why should women feel much safer ?

Posted by: pvilso24 | September 3, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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