Commentary: Garrido case a prime example of need for parole reform

The sensational case of Phillip Garrido, who has been charged with kidnapping then-11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard near her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991, is already being used by some as an argument against parole reforms and an independent sentencing commission. But the Garrido case is in fact an excellent argument for these reforms.

Garrido was sentenced for his original crimes in Nevada, not California, and his case is most notable for problems with the federal and Nevada state sentencing systems in the 1970s.

Beginning in 1978, Garrido served only 11 years of a 50-year federal sentence for kidnapping. Then he was transferred to a Nevada prison to serve his state sentence of five years to life for the sexual assault. Because his 11 years in the federal prison counted as time served, he was deemed eligible for parole shortly after he arrived in the state system.

Garrido was placed on lifetime parole in 1988 after serving only eight months at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. He was supervised by federal and Nevada parole agents in Antioch, Contra Costa County, where he lived at his mother's home and registered as a sex offender.

The California corrections system entered the picture only in 1999, when Garrido's parole was taken over by California through an interstate agreement.

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