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How Garrido Got Out The First Time

Publication Date: 
September 02, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Jaxon Van Derbeken and Bob Egelko

Robert Weisberg, an expert in criminal justice, is quoted on the state of the parole system in the late 1980s, when Phillip Garrido was released after serving just 10 1/2 years in prison. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

When Phillip Craig Garrido was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1977 for kidnapping a South Lake Tahoe woman so he could rape her in a Reno storage unit, the prosecutor who put him away figured that was one sexual predator who was gone for good.

Under sentencing guidelines now in place, Garrido would have been behind bars for more than two decades - and wouldn't have been free in 1991 when 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched off the street in South Lake Tahoe, not far from where Garrido kidnapped Katie Callaway Hall in 1976.

But under 1970s-era sentencing laws, Garrido was eligible for federal parole after just 10 years - and he was set free in 1988.


"It was an attack on so-called lawless sentencing," said Robert Weisberg, a Stanford law professor. He said the parole system had fallen out of favor across the political spectrum, denounced from the right as lenient and based on unrealistic notions of rehabilitation, and from the left as arbitrary and prone to political manipulation.