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Nancy Garrido: Victim or Monster?

Publication Date: 
September 02, 2009
CNN Anderson Cooper 360
Anderson Cooper

Professor Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, talks with CNN's Anderson Cooper about parole reform, reintegration of registered sex offenders, and Phillip and Nancy Garrido's criminal history:



But, first, a new development that's bound to rock the case against Jaycee Dugard's alleged captors and a sobering question about the neighborhood where she was held for 18 long years. Has it become a magnet for sex offenders?

The new development, Nancy Garrido, wife of Phillip Garrido, is showing signs she may be turning on her husband. She now appears to be saying, through her attorney, that she is one of the victims -- that even though she had sole control over Jaycee back in 1993, when her husband was jailed for parole violations.

It is hard to fathom, as so much of this case is. Here again with the latest, Dan Simon at the Garrido house.


Let's dig deeper now with legal analyst Lisa Bloom, also Stanford criminologist Joan Petersilia, a former special adviser to the California Department of Corrections.


Joan, the perception is that -- that sexual predators act alone, but here, Nancy Garrido was allegedly committing these crimes with her husband, even playing the role of primary captor when her husband was in jail. How unusual is that?

JOAN PETERSILIA, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, it's -- it's quite unusual actually for men to act in concert with men, but it's not that unusual for sexual predators as disturbed as this man to actually take a wife or some other accomplice, a female accomplice, victimize them, and then have them become part of the overall crime.

So, that isn't that unusual.

COOPER: Is her argument, you think, of being a victim in this made weaker by the fact that she married this guy when he was already in prison for -- for a rape that she committed?

PETERSILIA: Well, certainly. She cannot argue ignorance of his criminal past or his (INAUDIBLE)

She met him actually while she was visiting prison. So, they have a history of a criminal past together. And I think the fact that she -- she moved out there with him, she clearly knew that he was being drug-tested. He was registering as a sex offender. He was on parole.

He didn't have the condition of not associating with children, however, as part of his parole. And I think that's what people sometimes don't understand. His prior crimes did not involve children. So, the parole agents were really not looking out for children.

And when he told them that in fact these were his children, it kind of made sense. He had the wife. He had the children. And, you know, part of what -- what you spoke about at the start is kind of how sex offenders are having to move out to these very kind of rural areas.


COOPER: Joan, why do so many sex offenders seem to be going to a place like Antioch, California? More than 100 registered sex offenders there. Why is it such a magnet?

PETERSILIA: Well, there's really three reasons.

One is that the law says means they cannot live within 2,000 feet -- and that's about a half-a-mile, with an elementary school, a park, or any area where children congregate. So, they have got to move out to these very rural areas where there are few schools, few parks.

The second reason is that this is a suburb of San Francisco. The rents are high. Sex offenders often don't have jobs. So, he needed a place that was cheap. And this particular area, many, many houses are in foreclosures. Landlords are looking very much to rent to anyone. Sex offenders are a great population. Most other landlords won't rent to them.


COOPER: So, what -- what more do you think needs be done? I mean, this guy clearly slipped through the cracks. He was doing, by law, everything that he had to do, talking to his parole officer, wearing this ankle bracelet. What more needs to be done?

PETERSILIA: Well, it shows that the law really cannot protect us from somebody like him.

We have 63,000 sex offenders on Megan's Law. We need to get that down to about the 3,000 to 6,000 that are high-risk, violent. And then we need to do everything we possibly can, GPS, drug-testing, daily visits, unannounced home visits, visits to their families. But, right now, none of that happens. We have just got too many people labeled sex offenders.

COOPER: Joan...


COOPER: Got to leave it there.

Lisa Bloom, Joan Petersilia, thank you very much.