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Federal report blasts probation officers' handling of Garrido case

By the CNN Wire Staff
Phillip and Nancy Garrido abducted Jaycee Dugard when she was 11 years old.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido abducted Jaycee Dugard when she was 11 years old.
  • Federal probation officers oversaw Phillip Garrido after his release on a rape conviction
  • A federal report, released this week, calls their supervision of him "clearly substandard"
  • California authorities had also criticized its parole officers for their handling of Garrido
  • Garrido got 431 years in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Jaycee Dugard

(CNN) -- A report from federal judicial authorities released this week blasted federal probation officers in northern California for their handling of the case of Phillip Garrido, who admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting Jaycee Dugard over 18 years.

Garrido was a registered sex offender when authorities located Dugard and her two children, who he'd fathered, nearly two years ago in an Antioch, California, home.

James Ware -- the chief federal judge for northern California, thus putting him in charge of the probation department there -- on Thursday released what was once a confidential report from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. It found no evidence that officers charged with tracking Garrido over the years would have found Dugard by searching the premises. Still, the report called the treatment of Garrido "clearly substandard" and symptomatic of larger problems.

"The Garrido case is a significant reflection of the deficient practices in the probation office in the northern district of California," the report said. "The office had a track record of inadequate supervision (and) serious deficiencies in operations."

Last month, a judge sentenced Phillip Garrido to 431 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and 12 counts of sexual assault. His wife Nancy Garrido got 36 years to life in prison for her role in the crimes, including kidnapping and one count of rape by force. The couple had pleaded guilty in late April in El Dorado Superior Court.

Jaycee Dugard opens up about kidnapping

Dugard was 11 years old when she was abducted in 1991 from the street in front of her South Lake Tahoe, California, home. The Garridos held her and her two children in a hidden compound on their home's grounds until she was found in 2009.

All that time, Garrido was a registered sex offender. In the 1970s, he was convicted of kidnapping a 25-year-old woman and keeping her in a storage shed in Reno, Nevada, where he repeatedly raped her.

After serving 11 years in the Leavenworth, Kansas, federal penitentiary, Garrido went to a halfway house, then was allowed to live with his mother at her Antioch home.

At that point, his case landed with the federal probation department in northern California.

"While records indicate that Garrido was correctly categorized as a 'high risk' offender, the probation office failed to supervise him accordingly," the Administrative Office said.

According to the report, area probation officers rarely visited Garrido at his home, "never" talked with neighbors and local law enforcement and "largely ignored ... frequent positive drug tests and submission of diluted urine samples." Moreover, the probation officer assigned to the case "relied on the offender's therapist for information rather than direct contact."

The officer never confirmed that Garrido had registered as a sex offender in California, brushed off fears expressed by his female co-workers at a nursing home, and did little when the earlier kidnapping victim reported seeing Garrido at her own workplace.

Rather, in its standard reports back to Nevada authorities, the northern California probation office typically noted "there have been no problems up to this point." And, with one exception, the U.S. Parole Commission similarly wasn't informed about Garrido's drug use.

The Administrative Office said the case's poor management was unsurprising, as the same federal agency had concluded in 2000 that the northern California probation office's supervision of sex offenders was "poor." Six years later, a team from this federal agency found that the office hadn't implemented any of its recommendations.

In 2007, the court -- headed currently by Ware -- replaced the district's chief probation officer, who brought in several other top people, mandated new training, performed internal audits and implemented other reforms.

"With strong support from the court, the new managers appear to have made significant progress in improving the quality of supervision in the district," the federal report said.

This report is one of several official recriminations of parole employees, including those with California.

Federal probation officers were charged with overseeing Garrido from his release from prison in 1988 until 1999, at which point that responsibility was turned over to California state parole authorities.

In November 2009, that state's Inspector General office issued a blistering report on Garrido's case and more widespread problems within the state's department of corrections' parole division.

"We found that the department missed numerous opportunities to discover Garrido's victims," wrote then-Inspector General David Shaw. "We discovered that the department also failed to properly supervise and train its parole agents responsible for Garrido."

The latest report comes as Dugard -- now 31 -- has increased her public profile.

Her emergence began at the Garridos' sentencing last April, when she issued a statement (read by her mother) calling the couple "evil" and describing her kidnapping by them as a "sexual perversion."

And she was the cover story last week in People magazine, which featured excerpts from her memoir. The book, entitled "A Stolen Life" and due in stores Tuesday, will detail "the fully story of her ordeal," the book's publisher Simon & Schuster said this spring.