Friday, September 4, 2009

Would Jaycee Dugard have been saved earlier if there had been marijuana growing in that back yard?

Charmie Gholson, a LEAP staff member, was kind enough to share the following post:

Police continue to seek answers to how a convicted sexual predator was able to kidnap a young girl and keep her, along with the two children she bore him, in captivity for nearly two decades.

I honestly have compassion for Sheriff Warren Rupf and the department he oversees. This Contra Costa sheriffs department in the San Francisco Bay area is going to have some tough questions to answer in the upcoming weeks.

In the past few years, authorities had several chances to uncover the ramshackle backyard compound where Dugard and her children were kept, a missed opportunity that Sheriff Warren Rupf said was unacceptable. He also promised changes.

In 2006 a neighbor called 911 to report "suspicious circumstances involving young children” in the home's backyard, and had said Garrido was psychotic and had a sex addiction. The deputy spent about 30 minutes interviewing Garrido on the front porch and left after warning him that people living outdoors on the property could be a code violation. From the Contra Costa Times:

"We missed an opportunity to bring earlier closure to this situation," Rupf said. "I cannot change the course of events but we are beating ourselves up over this." Rupf added, "I offer my apologies to the victims and accept responsibility for having missed a chance to rescue Jaycee."

Sheriff Warren attributed the shortcoming to the deputy's lack of ready access to a database containing information about sex offenders in the county:

"We should have been inquisitive, more curious, and turned over a rock or two," Rupf said. "There are no excuses."

If I lived in California, I would want to know why the Costa County Sherifs department hasn’t allocated funding to ensure police had access to the sexual offender database. I might also ask why they didn’t use their new armored vehicle, that can rescue hostages and withstand snipers' bullets, to help rescue Jaycee Dugard. From the article in the Oakland Tribune:

The Lenco BearCat -- purchased with a federal Homeland Security grant of $243,000 -- can detect poisonous gases, travels as fast as 85 mph and has gunports for 10 rifles. While the intent of the BearCat purchase is to better prepare deputies for response to a terrorist attack, the county reports that the vehicle will probably be used more for protecting hostages, driving through gunfire and raiding drug houses.

Retired Police Chief Joseph McNamara commented on the acquisition:

"When the funny money comes in from the federal government, it's presented in a way that a sheriff would be anti-patriotic not to take it," said former San Jose police Chief Joseph McNamara, a criminal justice expert at Stanford's Hoover Institution. "If we were talking about getting this armored car versus after-school programs for kids, the armored car wouldn't compete well."

But let's get back to Jaycee Dugard, who was able to attend school after being kidnapped in 1991, but was instead raped repeatedly by Garrido and held captive for 18 years.

Miss Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped. She was waiting at a bus stop near her stepfather who watched in horror as she was snatched up and driven away in a car. He chased on a bicycle but was unable to catch up. Authorities have been unable to locate her until August 26, when 58 year old Phillip Garrido came into his parole agent's office in the San Francisco Bay area and turned himself in.

Why did Garrido turn himself in?

Two members of the UC Berkeley police force, Lisa Campbell and Ally Jacobs interacted with Garrido and both of his “daughters” when he came to inquire about holding a campus event related to a group called "God's Desire." His insane rantings and the fearful demeanor of the girls alarmed the two women, so Jacobs ran a background check and discovered he was a registered sex offender on federal parole for kidnapping and rape. After a second meeting with Garrido the next day, she called his parole officer in Concord, who seemed surprised to hear about the girls. He asserted Garrido didn’t have any daughters.

From what I can glean from news reports, that parole officer did nothing more than request Garrido come into his office. That’s when this lunatic showed up with his wife, Miss. Dugard and her daughters, and turned himself in.

Jacobs called her ability to assess the situation a combination of police intuition combined with mothers intuition.

Garrido confessed to the kidnapping and was arrested along with his wife. Authorities allege Miss. Dugard was held as a prisoner in the backyard encampment all these years and gave birth to two daughters, ages 11 and 15, who were fathered by Phillip Garrido. Both Garrido and his wife have entered not guilty pleas.

In addition to the 911 call in 2006, July 2008 a task force composed of East Contra County police agencies, spearheaded by the Sheriff's Office, conducted a sweep of registered sex offenders to confirm they were living at the address they gave authorities. The visits included a stop at Garrido's home but the responding officer wasn’t aware that he was a registered sex offender. He left after talking with Garrido in front of the house.

Garrido's parole agent also made visits to the Antioch home but never saw Dugard or her children.

Let me state something clearly here: Law Enforcers aren't to blame for this. Our laws are.

Until we reprioritze our laws, until we end the drug war legalizing and regulating drugs as we do tobacco and alcohol, our police will have to continue to enforce the laws as they are written. And we will continue to have funding and resources diverted to a war that we cannot, and are not, winning.

Our law enforcers will continue to be distracted.

A quick internet search produces an article reporting that on Mar. 15 of 2006--the same year the neighbors reported children living in Garridos backyard--authorities "completed a four-month wiretap surveillance of prominent North Richmond drug-dealing suspects with a massive raid of at least 12 homes in Contra Costa and Solano counties. " Some may argue that eliminating drugs and drug dealers from community is as important as apprehending monsters like Garrido. But do you really think that March 15 drug bust will do that? Is the drug problem solved? No. Investigations, arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations will not put eliminate drugs from Costa County or anywhere else in the U.S.

The longer we execute the “War on Drugs,” the more we see proof of how this policy has failed. The trillion dollars spent since 1970 has brought us 35 million arrests and done nothing to eliminate drugs from society.

Legalizing and regulating drugs will eliminate the ongoing meth problem that takes up so much time and resources of Costa County law enforcers. California accounts for 85 percent of total U.S. methamphetamine production and Contra Costa County has become a hotbed of meth production in Northern California, with more than 100 labs seized each year since 1998.

LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - works to educate the public about the failure of our $69 billion-a-year War on Drugs. They also say that law enforcers want to be able to do their sworn duty of keeping society safe instead of enforcing this failed policy.

Phillip Garrido is clearly a menace to society:

In 1977 Garrido was sentenced for a sex attack on a 25-year-old casino worker and 50 years for kidnapping her. He was granted parole in 1988, three years before Miss Dugard vanished.

What do you think that Costa County officer would have done, what actions do you think the county sheriffs department or the parole officer would have taken if the Garridos neighbor had reported to say that a convicted sex offender was growing marijuana in his back yard?

The FBI reports in its Uniform Crime Reporting Program that Contra Costa county completed 6,436 total drug violation arrests out of 34, 377 arrests in 2000. The number for sex offenses? 265. Offenses against family and child: eight.

California citizens should all be asking these questions of the Contra Costa sheriff's department: What's the ratio of narcotics officers compared to those assigned to the sexual assault unit -- and what hours do they work? Or the child abuse unit? Is there a child abuse unit? What are the budgets for these units? What is the budget for the narcotics unit? How many narcotics raids did the department conduct while Miss Dugan was being raped and help prisoner by Phillip Garrido?

I can assure you of this—had that neighbor called the Sheriffs department to report Garrido was growing marijuana or cooking meth, those officers would have gone further than the front porch.


  1. Not too long ago NOW (PBS TV Show) re-ran an earlier broadcast with some startling statistics.

    Over at the former LEAP blogs, Howard wrote a post about how 400,000 "rape kits" from around the country were sitting around, yet to be tested.

    According to Human Rights Watch 499 rape kits are from cases past the 10 year statute of limitations! And thousands more have been destroyed, untested!

    This is sick!

    I read a post that contains that information and more, with links to the various sources, and you can also watch the episode of NOW there too.

    U.S. to Rape Victims and Loved Ones, "We Care More About Hunting Down and Locking Up Every Last Drug User Than Your Alleged Rape."

  2. NewOldSalt - you're observant! We changed the title because someone noticed that the old title could be interpreted as meaning there was marijuana growing in the backyard, but that the neighbors simply didn't call it in. I wanted the title to make it clear there was no marijuana and that we were talking about a hypothetical situation.

    By the way, thank you for the link to the Christians Against Prohibition blog. Do you work/volunteer with that organization? I sent them a message through their comment form telling them about the new LEAP blog.

  3. I supply with some ideas.

  4. Per Sheriff Warren Rupf and his Office's involvement with Phillip Garrido. There are at least two other incidents involving the Contra Costa County Sheriff's office and Phillip Garrido. Perhaps the first was in 1992 when a 911 caller spotted Jaycee Dugard. Rupf will not release the police reports on that. One can only assume that not much was done about it but show up at the gas station. The caller correctly identified a yellow Dodge van that was the same as Garrido's (he still had it in his yard in the 2009 arrest, in fact). Garrido lived only 2 miles from that gas station - was a notice sent out to the public to look for a van matching that description? Were officers alerted to keep an eye out? Were vehicle records checked?

    In 2008, the Sheriff's Office also participated in a sweep that included a visit to Garriod's house. The recent Parole Report also shows that Garrido's records were accessed many times by 'local police'. In fact, they were accessed before the 2008 raid which means they were aware he was a sex offender and that could easily have been cross checked with the 2006 visit t Garrido's house. In 2006, the officer was told Garrido was a Registered Sex Offender and had children on his property. The responding officer told Garrido the tents could be in violation of City Code. Rupf also claims that the records could not be accessed that day - uh, so they just let it go. This is not a minor oversight and neither are the other ones. Blaming this all on parole stinks - both the Parole folks and the Sheriff's office are responsible. Rupf is not an honorable character for admitting one mistake, making light of it, and then refusing to release records. He and his office need to be investigated. No surprise he decided to retire.


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