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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quality of Mercy?

For those of you following my blog, whether from the beginning or starting just a few months back, you've probably noticed a pattern of my speaking out against the terrible theme of leniency in many court cases, ironically all involving abductions of children.

 The latest case is that of Jaycee Dugard who was kidnapped at the age of 11 in 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido and held for 18 years in series of tents built in their backyard.  During her captivity, Dugard gave birth to two daughters, the first when she was 14 years old, the second one 3 years later; Phillip Garrido is the father of both.  After several missed opportunities to return Jaycee to her family over the years, she was discovered by authorities in August 2009.  After their arrest, the Garridos pled not guilty to the charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and false imprisonment.

They have now confessed to the abduction of Jaycee Dugard.  In a statement given during a press conference on February 28th, Nancy Garrido's attorney Stephen Tapson said "Mr. and Mrs. Garrido have given full, complete statements to the Sheriff's Department in the last month. Been honest with them, frankly, in hope of mercy on behalf of Mr. Garrido for Mrs. Garrido. Unfortunately, the quality of mercy is strained in El Dorado County."  Tapson said Nancy Garrido admitted to the kidnapping but was not involved in any sex crimes against Dugard.

Upon hearing the string of words "the quality of mercy is strained", I was outraged.  My previous blog post on the subject of Leniency stated my opinion that leniency and mercy are the reason that known offenders are allowed multiple opportunities to commit the same crimes, and Phillip Garrido is a prime example.  He has a criminal record including sexual assault and kidnapping and reports of spousal abuse to his first wife, whom he kidnapped when she tried to leave him.  His first arrest came in 1972 on sexual assault charges when he was 21 years old but his victim refused to testify so that case never made it to court.  Just four years later, he kidnapped a woman in South Lake Tahoe (the same location where Jaycee Dugard was abducted) and took her to a Reno, NV warehouse where he sexually assaulted her.  In a 1976 court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, Garrido was diagnosed as a "sexual deviant and chronic drug abuser."  In court, Garrido testified that he masturbated in his car by the side of grammar schools and high schools while watching young girls.  Garrido was convicted in March 1977 and in June he began what was supposed to be a 50-year sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison at the age of 26.  Four years into his sentence, he met Nancy who was visiting her uncle, also incarcerated at Leavenworth, and they were married.  Eleven years later, Phillip was released from Leavenworth to Nevada State Prison, where he served only 11 months of a 5 years-to-life sentence before being transferred to federal parole authorities in Antioch, CA, where he established the residence where Jaycee was held captive.

This case was perfect storm of careless leniency given to a man who was arrested for rape, convicted for kidnapping and rape, and who admitted in court to behavior that supported the evaluations that diagnosed him a sexual deviant.  According to his sentence for the first kidnapping conviction, he should have been in Federal prison until 2027, at which time he would have been 76 years old.  Thanks to the the parole system and poor handling of his supervision by a number of offices, Jaycee's parents missed 18 years of her life and she was stripped of her adolescence, forced to bare children, now fatherless and traumatized and unable to comprehend what is happening to them.

As for Nancy Garrido's attorney and his statement about the "quality of mercy" in the area where the trial is taking place, just 15 minutes up the hill from where I sit as I write this, the fact that Nancy did not sexually assault Jaycee Dugard earns her no merit.  Nancy is a spineless coward who should have immediately informed authorities when her husband brought home a girl he abducted.  Apparently being an accomplice to sexual assault, abduction and statutory rape doesn't matter when using the excuse that she was under the influence of mind control.  Phillip currently faces 440 years in prison and Nancy faces about half of that, but her attorney believes that "she should be able to walk on the beach probably with a walker at some point in time before she dies."  In my opinion, the fact that the Garridos haven't been raped or forced to live in an outdoor tent and they're not sitting on the chair right now shows as much mercy as they could ever expect, and far more than they deserve.