Lawmakers pass $20M
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A woman who bore two children while being held prisoner for nearly two decades will receive $20 million from the state of California after claiming parole officers failed to do their job and find her while monitoring a convicted rapist.
Lawmakers approved the settlement Thursday for Jaycee Dugard, now 30, and her two daughters, who resurfaced last August after being held in a secret backyard by a suspect identified by authorities as Phillip Garrido.
"It is compensation for three people for the rest of their lives who have been horribly damaged over a period of 17 or 18 years," mediator Daniel Weinstein told The Associated Press.
Dugard and her daughters, ages 15 and 12, filed claims in February, saying parole agents with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began supervising Garrido in 1999 but didn't discover them.
The Dugard family members claimed psychological, physical and emotional damages.
"I can't emphasize enough that we've got to be much more prudent in terms of how we provide oversight for released prisoners in the state of California," Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Granite Bay, said.
The money will be used to buy the family a home, ensure privacy, pay for education, replace lost income and cover what will likely be years of therapy, said Weinstein, a retired San Francisco County Superior Court judge. In addition, much of the money will be placed in long-term investments, he said.
"It was not an effort to make reparations for the years of abuse and incarceration or imprisonment against their will, because ... the damages to these people were incalculable," Weinstein said in a telephone interview. "Part of this was a prudent effort by the state to shut off liability from a catastrophic verdict."
Weinstein praised the state for quickly accepting responsibility, and the Dugards for accepting a reasonable settlement at a time when the state faces a $19 billion budget deficit. He said the scope of the claim was unprecedented in his 20 years as a mediator because of the duration of the crime and that it led to the birth of two children.
The money will come from the state's hard-hit general fund, which pays for most state operations.
Dugard's mother Terry Probyn filed a claim with the state in February but was not included in the settlement, Weinstein said. Her claim is pending and under negotiation by the corrections department and attorney general's office, said Lynn Margherita, a spokeswoman for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.
Dugard's lawyer Dale Kinsella said he could not comment beyond a joint statement issued with the state attorney general detailing how the money will be used.
Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state corrections department, declined comment.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to sign the bill detailing the settlement, spokesman Aaron McLear said.
Garrido and his wife Nancy have pleaded not guilty to charges that they kidnapped and raped the young woman.
Dugard and her children were hidden at the Garrido home in the eastern San Francisco Bay area city of Antioch, authorities said.
Lawmakers approved the settlement with a 30-1 vote in the Senate and a 62-0 vote in the Assembly. It involved the bulk of the money approved in AB1714, which settles three other claims for a combined $1.49 million.
Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Yuba City, said it was wise for the state to pay the claim quickly rather than fight a court battle that he said "exacerbates the grievous loss of the victims and the lifelong condemnation and pain of their families."
He predicted the state also will pay claims in the case of John Albert Gardner III, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to killing two San Diego County teenagers. Parole agents were also faulted in that case for failing to send Gardner, a convicted sex offender, back to prison.