California corrections officials say they're working to improve the monitoring of released sex offenders, responding to a scathing report that cited missed chances to catch the suspect accused of holding Jaycee Dugard captive for 18 years.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Matthew Cate said Wednesday that legislation taking effect in January should help reduce caseloads and create a risk-based supervision model to ensure the most dangerous offenders receive the closest watch.
The department was slammed in a report released Wednesday by state Inspector General David Shaw for its supervision of convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido, who has been charged with the abduction, rape and imprisonment of Dugard.
"I think that the department's obligation today is to try to take each one of these missteps and try to learn from it and make sure that our agents are aware of these kind of circumstances so that we can to our best to make sure it doesn't happen again," Cates said on CBS' "The Early Show Thursday.
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Shaw told "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith that authorities improperly classifying Garrido as a low-risk offender "was the mistake that set the tone for probably the rest of the mistakes."
"The department can only watch people at a certain level considering how many of them there are and to have misclassified him out of the gate set that tone and caused a lot of future damage," Shaw said.
Critics say the system for monitoring sex offenders is broken in all 50 states, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker. There are almost 686,515 registered sex offenders nationwide, but few officers to monitor them. Even worse, some 100,000 convicted sex offenders have dropped out of the system and disappeared altogether
Dugard was reunited with her family in August after police say she spent 18 years living in a ramshackle backyard compound of tents and sheds with Garrido, his wife, and the two daughters she had with him.
Garrido had been under parole supervision because of a 1977 conviction for raping a 25-year-old woman. He was released from prison in 1988 and placed under federal supervision until 1999, when California took over.
The report said at least six parole agents were assigned to Garrido's case during the 10 years he was being handled by California.
Shaw said the mistakes also included officials neglecting to review his federal parole file, which revealed a federal agent had searched the secret backyard within a backyard where Dugard and the children allegedly lived. The file also contained a diagram and description of the size of Garrido's backyard.
Such mistakes by the department resulted "in the continued confinement and victimization of Jaycee and her two daughters," Shaw said, adding, "there were missed clues and opportunities to discover their existence sooner than they did."
Shaw said parole agents did not investigate visible utility lines leading to the secret compound, and said one agent did not try to confirm the identity of a young girl he saw at the house while on a visit, instead trusting Garrido's claim that she was his niece.
Shaw also faulted agents for not interviewing neighbors and following up on tips about children living in the backyard, and he skewered the department for failing to take advantage of satellite tracking technology that would have shown Garrido violated the terms of his parole by breaking a nighttime curfew and traveling farther than he was allowed to go.
Cate acknowledged "serious errors" and said the lessons learned are being implemented. He also said new legislation would focus parole supervision on high risk offenders and reduce caseloads.
He added that parole agents will be required to more routinely monitor the GPS tracking data that alerts agents of a parolee's whereabouts.
Garrido and his wife, Nancy Garrido, have pleaded not guilty to 29 counts related to Dugard's disappearance. Their next court appearance is Dec. 11.