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California DA Seeking to Change Parole Laws

There is an old saying in the law that bad facts make bad law and there is an effort underway to make sure this is true.

Vern Pierson, who is District Attorney for El Dorado County, is working with State Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican, to change the existing law regarding whether the original crime should play a part in parole considerations. A new bill on this issue is said to be ready to present in the next week.

Pierson is using the case of Phillip Garrido to justify the change in the parole laws. Garrido was sentenced to 50 years after he and his wife were convicted of the kidnapping, including holding her for 18 years, and rape of Jaycee Dugard.

Garrido was released from prison after serving 11 years of his 50 year sentence.

The problem with this attempt is that, first, is that you have two politicians grandstanding to generate press, including Pierson’s releasing of two videos showing the Garridos interacting with the child. The release of the two videos, as opposed to showing them to a legislative committee, are obviously designed to generate press and raise the “public voice”. No one on the other side has the time or inclination or ability to show videos of the people imprisoned because of mental health issues or other problems that have resolved while in prison.

In addition, since Pierson is the DA who was responsible for the convictions of the Garridos he obviously has a little self interest involved in his evangelicizing.

In an interview, Pierson said a big issue in the Garrido case was an “overreliance upon psychiatric professionals who were all too willing to listen to what Phillip Garrido was telling them and ignore the documented evidence that overwhelmingly established that he is a sexual predator.”

Basically, his position is that he knows better than the professionals, a hypocritical stance I’m sure he doesn’t take when he is using experts to send people to prison.

If you have a loved one in prison, be sure and keep an eye on this issue and let your state legislator know that the DAs need to stay out of the process and let the people concerned about the rehabilitation process make the decisions. Not the ones whose job is to put as many people in prison as possible, and who believe that rehabilitation doesn’t happen.

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