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The Ever-Reliable Psychiatrist


We all recall the Jaycee Dugard case, in which a previously convicted, but paroled, child sexual abuser kidnapped an 11 year-old girl and kept her chained in a backyard shack where he raped her for the next 18 years.

The rapist's name is Phillip Garrido, and the question is why he was ever out on parole to begin with.  Here's the answer, from an AP report:

The report says Garrido should not have been freed from prison in 1988, where he was serving a 50-year federal sentence and a five-years-to-life Nevada state sentence for a previous kidnapping and rape. [El Dorado District Attorney Vern] Pierson said the parole system relied too heavily on psychiatric advice in determining Garrido's suitability for parole.

"The failure and inadequacies of the psychiatric profession were highlighted by Phillip Garrido and his manipulation of them to his advantage," Pierson wrote.

After Garrido nabbed Dugard in 1991, Pierson said federal and state parole agents failed to investigate his history of sexual crimes and instead relied on reports from psychiatrists. This led to agents missing numerous warning signs over dozens of visits, allowing Garrido to continue holding Dugard and seeking other victims.

It would be unfair, oversold and incorrect to say that the practice of psychiatry is the midwife of crime.  But when time and again we see leniency granted on the basis, not of the criminal's demonstrated conduct in the outside world, but on gushing psychiatric reports about his supposed wonderfulness in the controlled environment of prison, you can see why I'm tempted.

P.S.  This is something to be borne in mind as we assess those soothing assurances that the thousands of criminals to be released under Plata will all be, dontcha know, harmless. 

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