The state Legislature voted this morning to give kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard $20 million to head off a potentially larger judgment against the state for failing to adequately supervise her alleged kidnapper, prison parolee Phillip Garrido.
The $20 million was placed into an otherwise routine "claims bill," Assembly Bill 1714, on Wednesday. It passed the Senate 30-1 and the Assembly 62-0, sending it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because the bill cleared the Legislature in the new fiscal year and the state has not approved a budget, the governor will have to formally request that the measure come to his desk. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor will ask for the bill and sign it.
Dugard was 11 years old when she was kidnapped off the street near her home in South Lake Tahoe in 1991, and authorities say she was held prisoner for nearly two decades in Garrido's Antioch home. He and his wife, Nancy Garrido, face numerous charges relating to the case and potentially face life in prison.
Dugard's attorneys filed multiple claims with the state Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board, alleging that Garrido was not adequately supervised while on parole for years following a 1977 conviction for kidnapping and rape. The claims were held in abeyance while negotiations with the state over a settlement continued.
The original case was in Nevada but California assumed responsibility for parole supervision after the Garridos relocated to California.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to information supplied to senators, agreed to submit the claims to mediation, and last week, a retired judge, Daniel Weinstein, mediated the case, resulting in the $20 million settlement even though the state continues to deny the specific allegations in the Dugard claims.
The $20 million will compensate Dugard and her two children for the counseling they will require and her lack of education during her years of confinement.
The move is unusual, because the claim has not reached the court. State analysts believed a jury award could be more expensive and deny Dugard compensation in the meantime.
"While CDCR is legally protected by well-established immunities, DOJ recognizes this case has a unique and tragic character," the legislative analysis says. "Although defendant's chances of prevailing ... appear good, DOJ states a potential damages award by a jury could be extremely high."
(This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. to note that the governor plans to sign the bill)
IMAGE: File photo of Jaycee Lee Dugard CREDIT: AP