SACRAMENTO, California – California lawmakers have approved a $US20 million ($NZ29m) settlement for the family of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped as a girl and held captive in a secret backyard for 18 years by a paroled sex offender.
Dugard, 30, resurfaced last August with two daughters she bore with Phillip Garrido, a convicted rapist.
Dugard and her daughters, ages 15 and 12, filed claims in February, saying state officials with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to do their jobs. Parole agents began supervising Garrido in 1999 but didn’t discover Dugard.
The Dugard family members claimed psychological, physical and emotional damages.
“I can’t emphasise 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 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 retired San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Daniel Weinstein, who acted as the mediator in the case.
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. “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.
The money will come from the state’s hard-hit general fund, which pays for most state operations.
Dugard’s mother filed a claim with the state in February but was not included in the settlement, Weinstein said.
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.
Attorneys for the Dugards did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment. 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.