ESCONDIDO — “The defendant does not suffer from a psychotic order. He is simply a bad guy who is inordinately interested in young girls,” said Dr. Matthew Carroll in 2000 after evaluating John Gardner prior to his sentencing for the brutal sexual assault of a teenage neighbor.
Despite Carroll’s recommendation that Gardner deserved the longest sentence possible because of his significant predatory traits toward young females and Gardner’s inability to be rehabilitated due to his belief that he did nothing wrong, Gardner was released from prison after serving five of a six-year term and then placed on parole in 2005 with minimal GPS monitoring, which state officials now realize was inadequate.
“Our review revealed that during Gardner’s parole supervision, the department did not identify his aberrant behavior, including unlawfully entering the grounds of a state prison — a felony — as well as numerous instances of violating the conditions of his parole,” said California Inspector General David R. Shaw in his special report issued June 2 relating to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s supervision of Gardner.
Shaw stated Gardner’s repeated parole violations included being within 100 yards of places where children congregate, residing within a half-mile of a school, leaving his residence during curfew, and having access to a storage facility. He said if the department had “aggressively monitored” Gardner’s GPS data during his parole, it would have identified the aforementioned criminal acts, which could have sent Gardner back to prison.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told Shaw that had the correction’s department brought to her attention that Gardner entered the grounds of a state prison while on parole, she would have charged him with a third-strike felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted, according the report.
On May 14, San Diego Superior Court Judge David Danielsen sentenced Gardner, 31, to two life terms in prison for the rape and murder of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King, and another 25 years to life sentence relating to the attempted rape last December of a female jogger near Lake Hodges where King was murdered.
Despite being a convicted violent sex offender at the time of his release from prison in 2005, Gardner was placed on “passive” GPS monitoring instead of “active” because the correction’s department’s static risk assessment tool did not deem Gardner a “high-risk sex offender,“ according to the report. Active monitoring consists of transmissions from the parolee’s device being uploaded at near real time intervals alerting parole agents immediately if a parolee violates a curfew or crosses a boundary. Comparatively, at the passive level, transmissions are uploaded at set intervals and alerts for possible violations are sent to the parolee agent the next day.
In response to the inspector general’s report, Matthew L. Cate, secretary for the California Department of Rehabilitation, said that passive level monitoring was discarded in March and “the department’s policies have improved since then to incorporate new techniques and to discard flaws in the previous program.” He added that parole agents are now required to review lower-risk parolees’ GPS tracks for two randomly selected 48-hour periods every month.