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Schwarzenegger reverses state policy on parole records

March 9, 2010 |  5:23 pm

Amber

State prison officials, drawing fire for destroying the parole file of a man under scrutiny in the deaths of two teenage girls, reversed their recordkeeping policy on Tuesday under orders from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

John Albert Gardner III was charged last week in the suspected killing of Chelsea King, 17, of Poway and is a person of interest, police say, in the slaying of Amber DuBois, 14, who disappeared on her way to school more than a year ago. Her skeletal remains were found Saturday in northern San Diego County.

A convicted sex offender, Gardner, 30, was discharged from parole in 2008 and his file was purged a year later in accordance with departmental policy. He is being held without bail.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) requested the parole file earlier this month and, he said, received only a one-page summary of Gardner’s interactions with the state correctional system. On Tuesday, Fletcher called for an investigation of the state’s recordkeeping practice by a legislative panel and the inspector general who monitors the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Later Tuesday, Schwarzenegger told corrections officials that all records relating to paroled sex offenders should be maintained indefinitely.

“The current practice of not keeping information on sex offenders in California is unacceptable,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "It is in the best interest of public safety to retain all information on these individuals and to make as much information as possible available and transparent.”

Schwarzenegger’s prisons chief, Matt Cate, said he had directed parole staff to make the policy change immediately.

Cate said the department would release any information on Gardner in the file kept on him when he was in prison, “in accordance with the law and in coordination with local investigators and court orders to ensure it will not hinder their ongoing investigation.”

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento

Photo: Mourners at memorial service for Amber in San Diego County. AP

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