Baby Killer Released From Prison Has Mom's Forgiveness

Betty SmitheyThe crime that made Betty Smithey the longest serving female inmate in American corrections history is unspeakable. In 1963, she killed a baby in cold blood, ending the life of 15-month-old Sandy Gerberick. And yet, it's fitting that Smithey is being released on parole this week.

Fitting because she's served her time. Fitting because Sandy Gerberick's mother has long since forgiven her former babysitter for killing her child.


If a mother who lost her baby can forgive the woman responsible, can't we?

It took Emma Simmons 20 years to write a letter of forgiveness to Betty Smithey in prison, but the fact that she was able to do it at all earns her my respect. I am a grudge holder. I still don't like the kid who kicked sand in my daughter's face on the first day of kindergarten. And he's 5. And it was sand!

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Forgiving someone for the ultimate betrayal, forgiving a babysitter who was supposed to care for your child but instead killed her, is unfathomable. The anger is boiling up inside of me even as I write this, along with the fear.

And yet, if Emma Simmons can do it, it seems right that Betty Smithey walks out of prison a free woman after 49 years on the inside. She has served her time, a long, long time. She's battled breast cancer and a myriad of other ailments, including coming to terms with the psychotic tendencies that led her to murder an innocent child. 

The state of Arizona says she's not a threat to society. Emma Simmons has forgiven her. Like it or not, we have to accept this too.

I'm not saying I'd hire her as a babysitter, but it certainly sounds like Betty Smithey should be a free woman today.

What do you think? Should Smithey be in jail or out today?


Image via Arizona Department of Corrections

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