Mom who drowned daughter released

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
Mom who drowned daughter released

Do you think this woman should have been released? Do you think she is a danger to society?

Three years after Jennifer Lynn Bigham drowned her 3-year-old daughter in a bathtub at a Patterson home, a judge ordered jail officials to release her from custody because doctors say the woman no longer is insane.

The court already had ruled that Bigham, 26, was not guilty of murder and child abuse by reason of insanity in connection with the death of her daughter, Alexandrea Bigham. At a hearing Tuesday, the judge had to decide whether the defendant should be confined in a secure medical facility.

Two doctors testified that Bigham no longer exhibits the symptoms that led to the psychotic breakdown, causing the defendant to drown her daughter. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff said the law clearly dictates that he has to order the defendant's release if she has fully recovered her sanity.

Deputy District Attorney Elaine Casillas argued that the court's standard was not stringent enough in determining Bigham's mental health status. She said the court did not ask the doctors to determine whether Bigham could be a danger to herself or others once she is released.

"She's a danger to society," Casillas said about Bigham after the hearing. "She's not been evaluated properly."

Had the doctors determined that Bigham still was suffering from mental illness, the judge could have ordered the defendant to a life-term stay at a medical facility.

The prosecutor was frustrated that the judge didn't order Bigham to seek some type of outpatient mental health treatment after her release.

Casillas told the judge the district attorney's office would file an appeal, but the prosecutor said that would not delay Bigham's release from the Stanislaus County Jail.

Full story
Sanity ruling frees mom held since daughter's drowning in Patterson - Crime & Courts -

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I have no idea how anyone could determine that one way or the other from this article.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

That is a very poorly written article! It took me a couple of reads before I could figure out what (I think) they meant to say. I don't think her release should depend on whether she's a danger to society or not; it should depend on whether she has been properly punished for killing her daughter. I don't like the idea that killers can be released scot-free because they were insane when they committed the crime. In other countries, when you're no longer insane, that's when you go to prison or onto parole or whatever the proper sentence for your crime would be. I'd be willing to give her credit for her time spent in the psychiatric facility. Three years for involuntary manslaughter followed for another few years on parole seems reasonable, so I would expect her to be under parole supervision for a few years, definitely not released outright.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I understand the article, I don't understand letting someone who killed a child go after spending time in a treatment facility and not a jail. Especially someone who isn't cleared for being a danger to society. I do think jail should be used to keep people who are a danger to society out of the general public, it shoudln't be used just for punishment for crimes they've already committed IMHO. If you are violent, it doesn't matter to me how long you spend in jail for each crime, it's the chance that you'll continue to committ crimes.