Elizabeth Smart urges authorities to reconsider planned release of kidnapper Wanda Barzee

 foxnews.com  9/13/2018 10:15:00 PM   Samuel Chamberlain

Elizabeth Smart said Thursday that Utah officials should "strongly reconsider" releasing a woman who helped to kidnap Smart more than 16 years ago.

In a brief statement to reporters, Smart said the decision to free Wanda Barzee had come as a "very big shock" and added that she believed the 72-year-old remained a danger to her and to the community.

"She is a woman who had six children," Smart said of Barzee, "and yet co-conspired to kidnap a 14-year-old girl [Smart], and not only sit next to her while [Smart was] being raped, but encourage her husband to rape me.

"So, do I believe that she is dangerous?" Smart asked. "Yes, but not just to me. I believe that she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community."

Barzee is expected to be released from prison next week, 15 years after she pleaded guilty to helping former street preacher Brian David Mitchell kidnap Smart in 2002. She was convicted of both state and federal crimes, and was transferred to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after finishing a federal sentence in Texas.

Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole had denied Barzee early parole following a June hearing, which she chose not to attend. They said she had also had refused to take a psychological exam and set a release date in January 2024.

However, on Tuesday, officials announced Barzee had served her full sentence after crediting her time served in federal prison.

Smart, now a 30-year-old child safety activist and mother of two, acknowledged Thursday that "it does not seem that there is any viable legal recourse" to challenge Barzee's release. However, she encouraged the woman's family to take steps to have her committed to a mental health facility.

Attorney Scott Williams has said that Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but that he's not concerned about her being a potential danger to the community.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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