Elizabeth Smart Speaks Out as One of Her Kidnappers Is Set To Be Released from Prison


“Forgive and forget” is a popular saying. It’s catchy. It’s easy to remember. It seems a nice, tidy way to put things, but really it can be damaging if it’s referring to anything more than a small accident.

“Forgetting” a bigger transgression can mean forcibly ignoring a pattern you’ve seen before that leads to disappointment and pain. It can mean knowingly making yourself vulnerable in ways that will hurt you. Sometimes it can mean letting the suffering you endured be repeated for other innocent people.

Elizabeth Smart is an advocate of forgiveness, but she’s adamant about not forgetting. Her case was extreme, as she was kidnapped and raped over a period of nine months when she was just 14, BuzzFeed News reported.

Brian David Mitchell may have been the one who kidnapped Smart, but his wife Wanda Barzee helped him keep Smart locked up, and approved and encouraged her husband’s evil actions.

Smart knows firsthand what kind of darkness Barzee is capable of, and was surprised to hear that her sentence — which was supposed to go through 2024 — was being shortened and that she’ll be released early.

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“I think people should realize that she is dangerous and that she did appalling things while I was in captivity,” Smart said, according to CNN.

“I know the depth of her depravity and so I feel like the community should be educated on it, but also, I think as a community, we need to once again take a second look at our judicial system.”

Smart also said that she knows Barzee was manipulated by her husband, but Barzee was also cruel in her own right and should be held accountable for her actions.

Do you think Wanda Barzee should be released early?

“I do believe she is a threat,” she continued. “She is a woman who had six children and yet co-conspired to kidnap a 14-year-old girl and not only sit next to her while being raped, but encourage her husband to continue to rape me.”

Apparently, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has recognized that Barzee has spent time in federal custody, and has decided to count that toward her overall time. Smart obviously does not agree with this decision and, while she has no power in this situation, she’s doing all she can to make her voice heard.

“I would urge the powers that be, and anyone who works under them, to really, strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel like she is no longer a threat and that she is ready to be released,” she said.

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“Wanda Barzee saw me as her slave. She called me her handmaiden and she never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known.”

Smart maintains that she’s forgiven Barzee, but she hasn’t forgotten what she’s done or what she’s capable of doing — and she isn’t interested in forgetting. In previous interviews, she’s alluded to the fact that she doesn’t want Barzee and Mitchell’s treatment to define who she is or determine her future, but she certainly doesn’t want to relive that nightmare.

“I don’t think forgiveness means allowing her back in my life,” Smart said of Barzee. “I also made the decision that I never wanted to see her again. I never wanted to think about her again, and I never most certainly wanted to talk to her ever again.”

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