In a story that seems almost too gruesome to be real, Genene Jones of Texas was sentenced in 1985 for an incomprehensible crime. Jones is said to have killed anywhere from 11 to 47 babies while she worked as a nurse.
Jones is set to be released from prison in 2017 as part of an old Texas “mandatory release” law which was originally created to address the problem of overcrowding. This law states that criminals sentenced between 1977 and 1987 can be eligible for early release based on good behavior.
The Huffington Post says it was “an effort to ‘play god’ that caused her she to inject infants with poison” and then later try to revive them so she would be praised as a hero. She was found to have used injections of digoxin, heparin and later succinylcholine to bring on medical crises in the babies. While she was able to revive some of her patients, many babies did not survive the first bout with the aggressive medications, and could not be saved. The medications she used cause heart paralysis when given in extreme.
No one knows the actual number of babies that were killed by Jones because the hospital, Bexar County Hospital (now called The University Hospital of San Antonio) was afraid of a mass publicity scandal, and subsequently trashed the medical records.
Jones was convicted of the murder of 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan in 1985, and then later was sentenced to a concurrent term of 60 years in prison for almost overdosing Rolando Jones with heparin. She is believed to have killed close to 50 babies from 1971 to 1984. Jones was initially sentenced to serve 99 years in prison.
Jones is also said to be the inspiration behind the Annie Wilkes character from Stephen King’s Misery.
Petti McClellan, the mother of Chelsea McClellan, says while she never thought it would really happen, she was “scared” Jones would be released. “Until now, I never worried about her getting out,” says McClellan.
This story brings up several difficult questions. Does the cost of housing a prisoner outweigh the need for a convicted murderer to serve the appointed time? can “good behavior” ever make up for murder?
A mind that is capable of committing such horrendous acts had to be mental incapacitated in some way, and I’m not sure a prison term would change that. There has been no word on what kind of rehabilitation and therapy she received while in jail, but you have to wonder if it was enough to mandate that she be allowed back in the general public again.
I can see the idea of good behavior working on much less severe cases that didn’t involve murder, but in this case, it is an outrage.