Among the roughly 6,500 denizens of the Utah State Prison system, virtually all will be released some day.
A rare few will never get out — those serving “natural life” in correctional parlance, others sentenced to life without parole, and death row inmates.
This week the state Board of Pardons added to that rare group a Box Elder County man convicted of the kidnapping and rape of a 6-year-old Corinne girl 16 years ago.
After his May 9 parole hearing, the full board voted unanimously June 3 for a sentence of natural life for Stanley Allen Smith, 46, meaning he will finish his days in the Utah State Prison, pardons spokesman Jim Hatch said.
Currently about 50 inmates are serving natural life terms ordered by the board, he said, while about 27 have been sentenced to life without parole by judges. Another 10 wait on death row.
After a jury conviction on four first-degree felony charges in the knifepoint abduction of the little girl off her bicycle at a school playground and subsequent rape in his car, Smith was sentenced to consecutive terms of 15 years to life.
That amounted to a total sentence of 60 years to life, later cut back to 15 to life on appeal. The Utah Supreme Count called the sentence likely unconstitutional since it didn’t give pardons officials a chance to even consider Smith’s potential rehabilitation.
The little girl required surgery to her genitalia from the attack, with doctors warning she might never be able to have children.
Family members called it a miracle when the now 22-year-old woman found out in January she was pregnant.
“Another really healing thing for her,” said her mother was going to Smith’s parole hearing.
The process of putting down on paper what she wanted to say to the board and Smith helped her realize she was impacted by the 1993 attack, said the girl’s mother and grandmother, speaking on her behalf.
They said she always claimed she was fine since she had no memory of the attack, completely blocked out of her memory even today.
“The hearing was actually a blessing in disguise because she got to say (to Smith) ‘I’m 22 years old and I cannot go to the grocery store alone and only now have I realized why,'” said her grandmother.
They were amazed to see the hearing officer, Jan Nichols, moved to tears during the hearing in reading the account of the abduction, rape and sodomy. Hearing officers do not by policy comment on hearings or their decisions.
Nichols also became visibly irate at Smith when he claimed only two rape victims in his life, family members said of the hearing, the 1993 case and a prior incident for which he was jailed.
Nichols then noticed that Smith’s five or more other victims, cases uncharged, included his own sister, they said.
Box Elder prosecutors had other rape cases under consideration for Smith at the time, but after his 60 to life sentence, they weren’t pursued since nothing would likely be added to his already heavy sentence.
In 1993, Smith took the 6-year-old to a secluded area 10 miles west of Corinne where he repeatedly sodomized and raped her. He then drove her back to Corinne where neighors found her bloodied and running along a street.
Though traumatized, she was able to describe the attack in enough detail to quickly lead investigators to Smith and his car, which was full of overwhelming physical evidence.
“I’m so excited,” said the victim’s mother of Smith’s sentence.
“It couldn’t be better. He’s right where he should be. … We don’t have to have the fact that he’s going to get out someday looming over our heads. I think there is such a thing as closure.”