Two Waukesha County lawmakers are joining other state legislators in decrying what they say is a light sentence for woman convicted of child abuse in the deaths of her infant twins.
In September 2011, Melody Butt's twin girl and boy were in a bathtub and drowned after the East Troy woman admitted she had fallen asleep. Her husband came home to find the two children unresponsive.
On Tuesday, a Walworth County judge sentenced her to one year in jail with work-release privileges and 14 years of probation — a sentence that even her husband didn't think was harsh enough, according to FOX 6 News.
State Rep. Dave Craig (R-Vernon) and state Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) joined five other lawmakers in sending a letter to Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary Gary Hamblin and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson basically condemning the sentence.
"We are writing you today to express our grave concern and anguish over a matter which we believe calls for further scrutiny and review by both agencies you lead," the letter stated.
"As you may know, a horrific tragedy occurred last year in East Troy, Wisconsin, where two innocent young children died as a result of the gross negligence and irresponsible actions of their mother. As many of us are parents, we were deeply troubled by the lack of care for these precious lives and heartbroken after learning more of this case and the conditions in which these children were raised."
The lawmakers said they felt that the sentence, handed down by Walworth County Circuit Court Judge David Reddy, fell "well short of a suitable response to such a heinous act."
Butt pleaded guilty to felony child neglect charges and could have been sentenced to a lengthy term in prison, along with significant fines, they explained. In addition, her rights to her other young children could have been revoked entirely.
"Unfortunately, that did not occur. Instead, the mother will only serve one year in a work-release program, retain her rights to visit the surviving children, and serve 14 years on probation," they wrote.
They asked the secretaries to review the case to determine "why the system failed these innocent children," and to outline what involvement the agencies would have in overseeing Butt's surviving children.
"We understand anything we do will neither bring those children back, nor alleviate the pain so many have endured," the letter concluded. "But we have a responsibility to seek answers to these tragedies and determine how we, as a state, can improve the manner in which such cases are handled, and how we can better protect our children."