Wildfire: Students debate prison sentence


Arguing that Refugio and Angelina Jimenez deserve their punishment for starting a 22,000-acre fire and killing a man feels like an easily agreeable position. However, it’s worth evaluating the social forces which would prompt people to engage in such stupid behavior.

The gender reveal party, or gender reveal photo shoot in this case, has been subject to much scrutiny on the internet and in the public eye in recent years. I think this is for good reason, as this social phenomenon seems to only ever lead to harm. Ignoring the fact that having a gathering to celebrate the arbitrary social standards placed upon a child is inherently weird, it will never be clear why some people will go to such extreme measures to do so.

Making fun of gender reveal parties has been done to death on social media, but it helps to understand why a couple would be driven to do such a potentially dangerous gender reveal. It seems as if people feel the desire to top others in terms of theatrics for these kinds of events. Perhaps they feel that they need to do something big in order to live up to the occasion. Whatever the case may be, these desires cloud people’s judgment in such situations.

Although people like the Jimenez’s can be misled by odd social pressures, this does not excuse their behavior or take away the need for consequences. While understanding the root cause of any social problem rather than viewing punishment as the end-all-be-all is important, the punishment placed upon the couple is fair and necessary. Such negligence can’t be defended, no matter what the couple’s intentions were.

As mentioned, mere punishments for gender reveals-gone-wrong are not enough to solve the issue of people doing dangerous stunts for dumb reasons. This behavior will hopefully continue to be socially deterred through society lessening its odd obsession with gender reveals as well as through teaching people safe ways to celebrate.





Gender reveal parties have been debated since their recent rise in popularity the last few years, with people contemplating everything from the inaccuracy of the gender binary, to the silliness and practice of revealing a child’s gender, to the environmental dangers that come with a clever pink or blue color reveal.

Refugio Jimenez Jr., the father who started a wide-spread wildfire back in 2020 for igniting an accidental blaze in an attempt to reveal the gender of his unborn child, has pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of recklessly causing a fire.

Jimenez now will be serving a year-long prison sentence on top of 200 hours of community service and two years of probation. 

Though it’s agreeable that some sort of legal action should be taken against the family, jail time seems too harsh. The couple never intended to set the fire and cause harm, as obvious with the involuntary manslaughter charge. 

This is not to say that they are completely innocent. Mother Angelina Jimenez has pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property of another. She was also sentenced to 400 hours of community service on top of one year of probation. 

The couple will also be required to pay $1,789,972 in victims’ restitution fees on top of their community service, their probation and Refugio Jimenez’s prison sentence. 

Angelina Jimenez’s sentence feels a lot more reasonable than Refugio Jimenez’s, who should not have received jail time in addition to paying restitution and his other sentences. 

The topic of gender reveal parties is another thing entirely, and I’m not necessarily defending them. Whether or not they happen is wholly dependent on the couple and their preferences. However, the bottom line is that Refugio Jimenez has wrongfully received a prison sentence. 




Featured photo courtesy of Alexandre P Junior, Pexels