Dr. Stephen Montgomery, a forensic psychiatrist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said church could be a good starting point for Yates' return to life outside the hospital.
"It's always healthy for patients to be reintroduced into society, and church is a good support network and source of strength for many people," he said. "The only concern would be making sure she's no longer having any type of delusion that might affect her understanding of spiritual scripture."
After seven years of treatment, Parnham said Yates is "just as normal as you or I." He hopes conditional release for weekly church services will be the first step toward her one day living on her own and holding down a job.
"It's not like she's going be turned loose without any care or any way to support herself," he said, describing frequent outpatient checkups. "She will basically be under the spotlight if she's ever released."
John Hinckley, the man tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is currently allowed to leave St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. for 10-day stints to visit his mother's home in Virginia, closely monitored by the Secret Service. But in February, his attorney asked a district court judge to extend the stretch to 24 days and ultimately release him from the psychiatric facility. The judge is expected to make a decision by May.