Manson Follower Susan Atkins Dying, May Get Released From Prison

Susan Atkins has spent 37 years in prison for her role in the horrific murders of Sharon Tate and Gary Hinman. I've written a few times about why she should be paroled (same for Leslie Van Houton.)

Atkins is dying of brain cancer and had a leg amputated. With less than six months to live, she has received initial approval for compassionate release so she can die outside of prison.

Even former Manson prosecutor Vicent Bugliosi does not object:

"She has paid substantially, though not completely, for her horrendous crimes. Paying completely would mean imposing the death penalty," Bugliosi said. "But given that she has six months to live, and the loss of her leg, I don't have an objection to her being released."


More approvals are necessary before Atkins gets the final decision:

Her bid for release must still be approved by officials at the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Thornton said. A positive recommendation would send her case to the state Board of Parole, which would conduct an investigation and issue its own findings, she said. That hearing could include public comment.

A sentence of life with the possibility of parole, like that imposed on Atkins and Van Houton, is not the same thing as a sentence of life without parole.

Parole boards have a duty to consider more than just the severity of the offense. These two women, who have served 37 years each, have had model records of behavior while in prison and neither poses a current danger to society. By only considering the heinousness of the offense, their sentences have effectively been changed to life without parole.

Free Susan Atkins.

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    I heard Sharon Tate's mother comment (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by zfran on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:39:42 PM EST
    that she didn't give Sharon any special consideration when Sharon begged for her unborn baby's life. I feel as if she made her bed and must now lie in it, on the one hand, and on the other, she was led and controlled by a cultist, who said upon seeing her picture recently, gee she got old!! I gotta go with the mother's feeling here.

    Two different things. (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:57:49 PM EST
    Nothing will make things right for the mother.  I understand and have compassion for her feelings - and I'm sure she wants revenge.

    On the other hand...what is prison for?  Revenge?  Rehabilitation?  To protect society.

    The role of prison changes all the time (politics play a large role!).  I personally believe that it should be for rehabilitation for a large portion of the population - particularly first time offenders and those who demonstrate they have truly "changed" - these two women have done that.

    For others - repeat offenders, particularly - society does need to be protected by them.


    If brain cancer isn't punishment enough, (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Anne on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:44:20 PM EST
    after 37 years in prison, I'm hard-pressed to know what would be.

    I get that taking lives in the violent way in which the Manson Family did is indefensible, but I have never understood why we are better people or how we improve the universe by making a conscious decision to inflict intentional harm or distress on others to teach them a lesson or exact revenge.  

    If the people in power are as barbaric as those who commit the crimes, what have we accomplished and where does the cycle end?

    It's sad....I met Susan Atkins many years (none / 0) (#9)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:55:52 PM EST
    ago at Frontera Women's Prison...you would not guess she had taken part in those gruesome murders.  It is frightening to see how someone can come under the spell of someone and do their bidding with no thought of consequences...we continue to see these same kinds of things today.

    I am sure they will ensconce her in a halfway house where she can have some type of normal life before she meets her maker.


    whoa (none / 0) (#18)
    by tben on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:20:38 PM EST
    how is keeping a murderer in a warm cell, fed three squares a day, with all manner of rights short of being able to leave, equate to being as barbaric as a Mansonian murderer?

    I guess you have never been to prison?? (none / 0) (#73)
    by befuddledvoter on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:12:27 PM EST
    I don't know how people stand it.  I visit and practically hyperventilate.  Sometimes I am unknowingly locked up and then have to yell for the guard to unlock the door.  For those brief moments, I feel a tinge of panic.  Prison is so much more than three square meals a day.    

    this sends the wrong message (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by ChuckieTomato on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:36:48 PM EST
    people die in prison every day. So if Manson gets sick should we also give him early release? What about Tex Watson?

    SEVEN people were murdered by these people. One had just graduated high school and one was an un-born child. No opportunity to date, marry, have children. NOTHING. Not even the opportunity to say goodbye to their families.

    I believe she may be remorseful, but so what. Compassion, yes. Release, no.


    Your comparison of... (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:43:45 PM EST
    Akins to Manson and Watson is flawed in that Atkins and Van Houton have clearly been "rehabilitated".  Manson is still the psycho he went in as and who knows where in the world Watson is.

    But Atkins and Van Houton have been model prisoners and admitted their crimes.

    In the world of prisons, that makes a big difference.


    just because you admit to crime (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by ChuckieTomato on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:51:32 PM EST
    doesn't mean you don't have to be punished for it. For me, 37 years isn't enough for seven lives. Some people should be paroled, and some shouldn't, period.

    BTW how do you know she is rehabilitated? The parole board has continuously disagreed with that assertion. Can you ever be rehabilitated when you murder seven people? I'll trust their judgment.


    I look at the life she lead in prison. (none / 0) (#90)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:57:19 PM EST
    And the fact that the parole board denied her parole has no relationship to whether or not she has been rehabilitated.

    You may wish to believe that, but as an attorney who spent many a day at FCI Danbury, I can tell you the "system" is not gracious in any way, shape or form.


    Tex Watson.... (none / 0) (#87)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:48:24 PM EST
    Watson was tried separately from the others convicted in the murders. He was convicted, and sentenced to death on October 21, 1971. Watson escaped execution when the California Supreme Court's People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. Having been denied parole 13 times, Watson remains incarcerated to this day in Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) in Ione, California. His last hearing, which he did not attend, was in 2006. He received a maximum five-year denial. His next scheduled parole hearing is in September 2011, when he will be 65 years old and will have spent nearly two-thirds of his life in prison.

    In 1978, Watson wrote a book entitled Will You Die For Me?, and married Kristin Joan Svelte in 1979. They were able to have four children through conjugal visits. Largely through the lobbying of Doris Tate, mother of murder victim Sharon Tate, conjugal visits for imprisoned individuals convicted of murder were banned. Watson separated from and divorced his wife of 25 years in 2003. [2]

    Watson became a born-again Christian in prison and operates Abounding Love Ministries while incarcerated. He has written about his role in the murders and the sorrow he feels for his involvement, and has apologized to the family members of his victims on his website, stating that he believes he is "forgiven by God." His ministry and website have generated controversy regarding substantial income earned, and that this income was not reported by his then-wife, who had also received public benefits.


    Yup - Free Susan Atkins. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:45:09 PM EST
    It should have happened 10 years ago.  Sad.

    And while they're at it, Free Leslie Van Houton, too.

    Ditto (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:49:08 PM EST
    add Sara Jane Olson to the list.

    Anyone else? (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:45:59 PM EST
    I Am Sure That There Are Plenty (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:59:21 PM EST
    The length of sentences in the US are crazy. There is no reason to continue to jail people when they are clearly no longer a threat to society. In fact the Tookie Williams execution was sick, imo. He became an asset to society and was snuffed out. That makes no sense to me. I do not understand what the logic is in holding geriatric prisoners who are not a threat to anyone.

    They are also longer than the minimum guidelines set down by Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf last year - which gave a 16-year minimum for the worst murders; 12 years for "normal" murders and eight or nine years for those with mitigating circumstances.



    On condition the parolees be housed in (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:01:39 PM EST
    your neighborhood.  (half snark)

    No Problem (none / 0) (#41)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:11:09 PM EST
    The apt/loft prices are super high, but if they could swing it, I am sure that they would add more to my neighborhood than the stock brokers and bankers that have been moving in over the last several years.

    You are probably living next door to one (none / 0) (#75)
    by befuddledvoter on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:14:22 PM EST
    and don't even know it.  

    No Doubt (none / 0) (#78)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:21:05 PM EST
    I would have no problem with either... (none / 0) (#85)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:44:42 PM EST
    Atkins or Van Houton living next to me.  Bring 'em on!!!

    I'm sure the Manson victim would like (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by stefystef on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:50:26 PM EST
    to see her die in prison, but really, it's been so long and the woman is dying.  She spend her entire life in jail.  A few months free wouldn't diminish her payment to society.

    I said this in another post:

    I remember many years ago, Diane Sawyer did an interview with all the Manson girls and Charlie himself.

    A couple of things struck me... first, how those young girls, brainwashed and full of arrogance had become middle aged women who looked like soccer moms.

    The other thing that really struck me was when Diane was interviewing Charlie Manson, he had a chance to watch the interview with the Manson girls.  You know what he said???

    He said, "Damn, they got old".
    I couldn't believe my ears.  Can you believe that $%*(&???  Charles Manson- old, nasty, broken down and busted crazy bastard actually criticized these women for their look, like he didn't get old too.  He ruined so many lives.

    I hope the woman is let out to die with some dignity.  You can only punish so much.

    can we free Sharon Tate from her grave? (none / 0) (#74)
    by ChuckieTomato on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:13:07 PM EST
    let Susan stay in prison

    No (none / 0) (#76)
    by befuddledvoter on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:18:00 PM EST
    But leaving this woman to die in prison does nothing to bring Sharon Tate back. It does nothing for Tate's survivors either, even though they may think it does.  What does it say of us as a society to leave her to die in prison?  How does it make your life better?  What lesson is to be learned from this?  If you think that leaving her to die in prison sends a deterrent message, that is simply not the case.  This was a crazy case with crazy murders.  These people did not stop and ponder the implications of their actions and no crazy person ever will.    

    It isn't just Sharon Tate (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by ChuckieTomato on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:25:04 PM EST
    There was Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Steven Parent, Voytec Frykowski, the Labiancas and an un-born baby. She received more compassion than her victims when her death sentence was commuted.

    Or can we let them out of their graves to live an extra six months?


    The remaining Tate family will... (none / 0) (#88)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:50:32 PM EST
    have their retribution when Atkins dies of brain cancer - in or out of prison.

    It's time to "move-on".


    None (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Athena on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:52:11 PM EST
    I have no sympathy for any of the Manson family murderers.  Sorry.

    Athena....no need to be sorry....I totally (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:02:05 PM EST
    get your point.

    I understand, too. (5.00 / 0) (#36)
    by Shainzona on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:05:36 PM EST
    But I have had life experiences that made me a victim and the best thing I ever did was let go of it and (I hate to use this term) move-on.

    37 years is a long long time to live with the feelings (justified, I'm sure) of hate for any person.


    Better than the dreaded "get over it" (none / 0) (#94)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:15:37 PM EST
    if compassonate leave is given (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by hellothere on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:15:11 PM EST
    as a regular part of this type of jail term, then please let's treat her the same no more no less. personally i think compassion has a bigger application, but that's me.

    She already has a death sentence. (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Molly Pitcher on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:20:34 PM EST
    My niece died Tuesday of brain cancer.  Susan will need someone to care for her, for sure.

    To all who sent kind words, (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Molly Pitcher on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:40:27 PM EST
    Thank you!  Still more than a bit raw--she was a fine person, ground down by a deadly invader.

    Heartfelt condolences to you (none / 0) (#24)
    by Lil on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:46:32 PM EST
    This is turning out to be a sad week.

    Difficult times for you and your family. (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:46:55 PM EST
    MollyP....sorry for your loss....be strong (none / 0) (#34)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:04:17 PM EST
    So Sorry Molly (none / 0) (#51)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:17:14 PM EST
    Peace to your niece and you and your family.

    Very sorry to hear that, Molly. (none / 0) (#60)
    by pie on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:28:17 PM EST
    The sister of a good friend also died recently of a brain tumor.  

    My sister-in-law's older brother, a doctor with a pregnant wife and two young daughters, died almost three years ago.  She had a baby boy before he died, and at the end, said she had four children.  It was very sad.

    Make the most of the time you have.  I'm glad Russert had some downtime with his family in Italy, at least.  More exercise might have been a good idea, too.


    Sympathies (none / 0) (#98)
    by Athena on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:47:49 PM EST
    So sorry for your loss, Molly.

    Molly, I am so sorry (none / 0) (#105)
    by otherlisa on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 12:02:22 AM EST
    I've had several people close to me die of brain cancer. It's a wretched disease.

    Just heard Bugliosi (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by Lil on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:45:26 PM EST
    this morning talking about The Prosecution of George Bush, and I wondered how this woman was doing, and here you have it. Stange.

    I remember as a kid being really scared of the Manson story, and I had only heard dribs and drabs, because I was so young. Then I saw a tv program where they interviewed Atkins and she seemed very rehabilitated and helped a lot of other women in prison turn their lives around. Sad story all the way around.  It may have been 60 minutes, not sure.

    Those murders were truly horrific. (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by pie on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:00:07 PM EST
    and I should have never watched Helter Skelter.  I still can't listen to that song without thinking of Manson and the violent acts committed by him and his followers.  

    It's hard to believe people could be driven to do something like that, but it happens often enough that I shouldn't be surprised.  

    She doesn't have much in the way of quality of life left and should at least breathe some fresh air and have a glimpse of the life she gave up before she dies, even if it is in a hospital.

    That movie (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:19:55 PM EST
    gave me nightmares for a week after watching it. Even to this day, when some journalist decides to interview Manson, he makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

    I've never read the book, and never seen (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by MarkL on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:21:46 PM EST
    the movie, but watching Manson has that effect on  me, as well.

    I read the book a long time ago (none / 0) (#62)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:31:58 PM EST
    but the story still gives me the chills.  They went over a lot of it again in the Roman Polanski documentary the over night on HBO. Atkins might have a harder time getting that parole with that wound reopened.

    According to the LA Times article I (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:03:24 PM EST
    linked to above, Ms. Atkins is currently being housed at a hospital, not at CIW.  

    Is it a prison hospital? (none / 0) (#39)
    by pie on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:09:17 PM EST
    Otherwise, why the talk of release?

    CIW does not have an inpatient hospital; thus (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:11:50 PM EST
    Ms. Atkins is at a community hospital, but "in custody."  

    So they'll remove the handcuffs from the bed. (none / 0) (#45)
    by pie on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:13:31 PM EST
    That's nice.

    What a life.  Ugh.


    As an Irishwoman (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by oldpro on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:13:46 PM EST
    I can well understand wanting personal revenge against an individual or group who hurt me, family or friend.

    What I cannot understand is the inability - the unwillingness - to separate one's personal feelings from the thoughtful making of public policy where the government (or its agents) exacts a price for misbehavior.

    I do not want a government, a police officer or a prosecutor who treats crime as a personal affront, whose emotions are engaged in the outcome of the legal process.  That only leads to the necessity of the Innocense Project, etc.

    It's about (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:14:26 PM EST
    repentance and responsiblity. I'm not going to defend anything Atkins did. I certainly was reprehensible. That being said, she has at least tried to atone for what she didn. Ayers has no remorse for what he has done and has even said he should have done more.

    I would support parole in this case (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:26:41 PM EST
    since she has done so much to help other women while in prison. I don't see how justice is further served by keeping her in custody while she is dying.

    As for Manson's comments about the 'girls' looking old, perhaps the best thing that could be said about him is that he was always at base a misogynist. It went downhill from there.

    For those who can't see (5.00 / 2) (#79)
    by frankly0 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:23:38 PM EST
    allowing Susan Atkins the opportunity to die outside of prison under her current circumstances, I suggest you might consider that even when the death penalty is exacted, and no matter how heinous the act being punished, we do allow the prisoner some comforts right before his or her death, including a last meal.

    Perhaps releasing Susan Atkins for her final days might be considered an extension of that kind of mercy.

    Jeralyn, Gabriele, Valhalla, Mark (5.00 / 1) (#106)
    by otherlisa on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 12:09:36 AM EST
    And others (I'd have to go back and look at the whole thread again) - I really appreciate your comments here. I am against the death penalty and I think it is time to show Susan Atkins some compassion as well.

    Nothing could bring back the lives she helped to take, I realize that. But what kind of a life has she had as a consequence of her actions?

    Brain cancer can be a very tough way to go. She probably doesn't have much time left as it is. How does it hurt us, as a society, to exercise mercy and compassion, as well as justice?

    compassion for family (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by vigi on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 01:04:47 AM EST
    The compassionate release Susan's doctors filed will not really effect Susan. Because of her condition she will most likely never leave the hospital. What the release will do is allow Susan's family members; mother-in-law, sisters-in law, brother and neices a chance to visit the hospital and make our good byes. I realize this is a luxury not afforded the victim's families, I also don't believe causing more pain helps anything. Susan has done all that is humanly possible to make living amends for her actions (I know I'm a completely different person than I was 37 years ago and so is she). I am not defending her. The crimes were horrific.  Crime is a no win situation -certainly for the victim's family's, but also for the convict's  family.I just want to hug my big sister of 22 years and say good bye. Without the compassionate release, I am unable to have any contact with her.  

    Does she have family (none / 0) (#2)
    by DJ on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:41:42 PM EST
    or someone to take care of her?  Some place to go?

    Also, will she have medical care (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 06:53:21 PM EST
    if paroled?  MediCal I guess.

    I believe she is married to her lawyer (none / 0) (#47)
    by ruffian on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:14:26 PM EST
    vigi (none / 0) (#109)
    by vigi on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 02:21:35 AM EST
    Susan is married to her lawyer. They had been married for over a decade when he decided to enter Harvard Law School so he could represent her himself.

    family (none / 0) (#108)
    by vigi on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 02:16:28 AM EST
    Susan does have family. One condition of compassionate release is the inmate must have family will ung and able to care for the convict upon release.

    who was the woman? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Josey on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:00:24 PM EST
    that thought she was leaving prison recently and had to serve more time.
    Was she part of the Manson murders?

    Sarah Jane Olson. She was an active (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:02:21 PM EST
    participant in the Symbionese Liberation, the group that kidnapped Patty Heart.  

    TL Coverage (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:05:27 PM EST
    thank you (none / 0) (#20)
    by Josey on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:38:55 PM EST
    Here is LA Times article, which (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:04:31 PM EST
    details Atkins actions and statements re her of the pregnant Sharon Tate.  Also, Atkins married the attorney who represented her at a parole board hrg. in the past.  He says she will likely be hospitalized whether incarcarated or paroled.

    LA Times

    Jeralyn, reading your previous thoughts on (none / 0) (#16)
    by Valhalla on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:19:03 PM EST
    Atkins and Van Houghton, it sounds like the Governor would still be able to veto the Board's decision.  Is that right in this case?

    If so I wonder if there's any chance she'll ever get out, given most people's thoughts the Manson murders and just letting murderers out of prison.  It seems politically fairly risk (despite Bugliosi's statement).

    Given her medical condition... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 07:43:17 PM EST
    ... and the amount of time she's served, I wouldn't really object to her being paroled. But really, of all the people in prison in this country, there have to be others more deserving of compassion than the Manson family.

    What are the terms by which (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by ahazydelirium on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:42:11 PM EST
    we decide who receives and who is denied compassion?

    I sure don't know... (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:57:16 PM EST
    ... but there are millions of people in American prisons. Most committed crimes not as horrific as the Manson killings, I'm sure some of them have also been model prisoners, and lacking the celebrity status, they receive little attention. I just think there are probably better candidates for sympathy.

    That is almost certainly true (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Valhalla on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:39:38 PM EST
    but denying Atkins compassion does not help any of them.  

    It's an argument for extending compassion, or justice (for those imprisoned out of proportion with their crimes), but it's not an argument for penalizing Atkins.


    Compassion by the numbers (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by Gabriele Droz on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:30:21 PM EST
    Someone needs to have the guts to come out with some statistics on that.  Just to show how laughable this argument is.  Compassion is compassion.

    When someone is dying, no matter where they come from or what they did, it is time to show compassion, period.

    I wouldn't depend on the legal system nor pollsters or studies to dictate the terms.


    So you think... (none / 0) (#83)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:42:25 PM EST
    ... that John Gotti should have been let out when he was dying?

    Your argument seems to favor release regardless of severity of crime or even sincerity of repentance. I can be persuaded in Atkins case, because she does seem to have tried to make things better as much as possible, and she has served a long time. But I won't even consider going that far.


    Yes, I actually do. (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by Gabriele Droz on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:48:03 PM EST
    In my opinion, the only way to create compassion is by showing and living it.  And if we can't show it to someone on their deathbed, how can we promote it at all?  Don't we want them to understand why compassion is so important in life?  What possible threat do they present while they are dying?

    It comes back to the question asked previously in this thread: do we want revenge, punishment, safety, or justice - four potent questions wrapped into one.


    Great comment. (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by MarkL on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 09:58:35 PM EST
    I'm reminded of the horrifying spectacle of Eugene Volokh practically wetting himself with excitement over the spectacle of an Iranian execution in which the family members were allowed to torture the criminal before he was executed.
    Volokh thought this was a fabulous concept which should be imported here.
    Whatever society may lose in retributive power by meting out justice in a civilized fashion must be weighed against the value of taming the beast that is in everyone.
    For me, incarceration is punishment enough.

    I'll just say I disagree... (none / 0) (#92)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:02:03 PM EST
    ... and leave it at that.

    Yes, I even still have (5.00 / 2) (#96)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:33:13 PM EST
    and wear my "Free John Gotti" t-shirt I got a decade ago at the Feast of San Gennaro festival in Little Italy.

    There's a place and a time for outrage. (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by Gabriele Droz on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:56:02 PM EST
    And there's a place and time for forgiveness.  Especially right before one's forthcoming death.

    It's such an important time (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by Gabriele Droz on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 11:01:19 PM EST
    to let us all know that we are forgiving in the end.

    How else can we change directions?  Strict punishments only perpetuate the hostility.


    O/T...DA Burgher, like Hamilton Burgher (none / 0) (#32)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:02:59 PM EST
    from Perry Mason?

    Thanks for the info.....boy was I way off :( (none / 0) (#93)
    by PssttCmere08 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:14:20 PM EST
    Jeralyn, according to Vincent Bugliosi (none / 0) (#57)
    by ding7777 on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:22:55 PM EST
    Atkins received the death penalty but the state Supreme Court commuted death sentences to life.

    So where did you get the "possibility of parole" from?  

    A sentence of life with the possibility of parole, like that imposed on Atkins and Van Houton, is not the same thing as a sentence of life without parole

    her sentence is life with the possibility of parol (none / 0) (#100)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:51:49 PM EST
    she was not sentenced to life without parole. She and Leslie Van Houten have met the parole board over a dozen times each and been denied despite their accomplishments in prison and rehabilitation because of the heinousness of the crimes.

    Her sentence is life with the possibility of parole.


    Family members connected (none / 0) (#65)
    by ahazydelirium on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:38:58 PM EST
    to heinous crimes sometimes believe the perpetrators should receive leniency and compassion. It's not unheard of, by any means. You generalize greatly on two counts: (1) a family member will always experience violent, aggressive outrage towards the person who committed the act; (2) a framework for a justice system should be extrapolated from this "truth." Basing a judicial system on the feelings of those left behind (particularly feelings of revenge) is NOT a just(ice) system.

    Not Just Family Members (none / 0) (#69)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 08:49:07 PM EST
    But also those who were victims of crimes. The truth and reconciliation process while not perfect, is a great example of how some can come to compassion and forgiveness which allows for a better life than one driven by hate and the desire for revenge.

    jeralyn, i believe you've (none / 0) (#95)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:23:20 PM EST
    dug yourself into a bit of a hole. on the one hand, you champion the use of LWOP in lieu of the death penalty. i agree wholeheartedly. however, i assumed you actually meant LWOP, not L sort of WOP. it either is or isn't, you can't have it both ways.

    frankly, i have little sympathy for the members of the manson gang; they knew exactly what they were doing when the did it. they knew it was wrong when they did it. they did it with no hesitation and no remorse.

    it's unfortunate ms. atkins has terminal brain cancer. ms. tate, the lobiancas, et al, didn't get 37 more years, and there is absolutely nothing she can do to change that. make her comfortable, provide pain killers, but keep her in jail where she rightly belongs.

    people die in jail every day of the week, what makes her so special?

    not at all (none / 0) (#101)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 13, 2008 at 10:54:40 PM EST
    Yes, I support life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty. But that's not the sentence Atkins or Van Houten received. They received life with the possibility of parole. I favor that as well, and in fact prefer it.

    support you and your campaign for LWOP instead of the DP. Because in reality you're not a LWOP supporter, as you said you actually prefer LWP.

    In fact, it's pretty clear you would prefer any non-life sentence to LWP. And you would prefer 30 years to 40 years, and 20 years to 30 years.

    iow, there's no end to it.

    You use LWOP as a tool, you actually don't want it at all.


    i could be horribly mistaken, (none / 0) (#110)
    by cpinva on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 06:53:14 AM EST
    But what kind of a life has she had as a consequence of her actions?

    but i believe that's the point of incarceration. as a consequence of your own actions, you give up the right to have a "life", for whatever period of time you've been sentenced to.

    i'm curious jeralyn, what level of heinousness would qualify, in your mind, for permanent incarceration, till the day they bury you, regardless of what you do on the inside of jail?

    "Pose no threat?" (none / 0) (#111)
    by jefered on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 08:13:00 AM EST
    Whether or not someone poses a threat to society is a thin standard on which to base the term of someone's incarceration. Prison (speaking as someone who has been incarcerated) isn't entirely about protecting society from evil people. Most of the people I called friends in prison were no threat to society, just willing participants in the destruction of their own lives.

    If Susan Atkins is to be paroled based on age and health, we need to be prepared to apply the same standards to other aged felons, not just pop icons who don't look all that scary.

    go free? (none / 0) (#112)
    by eyrewoman on Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 08:53:54 AM EST
    I think this killer is getting a luxury she did not give to S. Tate.  Some of the compassionate people on this website should maybe familiarize themselves with the psychotic brutality of these crimes. If we release any Manson followers for any reason than we better be ready to release all criminals who would hang up a pregnant woman and cut a baby out of her...for Kicks...or for "Charlie"?  I say let her die in prison.  She at least has time to make peace with her death and is probably given pain killers etc.  Anyone think of Sharon T's psychological and physically painful death?

    death row conversions (none / 0) (#114)
    by diogenes on Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 10:02:07 PM EST
    Everyone acts like a good citizen when they're a lifer or on death row and hoping to somehow get parole.  
    Why don't we put all the lifers without parole and death row inmates in GITMO, let them run their own society, drop food by helicopter, and let liberal vols go in and out to do doctoring, etc.  No need for prison guards. That would be a good way to phase out GITMO for the alleged terrorists.

    So, its all written in stone: (none / 0) (#123)
    by jondee on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:19:26 PM EST
    killers are born, real live he-ros like you and Cheney were meant to be that way and nothing and nobody ever changes.

    I am a brain tumor Survivor -- (none / 0) (#115)
    by DrNick on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:37:41 PM EST
    --and I support the cancer victim!  

         I am not an unfeeling or uncaring person. If anything, I am too feeling I am also a two-time brain cancer survivor. My heart goes out to anyone who must battle this disease. Unlike Sharon Stone, I do not believe our judgement is dealt to us on this realm but on a higher plane. Susan Atkins was spared the death penalty by an unconventional legality that prevented her sentence from being carried out. This is also true of her co-defendants in the Tate-LoBianca Murders. I am not an advocate of the death penalty any more than I am an advocate of murder or killing an expectant mother and her unborn baby with intentional maliciousness. In all these years has Atkins determined the appropriate penitence for her crime?  Why must it be left to us? Is toilet cleaning equal to what she did? She not only committed murder but she followed her wickedness with psychological torture on the victims families throughout her trial. Everyone finds God in jail. Sometimes, I am sure criminals are the only ones going to heaven. You know, it is no small irony that Sharon Tate's mother, Doris Tate died of a brain tumor, also. She fought her entire life to keep her daughter's murderer's in prison for their rest of their lives.  Maybe Mama is having the final say in this matter. I think that is the voice to remember, To me, the verdict is clear, Doris has made the statement. She attended all of the parole hearings and did this in honor of her daughter's memory. This one is for Doris.
    This brain tumor survivor stands for Doris Tate!

    Let Doris speak for herself: (none / 0) (#116)
    by DrNick on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:48:26 PM EST
    "You can't make sense out of the innocent slaughter of Sharon and the other victims. The most that I, or any person touched by violence, can hope for is acceptance of the pain. You never forget it, not even with the passage of time. But, if, in my work, I can help transform Sharon's legacy from murder victim to a symbol for victims' rights, I will have accomplished what I set out to do."
    -Doris Tate
    (January 19, 1924-July 10, 1992)

    Susan Atkins' Possible Parole (none / 0) (#117)
    by dynamic on Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:40:28 PM EST
    I understand that some people are interested in doing the right thing, forgiveness, etc., but please do not think that people are automatically unforgiving if they oppose the release of this woman. I vehemently oppose her release and here is why:
    Take a look at the gory crime scene photos. They are horrible! Completely innocent people were butchered, not that anyone would deserve such treatment. Please consider that Ms. Atkins had a criminal record before she ever got involved with the Manson gang. Also, she never showed any of her victims any compassion whatsoever, even a terrified pregnant woman, just days away from giving birth, who was begging for the life of that innocent unborn baby. She laughed at her trial, even while describing the killings. Laughed! Laughed in front of her victims' families! Talk about adding insult to injury...
    She has changed her story several times, wavering back and forth on her level of guilt, even saying she did not kill anybody. But most of all, I do not think it is up to us regular folks to dish out forgiveness for her. Think of the horror her victims' families went through. If one of your loved ones(especially a heavily pregnant relative) was killed in such a merciless, brutal way, would you be rushing to let this person out? I think not. The only living member of the Tate family is Sharon's younger sister Debra, and she has picked up where their mother left off. I will never know the horror that poor woman went through, but I will gladly help in keeping her daughter's killers behind bars. I have already written a letter to the parole board asking that Ms. Atkins be kept an inmate.
    For everyone who thinks imprisoning someone for a long time is cruel, please remember why that person is in there in the first place. Shall we just release all murderers? Maybe then, all of us innocent people would become their victims. Yes, we want to live in a world free of crime, but that is not going to happen by forgiving psychopathic killers. I do not feel sorrow for her, and I am not rejoicing in her illness. She will definitely have a much easier death than any of the people she so viciously murdered.

    FLIP SIDE (none / 0) (#118)
    by thdcomments on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 04:20:47 PM EST
    To those who believe good is good and bad is bad, I have only one comment, i.e. there is always a flip side to the coin.

    A lot of you assumed Sharon Tate and all of Susan's victims are good people, and productive to the world. Have you ever realized that Sharon was one of the revolutionary actresses who pioneered into entertainments which contain full of sexual contents and dirty languages? As much as I desparately seek a way to effectively prevent my kids from being affected by such dehumanizing products, I really believe those who, because of financial motivation, imported that kind of evil into our country back in the late 60's are the root cause.

    Yes, Susan did kill the physical lives of many people, which was cruel and bad. But Sharon Tate did and would have killed a lot more spiritual lives of the innocent victims such as my 2 baby girls. Without Sharon's active participation in the X movies, our kids are much better protected.

    I wish the best to both the Tate family and Susan. I pray that both Sharon and Susan will become friends in the Paradise one day.

    Are you kidding??? (none / 0) (#119)
    by momof3 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 04:36:05 AM EST
    You can teach your children to stay away from drugs, alchol, and porn. How do you you teach them to avoid a killer that breaks into their homes, kills their friends, and then kills them and an unborn child? I was a little girl when that happened, and still remember the news on every channel, the newsman crying, and the papers reporting the toll it took on Roman Polanski. I would worry more about Madonna, and Britney Spears if I were you. Or do you think that they deserve to be murdered along with their children too??

    She already got a reprieve in this life (none / 0) (#122)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:13:36 PM EST
    She GOT her life.  Had the California Supreme Court not ruled the death penalty against the California constitution, she would have been executed years ago.  She already got many extra years she shouldn't have had, according to the law.

    Let her stay in prison.