Parole Board Recommends Parole for Leslie van Houten

Is the 20th time the charm for former Charles Manson follower Leslie van Houten, imprisoned since 1969 for the La Bianca murders? The parole board in California today agreed to recommend she be granted parole. Although she has been a minor inmate, her prior 19 requests were denied. The final decision will be up to Gov. Jerry Brown.

I've supported her parole here on TalkLeft since 2002. [More..]

I wrote then:

This year the Judge ordered the Board to give her a new hearing and to consider her model prison behavior and not just the severity of the offense. If only the severity of the crime were considered, her sentence effectively would be a life sentence without parole, instead of the parole-eligible life sentence she received. The board has been ordered to tell Van Houten what it is she must do to get if they deny her again.

If a sentence of life with parole (as opposed to life without parole) has any meaning, she should be released.

Free Leslie van Houten. She's done enough time.

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    I'm with you Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 08:00:18 PM EST
    Well said - if there is to be such a thing as life with a chance of parole, she has earned it.

    I hope the authorities have the courage to rise above the emotion of this case, see her role in it, and what punishment she has accepted, and call it enough.

    Back in the 1960s (none / 0) (#13)
    by ragebot on Sat Apr 16, 2016 at 10:52:33 PM EST
    William F. Buckley Jr. wrote an interesting article about crime and punishment.  He said parts of our system were completely backwards. He gave the example of how if a man finds his wife cheating and kills the offending man the punishment is quite severe while if someone is a pickpocket the punishment is relatively mild.

    The thing is killing someone for cheating with your spouse is unlikely to be repeated while a pickpocket may well have no other skills and is likely to return to a life of crime.  Maybe this is an oversimplification but the point is that many petty crimes are often not punished, or there is little punishment while more serious crimes that are unlikely to be repeated are harshly punished.

    I doubt once Manson was in jail any of his family would go out and kill folks, especially if they served even five or ten years in jail.  I would also argue they were suffering from diminished capacity (due to drugs and Manson's strange ability to control folks).

    Problem is how horrible the crime was.  I really have no position one way or the other on letting her out.  But as someone posted below (and this is a problem with lots of folks who get out of prison) she really has no marketable skills and little chance of being able to ever get above the poverty line.  I remember in the Shawshank Redemption how Brooks Hatlen wound up after his release and wonder what will happen in this case.


    Thanks (none / 0) (#14)
    by TrevorBolder on Sun Apr 17, 2016 at 05:58:26 AM EST
    I couldn't remember the name,

    Brooks was here.


    That was a movie. (none / 0) (#15)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Apr 17, 2016 at 05:37:44 PM EST
    This is real life in real time. And honestly, we don't know how skilled or unskilled Van Houten is. For all we know, she may have educated herself while incarcerated. Nor do we know whether there are family members willing to take her in, so let's please not make such statements about her prospective consignment to poverty without knowing the relevant facts.

    Anyway, let's not get too far ahead of events here, because Gov. Brown has yet to signal his intentions in this case. And given that he rejected the Board's findings the last time a Manson family member received their recommendation for parole, any such speculation regarding Van Houten's future is entirely predicated upon a prospective gubernatorial approval which may or may not be forthcoming.



    i heard... (none / 0) (#16)
    by linea on Sun Apr 17, 2016 at 05:53:25 PM EST
    she completed a masters degree
    dont know in what

    i never head of her (none / 0) (#2)
    by linea on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 08:01:16 PM EST
    i had to wiki her. i heard of Squeaky Fromme. wiki says Squeaky "was released on parole on August 14, 2009, after serving 34 years." why would Leslie be in jail 8 years longer? doesnt really seem fair.

    Lynette Fromme was convicted of ... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 08:28:31 PM EST
    ... the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in September 1975, for having pointed a pistol at him while he was pressing the flesh in a Sacramento rope line and pulled the trigger. (The gun had four rounds in it, but there was no cartridge in the chamber.)

    Leslie Van Houten was convicted of first degree murder for having been a direct participant in the Manson Family's slaughter of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, during which she stabbed Mrs. LaBianca 14 times while the victim was being held down.

    Not to excuse or minimize an attempted presidential assassination, but Fromme didn't kill anybody, whereas Van Houten did.



    oh. thank you. (none / 0) (#4)
    by linea on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 08:50:26 PM EST
    i thought they were both "manson family" and convicted of the same thing. {smile}

    still, she was 19 years old and high on LSD and being abused and controlled by charles manson.  it's so long ago - i never even heard of her.  she's 66 now.  just seems rediculous to me to keep her locked up.  just keep charles manson locked up.  at this point it's almost like she's one of the lingering victims of that guy's psycopathy.


    your views are being echoed (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 10:28:37 PM EST
    by many writers & reporters who have followed this story from the beginning, even those who have been the most adamant "law & order" types, the ones who had been unwavering, "lock'm up, and, throw away the keys,"types.

    Even they are saying enough is enough, and that Leslie van Houten,
     above all the others, has honestly & convincingly shown a sincere rehabilitation. (at least as much of a rehabilitation as someone who has admitted committing multiple homicides can be expected to.)

    As long as she was convicted, and sentenced to "Life," and not, "LWOP," its time to show our humanity. One thing is certain, she can do much more good for society being out on parole than remaining locked up in what could only be explained as retribution above and beyond what Americans should stand for.


    retribution or justice (3.00 / 2) (#6)
    by nyjets on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 10:50:36 PM EST
    She did commit a brutal and violent murder. Any amount of so called rehabilitation she has done is nothing when measured against the crime that she committed.

    rehabilitation? (none / 0) (#7)
    by linea on Thu Apr 14, 2016 at 11:14:56 PM EST
    i thought we went from imprisonment as punishment (in the early english model) to penance (penitentiaries) to rehabilitation and skill training (reformatories) to the modern theory of warehousing.  at least, that's how i remember it from a sociology course at university.

    as i understand warehousing theory, the point is to remove criminals from society to protect people from the inherent predatory natures of criminals.  don't see how keeping her locked up at this point fits with warehousing theory.  is anyone actually arguing that there is ANY risk of her going on an LSD-fueled murder spree? seriously?


    puishment is still part of jail (1.00 / 1) (#8)
    by nyjets on Fri Apr 15, 2016 at 05:28:17 AM EST
    Punishment is still part of the reason why we put people in prison. And her crime certain question whether rehabilitation make any difference.

    Lock 'em up and bill the taxpayer (none / 0) (#9)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Apr 15, 2016 at 05:23:27 PM EST
    is the modern "enlightened" model.

    confused by the snarc (none / 0) (#10)
    by linea on Fri Apr 15, 2016 at 09:22:13 PM EST
    as opposed to what? cutting the hands off of thieves and weekly executions in the public square?

    At her age (66), I'd like to think that ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Apr 15, 2016 at 10:19:42 PM EST
    ... the likelihood of Van Houten's once again dropping acid and going on another murder spree are infinitesimally remote. As I said in an earlier Open Thread when I first posted this news:

    "While I appreciate that people do change and can turn their lives around, the recommendation of parole in this case is not one which I would have made personally, given the particularly heinous nature of the original offense. But I respect the panel's findings and decision because it's their job to make these sorts of assessments and not mine, and I will trust Gov. Brown's final judgment in this matter. If he's cool with it, then so am I."

    And I mean that, sincerely. I know that I don't appreciate those persons who've immediately started questioning my professional judgment and integrity because I've submitted a finding or recommendation which runs counter to their preferred narrative or opinion. So in that regard, I refuse to second-guess the members of the California Board of Parole Hearings for doing their job.



    From George Vreeland Hill (none / 0) (#12)
    by George Vreeland Hill 5 on Sat Apr 16, 2016 at 01:26:59 AM EST
    If she goes free, then who will support her?
    She can't get a job because that background check would be a killer (no pun intended), she has no money, no social security, she is 66 but looking 90, been out of touch since 1969 and only had one friend in her life.
    Charles Manson.
    I don't think she will make it.

    George Vreeland Hill