Thursday, July 23, 2020



In the matter of the Life Term Parole Consideration Hearing of:
CDC Number: W-13378

JULY 23, 2020
9:08 AM

RANDOLF GROUNDS, Presiding Commissioner
EDWARD TAYLOR, Deputy Commissioner

RICHARD PFEIFFER, Attorney for Inmate
DONNA LEBOWITZ, Deputy District Attorney
UNIDENTIFIED, Correctional Staff


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right on the record.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. This is a subsequent number 22 parole consideration hearing for Ms. Van Houten, W13378. The date is 07/23/2020. The time is approximately 9:08 a.m. Uh, Ms. Van Houten is located at CIW in the Chino, California area. Her sentence is seven years to life, she is out of Los Angeles County for case number A253156, and the crime is two counts of murder, first, noting, uh, a count of, uh, conspiracy, part of that murder, first. She has an MEPD of 08/17/1978. She is a youthful offender (inaudible) date of 04/14/2009. The victims are Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Uh, this hearing is being recorded, so for the purpose of voice identification, everyone (unintelligible) state their first and last name, spelling their last name. And Ms. Van Houten, after you spell your last name, if you could also give us your CDC number as well. We’ll start with me and then we'll go around the Skype room, so to speak. My name is Randolf Grounds, G-R-O-U-N-D-S. I'm the Commissioner with the Board of Parole Hearings. Deputy Commissioner, if you would.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Edward Taylor, T-A-Y-L-O-R, Deputy Commissioner.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Thank you. Donna Lebowitz, L-E-B-O-W-I-T-Z, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County.


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Rich Pfeiffer, P-F-E-I-F-F-E-R, Ms. Van Houten's attorney.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Leslie Van Houten, V-A-N H-O-U-T- E-N, W13378.


VNOK TATE: Debra Tate, T-A-T-E, representative for the, uh, LaBianca family.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And, uh, Ms. Lebowitz, you’re going to introduce, uh, Mr. Smaldino.

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Thank you. Louis Smaldino, L-O-U-I-S S-M-A-L-D-I-N-O, who's having technical problems. He is able to hear the hearing, uh, and will call in during the victim impact statement. He is the nephew of Leno LaBianca

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Very good. And, uh, we also have some, uh, custody staff with Ms. Van Houten and will not be participating in the hearing today. As I mentioned, uh, this proceeding is being recorded as mandated by Penal Code Section 3042B and will be transcribed as the official record of this hearing. No other recordings are authorized, including a recording available by video conference software. A violation of this provision may result in exclusion from this or future hearings. So, we're going to take a brief break at this point to check the quality of the recording and ensure that each party can be heard, so Deputy Commissioner, if you would, please, sir.





PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Uh, Ms. Van Houten, as this hearing is being conducted by video conference, I'm going to notify you of certain rights you have and ensure you want to continue with this hearing. First, you have the right to be present at the hearing and meet with the Board of Parole Hearing panel. Do you accept that this video conference satisfies that right?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. You also have a right to be represented by an attorney at your parole consideration hearing. Do you accept that your attorney's appearance by video conference and your ability to have privileged communications with your attorney by telephone satisfy that right?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Very good. All right. So, I wanted to talk to you about your 1073 form, uh, which deals with ADA. Uh, it's dated 06/12/2020. It reflects that you've got a 12.9 reading level and that you received a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature, as well as a Master's in Humanities. Is that correct?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And the disability and effective communication system reflects normal cognitive function. It also reflects that you wear glasses, and, uh, right now, and that, that those glasses are both for long distance and reading as well. Is that correct?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Do you see, okay with those glasses, Ms. Van Houten?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I do. I’m having a little trouble hearing, um, it’s, it’s, yeah, I'm doing okay. I'll let you know.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. If I'm breaking up because of the, the computer, any of you, just let me know, because communication is of the utmost importance here.



DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: I’m having a bit of trouble hearing, uh, the inmate.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Wait. Let me see if I can increase my volume. If I increase my volume, you guys are going to get feedback based upon my, um, past experience. I'm going to try it. I'm going to mute, but hopefully that will take care of the situation.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Okay. Let's see if that will work.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. It seems to be working. Go ahead and speak up, uh, Ms. Van Houten. Say your name, please.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, Leslie Van Houten.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: I can see you -- I can you hear her really well, so did you hear her okay, Ms. Lebowitz?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. All right. So, you walked into the hearing room there at CIW just fine, so I’m assuming you don't have any problems with mobility, is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I'm not having any problems.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: All right. You don't wear special shoes or a back brace or a knee brace or anything like that, is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That’s correct.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Um, have you ever been diagnosed with a learning disability?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, I have not.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And you're still not in the Mental Health System, is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That's correct.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: But you do talk with a psychologist and you have in the past, because that's part of the program there at CIW. Is that correct?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: All right, do you take any kind of medication for anything at this time?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, only calcium and vitamin D.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. So, you added vitamin D since the last hearing. Uh, do you take that in the morning or in the, or in the evening?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I take it with breakfast.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. So, my assumption is that you've taken that already. Is that correct?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Do you suffer from any other disability that would prevent you from participating in today's hearing?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Very good. Counsel, have we adequately covered your client’s ADA concerns, sir?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Very good. So, we reviewed your central file and your prior transcripts. You're going to be given the opportunity again to correct or clarify the record as we proceed. Nothing happens here today is going to change the court findings. We're not here to retry your case. We accept as true, the findings of the court. We're here for the sole purpose of determining your suitability for parole. The format we’ll use today is I'll discuss your pre-conviction factors, such as your life crime, prior criminality, personal history, any other pre-conviction factors that I deem pertinent to assess suitability, and the Deputy Commissioner will discuss post-conviction factors, which is all your time in prison and the comprehensive risk assessment and parole plans will also be addressed. And the district attorney and your attorney will be allowed also to participate in today's hearing. Uh, this is a non- adversarial hearing conducted to ensure public safety. Uh, so now, it's time to swear you in. I'd like to have you raise your right hand, Ms. Van Houten. Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you give at this hearing will be the truth and nothing but the truth?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you. All right. Put your hand down. Very good. So, you know, I, I was a part of your, your last hearing on January 30th, 2019. Uh, myself and the Deputy Commissioner Chakur, um, were on that panel and I can remember talking to you about, uh, your parents divorcing when you were about 14 years old and you started associating with kids, um, from single-parent families. At that time, it seemed like your social support system was different or started to become different at that point. I remember, you talked about the stigma of coming from a divorced family. We talked about your dad was in AA during that hearing and that, uh, your mom was, was embarrassed by that fact. He was very involved, uh, it looked like he got clean when you were about two or three years old. Uh, your mom, uh, it sounds like she was crushed, obviously when the divorce happened. It was right around that time that you'd met Bobby McKay or Bobby Mackie, and had an intense relationship with him as I remember. Uh, you got pregnant by him and you had, uh, a divergent kind of experience with your parents or your dad as I remember, wanted to provide you outlets so that you can have the baby and, and be a success, you and Bobby, but, uh, your mom wanted you to, to get a divorce. And, uh, you felt that the divorce was, was rather, uh, it was rather forced and orchestrated by your mom. Um, and you, you had some difficulty emotionally, standing up to your mom. You said it was a pattern I remember at that time. Um, and that, at the end of that, uh, abortion, when that was completed, you were never the same after that. You, you, uh, mostly seemed more disconnected at that point. Uh, so you joined a self-realization fellowship. Uh, you got cleaned up for about seven months as I remember. You met old friends though, in the process of that. I think you were going to school at Sawyer at that time, but you started hanging out with those friends again, and after being clean for seven months, you started using drugs again. Is that, is that in essence, correct, what I, what I just said?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I, I was hearing that, um, you might've said that divorce, but mom was adamant about the abortion.



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And that's what this process is about, is a chance to correct any, uh, things that you view as a mistake, misstatement. Uh, it looks like you got involved in a self-realization, um, fellowship of sorts and, uh, which leads you in being clean from drugs. Uh, instead of following your dad's advice as far as Sawyer and getting a job, you're hanging with your friends and you go to San Francisco and it's at that point that you meet Bobby Beausoleil, is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, that is.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And then you started, your, your testimony last time was that you started, uh, talking with Catherine Shear. You also met Gail and Beausoleil and, and then the conversation of needing to go to Spahn Ranch starts to happen. Uh, Gail and Beausoleil are arguing a lot and I think Catherine says, “We need to leave these guys. Let's go.” And you ended up hitchhiking down to the ranch, if I remember correctly. Is, uh, is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, yes. I had been with Bobby probably close to two months before I left him.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And then you go, you go to talk to your mom, you say goodbye. And I can remember asking you back then, as far as your anger level with your mom at that point, when you're telling her goodbye, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being you're ready- - you're so angry, you could kill somebody. At that point, you said to me, I was about a 7. I was, I was really angry, when I was talking to my mom. Is that correct?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. And I told my mom that I was dropping out when I, um, began to travel up and down with Robert Beausoleil.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And then, uh, basically Catherine says, we've got to get to the ranch-- or to the ranch. Manson is Christ-like and, uh, and so you hitch hike down there, and you get started, you meet Manson. And--and so really what I want to do at this point. Uh, I think I've got a lot of the background already, and obviously we have the record in regards to what was stated last time, but I want you, in light of Governor Newsom’s reversal, I want you to talk about the life crime, and I want you to start where you want to start and tell us what happened. And, uh, and so, I turn that story over to you and tell it.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I got to the ranch. And at first it was, um, friendly kids with this older guy that presented himself as a playful, fun. The goal at the ranch was to become one, one being, one mind. When we would take our LSD trips, he would talk about letting go of everything our parents taught us. And our schools, he would stand people up, and I remember him having Sandra Good stand up. She had a-- some sort of a surgery when she was a child and he would show us how her parents had done that to her because she was too pretty. And I was carrying with me, my history with my mom. And, um.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: When you say him, you're talking about Manson, at this point.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Manson, Manson.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And, um, we ended up going up to Barker Ranch because there were too many of us, and, um, after we went up to Myers Ranch. And one of the women had a relative that had that ranch, so some of us went up there in the fall. And he had left--




INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, that's the, um, Death Valley Myers Ranch. And, um, he went back into town and when he came back is when things began to change and he started to speak of a revolution, that the blacks had suffered and that the karma was going to change and they were going to win the revolution.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: The, the blacks.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: People were going to win the revolution and we needed to prepare, and, um, for revolution.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We ended up going back into town, but we stayed at a place called Gresham. It was, uh, the name of this street. I'm not sure anymore what town it was in, but we all lived in a home. And, uh, that was when we started listening to the White Album and, um, Manson really escalated his, um, divinity. He had been doing it before, but this really came on. He would have me read to him out of Revelation, look for the different symbolism. We would meet in the living room at night and, um, have the LSD trip. We would do that at the ranch and all of this was what we had done all along, but the conversation had changed and was escalating. Then we ended up going back to Spahn Ranch. Um—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Ms. Van Houten, um, hold that thought. How did he start elevating his, uh, his discussions in regards to his divinity?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That he felt that the Beatles were talking to him on the White Album, that he was the son of man, so his name was Manson. And, um, that he, at one time, had died on the cross with forgiveness and that he wasn't going to do that again.



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: He being, he being in Charles Manson or—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That we were, we were, hmm?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: He being Charles Manson or he being Jesus Christ? What do he mean?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Reincarnated.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That he basically come back, the Second Coming.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't know if it was reincarnation, but the Second Coming.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Right. He felt that he was-- okay.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: At Gresham was when he would, um, put one of us in front of the circle and begin to be critical and, um, just basically all geared toward, um, dismantling our personalities and who we were. And, uh—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Were you ever on the circle, in the middle of the circle?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Were you ever in the middle of that circle?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And what, what happened there and how many times were you in the middle of that circle?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I remember one in particular and it was very humiliating and, um, my humiliation turned into self-criticism because it shouldn't have affected me in how he was working things out. He was, um, having us give up our personalities. So—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: What was said to you, do you remember?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That I was lost in thinking that I didn't understand him, that I needed to try harder.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We're were doing this completely disrobed.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Anything else that, that happened to you during that time when you're standing in the middle of the circle? How many people are with you in that room when this is going on at Gresham?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Probably 12 or 15.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. All women or was Watson or anybody there with you?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't remember exactly, but I know that there were, um, men there.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. There were men there as well. Okay. Go ahead. Go ahead.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So we ended going back to the ranch and, um, that’s when the dune buggies were beginning to get modified, and, um, we were trying to figure out how to preserve foods for a long period of time. There was a walkie talkie system that was set up for the back farmhouse. And, um, we were encouraged to try to sneak up on each other. His focus became that we would, um, get used to living in fear, that fear was awareness, and when the revolution came, that we needed to be afraid because that's how we would survive.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, we also, um, began to go on, uh, what he called creepy crawly, and that was, um, I, I burglarized my dad's house at that time.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I didn’t go on any of the others, but I burglarized my dad and that was happening. And his night talks became more involved in, um, murder, killing, violence, surviving more, preparing our mind to see things that would jar them, that, that we could continue to function. We were gearing up to saving the children and taking them to the desert. And he talked about a hole in the middle of the desert, where we would go for 150 years and come back out. And, so, it kept escalating. He started having, um, bikers come around and stay. He felt that they were, um, there to protect him. And, um—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You met one of the bikers?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You met one of the bikers and I think it sounds like you got a little, you got closer, you were attracted to him, one of the bikers at that time.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. I was, I was attracted to one of the bikers and we went up into the hills one night and, um, spent the night together. And when we came down, uh, Manson was pretty upset. He was very angry at me and he threw Sammy off of the, uh, ranch. And we were in the little cafe at the time and he told Tex, um, we're losing this one, you need to keep an eye on her.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, a few days later, um, Sammy came up in a car with some other guys and told me to jump in and get in and leave. And I didn't, I felt like I was, um, frozen there, um, that to leave was to put myself in grave danger because of all of the conversations about what was coming in the world.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So that was, um, that, yeah, that was one of the bikers. So, one night, Pat and I, Pat Krenwinkel and I-- I'm going to-- may I have a drink of water for a minute?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You sure can. Go ahead. You've been sitting there for a bit.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: One night, Pat and I were in this little place taking care of the children. And Manson came in and called, called Pat out, and I didn't see her till the next morning. And when I saw her, she said that Helter Skelter had started and I knew that that meant people had been murdered. She said it didn't seem right, that the people were young and that one of the women was pregnant. Early on, Manson had told me to stay close to Pat, that she was close to him and that I should be around her. So, I knew that Pat had committed herself and crossed the line and I wanted to do the same. We were under the impression, I'm sorry. You’re going to say—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Go ahead. Go ahead. Continue with your thought.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We were under the impression that this would continue. So—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Like every day— like every day?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Yeah. That it was now the way it was going to be.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, there was going to be a killing every night.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That was the impression.



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And you were in agreement with that?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, yes, I was.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I believed in him. I believed in what he saw coming and I was committed to it.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, the next day or that, that same day that Pat spoke to me, I met, or I was on the boardwalk and Manson asked me, was I crazy enough to believe in him? And I told him that I was. That night, he asked me to go get a change of clothes and I did. Later that night, I think six of us or seven of us, went in a car and started driving around Los Angeles. We came to one house and he went and looked in the window and came back and said that there were children in the house and drove away. We stopped at a church. He said he was going to hang the preacher upside down, but he came back to the car. After driving around for a very long time, we came to the LaBianca home. At the time, I had no idea who lived there. I didn't know why it was selected. I just know that we were there. Manson and Watson went into the house. They came out, no, I'm sorry. Manson came out and told Pat and I to go in and to do whatever Tex said. We walked into the house and in the living room, Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca were sitting on the sofa. They were, um, their hands were tied. I don't remember their hands being tied, but I know they had to have been. They were very frightened, wondering what was going on. Tex told Pat and I to go into the kitchen and to get knifes. We took Mrs. LaBianca into the bedroom. I don't remember putting the pillow case on her head, but I have to have done that. I secured the pillow case with a lamp cord. I began to try to hold Mrs. LaBianca down while Pat was going to stab her. Mrs. LaBianca at that time, heard her husband being murdered in the living room. She reared forward and said, “What are you doing?” And I lost grip on her and Pat tried to stab her and the knife bent when it hit her collarbone. At that point, I ran into the doorway and I called out to Tex and I said, we, we can't kill her. At that point, he came into the bedroom, Pat left the bedroom, and I stared into a den, Tex turned me around and Tex said, do something and handed me a knife and I stabbed Mrs. LaBianca in the lower torso, 16, 18 times, I didn't know at the time how many it was, but as time has gone on, that's what I have been told, repeatedly. When I did that, I began to wipe off fingerprints in the bedroom. Tex took a shower, told me to give him my change of clothes and to change my clothes. I told him I didn't need to change my clothes and he said that Charlie told us to change our clothes, so go into the closet and get clothes. So, I got clothes from Mrs. LaBianca’s closet. On our way out-- I stayed in the bedroom. On our way out, I passed by Mr. LaBianca and I saw writing on the wall. We took milk and cheese out of the refrigerator and went and hid in the bushes until the sun rose. When the sun rose, we hitchhiked back to Spahn Ranch. At the ranch, I went to the back farm house. I burned clothes and a rope and Dianne Bluestein was there. Dianne Lake was there. I told Dianne what had happened and I told her it was fun. I don't remember saying it, but it sounds like something I might've said at that time with who I was. Tex saw me talking to Dianne and he told me not to talk about the crimes again. And I thought that that was unusual because we were all supposed to be one and we’re all supposed to be involved, and so that was, um, the murder.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You know, when you're, you’re talking to Dianne, I remember at the last hearing, you talked about wanting to be like her. She's 13 years old. Uh, I wanted you to give me some clarification when you were talking to Dianne, um, about that.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. Early, okay, early on, Manson always held Dianne up in front of all of us and said that she was perfect, and she was an empty vessel with no thoughts. At the time, the fact that she was 13 didn't register to me, nothing was registering to me at that time. None of decency and morality was really part of my mindset at that time and so I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be an empty vessel. I wanted to be pure.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, what did it mean to be an empty vessel?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No thoughts. Just a reflection of Manson. Be there to be of service.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, what happens after, after the murders of Leno and Rosemary? What do you do? What happens?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Shortly after the murders, Manson has Pat Krenwinkel and I go and stay at a place called the Fountain of the World. And then after that, there was a, there was a big arrest that happened at the ranch, a raid. So, it was shortly after that, that Manson had Pat Krenwinkel and I go stay at a place called Fountain of the World. It was near the ranch. And, um, then they came by and told us we were going to the desert. So, we went up to the desert.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: When we were at the desert, we continued to prepare for the revolution. We built, uh, outside of Barker Ranch, we built, uh, uh, highway place and, um, practiced marching around in the desert with backpacks. Um, we tried to see how long we could survive with very little water and it was all, uh, training and preparation until we were arrested.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Was Manson out there with you or was any other males out there with you?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, they were. Tex was there at first and then he left. At that point, the men like Steve Grogan, um, I can't, I can't remember everybody, the guys, but Steve Grogan and another guy, maybe a guy named Bruce, but I don't think—


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't know.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You talking about Bruce Davis?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It could have been. There were two Bruce’s there, but the men were armed at night, and Manson, at that point, really didn't want anybody leaving. So—


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Until we were arrested.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. So, I'm asking you a big question like I did last time and that is why did you do it and what are the causative factors? And I, I think in, in asking that question, I'd like you to look back knowing what you know today and see where were the important, um, turning points that you saw as you started to move towards, uh, this effort to kill people, to, uh, commit these crimes, uh, as you're relating that to Manson and the others. There's a breakdown, you talked about becoming empty, no thought, a breakdown in your own identity as a person. You talked about, uh, leaving your, your past behind, cut-- In fact, I think, um, Catherine Share told you that at the beginning, you got cut with the past. Um, I mean, what are the important parts in your mind where you can see that you are making decisions that moved you in a direction of where you could do something so callous? That's a big question.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I think the things that you mentioned early on in the hearing, particularly the abortion, let me, you know, I'm not, do you want me to go all the way back? You, you read my early, uh, events in my life that led me to the ranch. And when I got—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Let’s start with the, let's start with this, let's start with this because it’s simpler. Tell us what are the causative factors that led you to commit these crimes, and I'll just let you talk about that, and then I'll ask more specifically chrono-, chronologically, how did you see that happening in your life. But let’s start with the causative factors that led you to commit these crimes.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: From the moment that I got to the-- well, when I met Catherine Share, I was at an all- time bottom low. I had no income, I did not feel good about either of my parents, and when I met her, it seemed to me that I was being offered a pretty good life. And so, I chose to call my mother, tell her I would be dropping out, that she wouldn't hear from me, and that I was going to live a different kind of life. When I got to the ranch, I read, I read a book on relationship and, um, it described the relationship where one participant needs to be in control and the other person needs to have someone take control. And I view that as my initial relationship with Charles Manson. I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know where I was going. I was living the world of people that were taking LSD, drink-- uh, smoking marijuana. I was part of, when I met him, I was part of the hippie movement, looking for different lifestyles than what my parents offered me, and I was broken by the abortion. It really deeply wounded me. I spent a lot of time when I was with Robert Beausoleil, talking with Catherine Share about my life. And I believe that the things that made me weak and lost were ultimately used as manipulations against me in my conversations with Manson and how Manson chose to relate to me. I didn't know it at the time. At the time, I thought he had great insight into what a horrible person I was at that time, by allowing my mom to set up the abortion. I had a lot of criticism about myself about that.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I allowed myself to make the group more important than my early teachings of right and wrong. It was important that the people at the ranch felt that I was one of them and I was, and I sold myself out over and over. Through our LSD trips, I was convinced that what would normally be intuition and red flag rather became self-criticisms that I had not let go. I had not abandoned the teachings that I received as a child.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Any other causative factors, Ms. Van Houten, that you could see?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I wanted to please Manson, which is certainly one of my early, um, shortcomings.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And what did you hope to get by the revolution? You wanted to be a part of that. What did you want to get for you? Uh, what attracted you to that, that mentality?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because Charles Manson was Christ-come back, I was obligated. Because I was close to him, I was obligated to see through what he knew had to happen. Personally, I would be able to survive, that I would be able to help go to the desert and live in the hole, that I would be accepted by Manson, that he would know that I was very loyal to him.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That my commitment would be sealed.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Ms. Van Houten, what's the definition of a false leader in your mind?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Certainly, a false leader is someone who believes that they have all the answers and presents that. False leaders manipulate the followers into adhering to the leader's belief system. A false leader believes their right and everybody else is wrong. A false leader, uh, harms others.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: A false leader creates a singular point of view, and a false leader strips followers of their dignity and their humanity.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay, so, false leader causes people lose their freedom.


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. So, what's a true leader? What's a, because there's lots of leaders out there. What's a, what’s a true leader do?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: A true leader encourages those that look to them, to flourish, to become the best that they can, are aware of those who are suffering, and does what they can to accommodate and help those, so that no one is left behind. A true leader encourages others to be decision makers. A true leader listens to the people rather than tell them. A true leader shares their wisdom and listens to what they're being told.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Well, you were part of a, a group that said that “Karma was going to come back and blacks were going to be, uh, uh, vindicated,” so to speak, uh, you know, because of past harms. Uh, you definitely, according to your testimony, put things in a, in a way that might have had some semblance of, in some delusional kind of way of some kind of justice. But at the same time he’s, he’s taking somebody's wallet, trying to plant it somewhere in a black community so that the blacks get blamed. Um, what are some of the inconsistencies that you see looking back, and, uh, signs or red flags, so to speak, that should have been indicators to you that are now, about your behavior and about the group's behavior and about Manson's behavior? What were some of the red flags that you needed to get out of there and do something different? I know you didn't see it at the time, but looking back on it, knowing what you know now, what are, what are some of the red flags that you could see looking back?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, I, the self, the criticism we received would have been a red flag early on. I'm thinking of early on.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: The fact that when we weren't around Manson, that we kept that same criticism going, that individuality was, um, criticized, that, um, he would tell us what we were seeing and then we would see it, you know, that limited viewpoint. I remember one time we were in the parking lot and he said, here they come. He thought that Black Panthers were coming to get us, and, um, he, he didn't allow us to challenge or say, no, you know, I don't think that's what was there, you know. That whole idea that it had to be his point of view, um, the violence that he would, um, inflict on people and the threat of it is an indicator now.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: The, um, everything about him on hindsight, everything about the ranch on hindsight was not at all what it has appeared to be.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: How long did that appearance last for you before you started seeing those signs? You arrived at the thing, at the ranch. You see a, you see some (unintelligible) welcoming. How long before you saw that first sign?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: There was a, after I got there, I had been there for a little bit.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: What’s a little bit? What’s a little bit?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, hard for me to say, but maybe around a month.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, he gave us all an LSD trip. And when, when we took the LSD, we had to commit that we would sit and that we wouldn't leave for the night and, um, wouldn't get up and all of that. And he said that he was leaving, that no one had treated him decently and he'd had it, and he was leaving the ranch and everybody flipped out. It was a really bad LSD trip. And when he came back, he was more, um, aggressive and then when there was that time that I've talked about before, where I think we were either in the desert in the winter, or I'm not sure. It was sometime in the winter. We were either at Spahn Ranch or something and he said to all of us to bah like sheep and we did. And it was shortly after that, that it became more violent. But from the very beginning, the agenda of the ranch was that we all become one, that we all become a finger on a hand, that we get, um, one thought, which was part of the LSD experience and all of that. So, from the very beginning, that was, um, discussed. The violence came in the winter. And he would be violent to women throughout that time, but, like when he broke the chair over Beau’s [PH] head for standing up, you know. When I saw that all I did was get very afraid and thinks don't ever, don't ever stand up. Don't, don't do this, don't do that. I was, I was a compliant, weak human being, and I am not proud of that.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You saw other people leave the ranch, you saw other people get away, um, you saw a couple leave, I think it was in the middle of the desert, they had to go quite a ways with a -- I think you said a canteen of water. They really wanted to get out of there.


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: What'd you think about that when you saw those, those people get away? What went through your head?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That they weren't there, you know, that they weren't tuned in.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, you saw yourself stepping up and—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I didn’t, yeah, I didn't, I didn't see, I didn't see it as well, I should try to do that. I had no self-preservation. I didn't in, um, the courtroom, my original testimony, I testified I was at a crime I wasn't even at, to try to get Manson off. So, it was a long time before I really started to, um, understand.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Any other factors that you can think of that led to you cooperating with such a delusional leader?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: The main factors were that I was, I was a very weak person that took advantage of someone that wanted to take control of my life and I handed it over.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Uh-huh. And you felt you were right?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I believed I was right doing that.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, you’re not violent before the life crime. You’re nonviolent when you're out on your own recognizance while you’re going through the trials, and you’ve been nonviolent for 50 years, but you're extremely violent during the life crimes, and you participated with a group that you accept, I mean, I remember you talking about, um, accepting responsibility for the, the murders that we went over and Sharon Tate's home because of your involvement in the group. Even though you weren't there, you said you participated, you could've left. You could have talked to somebody. You saw a stockpile of weapons going on, right?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. You saw it moving towards violence and you knew you were going to be violent. You knew that it was going to start, you were going to kill people and then get used to, to that fact. Any other causative factors that would lead you to go from point A to point Z that you haven't already talked about?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I believed in Manson. I believed in his belief system, I felt obligated to participate. I wanted to participate. I believed that it was something that had to be done.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And it had to be done because he said so or were there other, any other reasons that was going on in your mind?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because he said so.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. So, you walked into a home with two innocent people that have never harmed you before, and you, you’re convinced to killing them. And I'm sure you see the look on their faces and you hear this, the moans and groans and the pain going on in the next room. How do you handle that right then? How do you handle that right then?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Not well. I believed that I was, in over my head, and I became very critical of myself because I felt that I wasn't carrying my weight.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And carrying your weight was to mutilate those people?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So even at a time when I should have had a bit of humanity, it became self-criticism and it sits with me today.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: It fits with you today, what-- explain that.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I asked myself, “How could you?” Even though I know the answers, it's hard to live with. There's no justifying it.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's shameful.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: How did you impact your, your victims now? I asked you that before, I'm going to ask you that again.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I didn't catch the question.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Talk about your impact by behaving the way you did.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Talk about my what?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Talk about the impact of your crimes. How did you impact people?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh, oh, I, um, first of all, when I found out that it was Frank Struthers that came home and discovered his mom, I know that it devastated him, and that has been hard for me to, um, live with. I know that my crime hurt the LaBianca Family and I listen every board hearing to how it has impacted them. I know how the crimes have impacted those that were at the first night, Sharon Tate, and her sister and her family and the others. I know that because it wasn't an early arrest that the Los Angeles area lived in fear. I know that for those that came in and did the investigation, that it, it affected them, that they were exposed to things that would not leave their conscience. I know that it affected my family. My brother and sister who were still in school had a very hard time.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That it devastated my, my own family, my neighborhood, those that knew me. And I know that-- (unintelligible).


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Okay, okay. I know, I know that, that. Oh, I'm getting a feedback, oh I’m getting feedback, I think.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Oh yeah, I'm not hearing it. Uh—

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: I’m also getting that feedback, that feedback.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah, I’m getting feedback, yeah I’m getting feedback.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yes, I am. Yes, I am. There’s two, uh, there’s uh, uh—


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: There’s two sources, there’s sources. So, there are two mics, there’s two mics. So somehow, somebody has to turn off one of their mics. That’s mine. Uh, Commissioner Grounds, you’re muted. Commissioner Grounds, I can’t hear you. It’s indicated that you’re muted. Can you hear me? Commissioner Grounds, for some reason, you're not coming through. I can hear Ms. Van Houten.



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Ms. Van Houten, if you would, please. Go, go ahead and continue.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Do you hear me now?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Good. I just solved the problem.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Are we still on the record?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah, I didn’t take us off.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: All right. Mr. Smaldino, welcome. I can see you as well. Okay. I can't hear you. You're on mute, on mute, but that's okay. I'm just glad you're with us. Um, Mr. Taylor, uh, are you ready to go forward? Are we on the record?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Uh, yeah, we're on the record. I'm ready to go forward.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. All right. The time is 10:16 a.m. Uh, Ms. Van Houten, continue with your, your thoughts in regards to impact of victims.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I, I ended up with the, I was talking about the impact on the Los Angeles community.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And from there, it has expanded. And, um, my crime affected the nation. It brought an end to a time period in the ’60s. It impacted other people in other country and it continues to.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Let’s talk about, um, Rosemary, let’s talk about Leno. How did you impact them?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I robbed her of her ability to live a life, see grandchildren, become whoever she was, flourish, stole her life. She didn't deserve it. She didn't in any way, have it coming. She was living her life. No relationship.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Let's talk about Leno. How did you impact him?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I robbed him of being able to enjoy his family, who loved him dearly. To see through those things that he enjoyed, play with grandchildren, be present at holidays, see the fruits of all of his labors. He was an innocent victim and I robbed him of his life.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Looking back on knowing what you know today, looking back on, on your life, what are some of the things that you would do differently, um, Ms. Van Houten? That's a big question.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's a, it’s a multilayered question, you know. Early on, what I would have done is I would have been more supportive in hindsight of my mom when dad left. I wouldn't have been blaming her and becoming rebellious. I, I wish that I would have been more steadfast in the direction my life was going. When I look back, I wish that, had I ended up at the ranch and meeting the people that I would have followed my intuitions that I got, when things began to change and leave. Regarding the murders, on hindsight, I wish I could have gone to the police and talked to someone before it ever started.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And Ms. Van Houten, um, you said that when you first got to the ranch, you wish you had followed your intuition when things started to change and got out of there is basically what I heard you’re saying, when was that first intuition, to your recollection?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I would say that the first time was when I'd probably been there about a week and Manson started to turn on me for having too much ego and not surrendering. And instead of following that, I really thought, wow, I need to work on myself and see what he's talking about. It got the better of me, and then it just went downhill from there.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: But that's where you saw it is when, when he came down on you negatively. How about when you had to surrender all your clothes and give everything, give everything up?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I was, I was okay with that. I didn't, I didn't feel an attachment to my own things. I didn't have anything.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Right. Nobody did there and everybody exchanged things every day. You couldn’t wear the same thing. You couldn't have any ownership of anything. Okay, it’s (unintelligible) relationally, when he came down on you, that's what bothered you and that was your first intuition, is that correct?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. That, that I believed him. I went there specifically to find where I belonged.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. What else would you change looking back? You talked about the murders, going to police. You talked about leaving the ranch upon your first intuition that something wasn't right. Uh, any other things that you would change about decisions you made? You talked about being more supportive of your mother, when she was going through a difficult time, when she was crushed by your dad leaving for, I think a couple of other younger women in succession. What else would you change?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, when I say that about being supportive of my mom, that would have meant that I would not have started smoking marijuana. I would not have, uh, gotten so involved with Robert Mackey. All of those things were spearheaded by my anger and rebelliousness at my mom and feeling that dad had left me.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Deputy Commissioner, any questions in regards to, uh, life crime and the things that we've been discussing before you go into post-conviction factors, sir?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yes, I had, uh, one or two. So, uh, was there, uh, any kind of hierarchy of people in the ranch or are there some people that were, uh, giving orders and other people that were taking orders besides Manson?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, Lynette Fromme was definitely one of his, um, we used to, it’s, it's been talked about, it's like layers of circles of people.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And those closest to him were, uh, Squeaky, Lynette Fromme, Pat Krenwinkel, Mary Brunner, the first people that were with him.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And then there was another and Lynette would, um, often give his orders out and I'd say, she was the strongest in giving out his orders.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: So, did you give orders to anybody?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, not that I remember, unless I was asked to, but I was, I was further back, which is why I tried so hard.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Because you want him to be in that circle?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Yes. Then the next circle of people were like Dianne Lake, Ruthie Morehouse, the younger women, and then came the group I was in.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. So, were you on the outermost circle?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I think the outermost were people that could come and go, once he basically used them for what they wanted.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: But I was on, uh, I was, I was one of the ones that were for keeping the bikers around and doing that kind of thing, cleaning out the barn, trying really hard to be accepted.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. I think those are the only questions I had about pre-conviction. You're muted, Commissioner Grounds. Can you hear me?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Yeah. I have one more question really quick Deputy Commissioner as far as Beausoleil. Um, can you hear me? Can you hear me?


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I can't hear you.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Commissioner Grounds, you're, you're not coming through at this moment.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: How about that? Can you hear me now?



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. And, in regards to Beausoleil, you mentioned previously that you were involved in keeping him around. What, what was the significance of that?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, Manson wanted, uh, Bobby Beausoleil to come and stay at the ranch, and Bobby was always coming and going. And so, whenever he came around, he wanted me to do my best to keep Bobby there.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: What do you think his interest in Bobby was?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I think his interest was in Bobby’s music, and I think that he probably had an attraction. I, I don't know. I don't know. Mine, mine is speculation.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Right, right. But you did mention that he was a pedophile.


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You stated that as latent, I think in the context of, uh, that Manson had some pedophile behavior with younger, younger people. I think that was in the context of the CRA.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I determined that when I sobered up enough to know that Dianne was 13 and that Ruthie Morehouse was 14. That was what I based that opinion of him on.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Did you see any of that happening with Beausoleil?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Deputy Commissioner, go ahead. Excuse my interruption there.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Can we take a break if we’re changing?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Yes, we can. The time is time is 10, the time is 10:30 and we're going to take a break right now, okay, for about 10 minutes, okay?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Today, I'm interested in what’s being offered and, um, I try to keep myself involved.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. I have a confession to make. I was, um, apparently on pause. I didn't put it back on the record when I started again, so, um, I have to go back over. Um, some of that will be discussed. Um, so, uh, I've kind of tried to be quick and, um—

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: No, be thorough. Be thorough.


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You take your time and do it right.



DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Sorry about that. Uh, anyway, um, so, um, anyway, um, I was, uh, asking you what the hierarchy was, the people in the ranch, um, and you explained there was a series of circles of power where you, uh, were, uh—



PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You're going to do a second try at this, Ms. Van Houten and be patient and, and respond to this question, please.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: If it helps, I’ve been typing almost verbatim.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. I don’t believe I got her on the record.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Mr. Taylor, go ahead and ask the question again (unintelligible).

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. So, the question was, where were you were in the hierarchy of people on the ranch as far as who gave orders and who received orders?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Okay. And the first circle of people were basically Lynette Fromme, Pat Krenwinkel, Mary Brunner, the people that were there with him from the beginning. And it was Lynette Fromme that usually gave the responses or you asked if there were people that gave orders.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I said that Lynette was pretty much the one. And there was a second layer of people that were there before I got there. And that was, um, the younger girls, uh, um, I'm sorry, Sandra Good, um, Nancy, Nancy Pitman or Nancy Pitman was definitely in the first circle of people. And, um, Ruthie Morehouse and Dianne Lake were part of the second circle. And then I would have been in the third circle with Cathy Gillies and, um, me and I can't remember who else would have been there.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And then there were the people that came and left.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. And did you give orders to anybody?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't remember giving orders. If I did, I would have been asked to go tell so-and-so something.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It wouldn't have been in, uh, original thought, that I remember.



DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right. So, uh, I was, uh, talking about, um, post-conviction and, um, what happens there as you know, is, uh, there's, uh, vocational work and educational history that we review and then there's disciplinary history, and then we go onto your programming. Um, so, um, I usually mention what the governor decided or what was decided at the last tribunal. And in your case, on June 3rd, 2019. The governor reversed, because he thought you minimized your role, you thought you lacked insight into the causative factors and he thought you needed a deeper understanding of what made you submit to Manson. Um, and you addressed some of those concerns with the Commissioner. Um, so, uh, then I looked at your academic history and I noted that, although you gotta BA and MA over the years, nothing since the last, um, last hearing in 2019, correct?


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: And then work history wise, uh, although you had a long work history, um, it looks like you continued working as a chairperson of the Inmate Advisory Committee and volunteering as a tutor. Correct?


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Good. Um, and then there, I looked at your reviews, they're still exceptional. They still say you're dependable and efficient, so it hasn't changed for many years. Um, vocationally, you mentioned, uh, there was nothing new in that area.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. And disciplinary history. Um, you hadn't committed any rules violations. Any rules violations that weren't reported?


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. There was one of custodial level back in the ’80s. Um, programming wise, we had a, you participating in the following groups, um, Victim’s Offender Group, which you have ceased to participate in. Um—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, only, only because my time ran out and I wasn't invited.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: You, you can only be part of that program for a period of time. It's not one of those over and over and over and over.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's, the way, the way it's set up is you, you become part of the Victim Offender Program.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Then they select one person to facilitate that program the next time around with a new group of people.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I did that twice and then I stepped down because it's not a program that you keep participating in.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right, then. We talked about your involvement in AA. You said you were a participant and not a facilitator at this point.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, yeah. What I was saying was that I facilitate some groups like I am in, uh, well, just to put it in perspective with, um, COVID, I'm not facilitating anything at the moment.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because there isn't anything at the moment. But what I was doing prior, in March, I was facilitating, um, uh, Helping Women Recover, which is the new Stephanie Covington program.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I, uh, got training and facilitating a new program that's coming called the If Project. And I also participate in, um, therapy groups because CIW has, where we get, um, the opportunity to have therapy groups with interns, from a local college without being part of the CCCMS program. And the point I was making was that I liked to also be part of programs where I'm not the facilitator.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Actors’ Gang Prison Project, the facilitators rotate.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, there's never someone always having the answers. There isn't someone that is always being looked to, that the group works together. And because I facilitate quite a bit, I appreciate it when I'm in a group where I don't.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Where I'm a participant.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right. Um, So, uh, then I was very interested in your plan to deal with codependency, and I asked you what a healthy relationship was. Um, do you want to explain what a healthy relationship is?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Sure. Um, it’s two individuals that come together and there is room to disagree, there is room to have discussions and not attack, that there are individual interests, that it's not symbiotic, that it's something where the two individuals choose to enjoy each other's company and help each other become the best human beings that they can become and work out their problems in a civil manner.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. And when do you know when a relationship or how do you deal with an unhealthy relationship?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: How would I deal with it?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. So, what are some—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would, um, I would bring up to the individual what I'm beginning to feel and that it's not working out for me.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And hopefully they would hear me and if they did not, and at that point, they try to change my personality to meet their needs, I would leave it.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. And, and what do you do if you disagree with somebody? Um, in a relationship?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: What do I do if I disagree?




INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I tell them I disagree, yeah, I tell him I disagree with your perspective and I tell them how I see it, and, um, how it goes from there.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And have a, have a discussion.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right. And you mentioned that in many ways, Manson as a leader, tried to use power to manipulate people, that you're cognizant of that.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: So then, a general question about what programs have been helpful and would be useful for us to know about in deciding the case?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: What is, recently?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah, recently. What, what new insights have you gained from the most recent programming that'd be helpful for us to know?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I spoke amends for a bit. One of the things that I found with, um, being involved in the SMART Program, I think that I, um, you asked me about that?


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And part of what happened was it was connected to the Math Program and so it was canceled. But one of the things that I really liked about the SMART Program was the new information that's coming out, that leads to understanding that the body and the brain are connected. And if you can understand what's going on, like if I can say, wow, I'm, I'm really feeling tense right now, if I can read that in myself, then I can see where it's going in my head and that can help with relapse, bad relationships, just about everything. And so, I don't, I love the idea that I was being introduced to the new discoveries of the ability to connect the two. I also, um, found that the discussion groups through the criteria that Covington created with her, um, Helping Women Recover was, uh, helpful to me. Because I participated, I mean, because I facilitated that, I was facilitating a lot of younger women that were involved in the Camp Program and it exposed me to their thinking with the questions that were presented, and sometimes, I was able to see who I was then and who I am now. And, um, that was helpful to me to see that.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: So, what would you tell your-- I also wanted to discuss your relapse prevention plan for substance abuse. Um, um, do you have accountability, what's your relapse plan for substance abuse?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, I, I use it in here too. It's, you know, you have someone that you speak to and I, I spoke to you about, that there's a woman that I'm hoping I can get to, um, sponsor me when I get out, named Shelly. She's very, um, straightforward. I would like a sponsor that doesn't, um, mince words, you know, if they see something in me, tell me.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I, um, have friends that I can talk to, and I know that I, that relapse begins way before you take the action, you know, so I would have all of that in place.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I've been sober for a long time, but I don't take it for granted. I, I love my sobriety.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. And you've been participating in NA and so on, programs like that since ’94. Um, so what would you tell your younger self or people in a similar situation today?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would try to tell myself to slow down and talk with me about what's going on inside of my younger self.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would really stress learning to measure consequence. And, um, I want to say again that when I first came to the prison, I don't think they called it a Behavior Mod Program, but they really had me on a strong program where an action would have a significant consequence. And I think that that, along with the warden working with my mom, really helped me begin to ground myself. And I was trying get that going with my younger self. I try to do it with the younger women in here, you know.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Like what are you, what are you, what are you doing? What do you think you're doing, you know?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right, sounds good. Um, so, uh, I think now, we should probably go on to discuss your parole plans and supporting documents and opposing documents. So, uh, I'll, I'll talk about, um, the opposing documents first and then talk about the support letters from professionals and then from people that you knew before the crime, and then people you met while incarcerated, and then finally people on the outside that are willing to help you. So, I'll kind of review your parole plan and the documents supporting and opposing at the same time. So, to summarize opposing, we have a number of letters from, from people. Um, Brandy Holmes writes in and says, she's a concerned you'll fall back into bad relationships with the people. Um, Tara Salazar writes in, thinks you’re a sociopath. Um, Jasmine Sugar writes in, thinks you have no remorse. Patsy Garvey wrote in, as a concerned California citizen. So, we have those opposition letters as well as others to consider. Um, from professionals, uh, we have your, your attorney's letter where he summarizes, over the years, all the BPH actions that have been taken, decisions that were made and why they were made, and then next to those for contrast, the summary of what the psych, uh, determined about you. And, um, next to that, uh, summary of your self-help and programming. So, we have that from him. A very interesting letter is, uh, on page 14 of the 10-day from a guy named Patrick O'Reilly, Ph.D. Um, and he's an expert in cults and he met with you, uh, he still meets with you on a regular basis. Is that true?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I see him about once a year.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And we write letters back and forth, now and then.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. And he writes, gives an opinion that the influence of Manson changed you, and now, you've broken with his influence with a cult and you're no longer a risk. Um, and so, uh, do you consider him a useful resource to avoid falling back to the negative lifestyle?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I would use him. I use him now, not falling back into a negative lifestyle, but when I find my esteem is starting to shrink, you know, from what I did, then, um, I see him about once a year.



DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: And does he conduct a kind of assessment of whether you're, you're, you know, in a positive frame of mind?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'm sorry, I didn't catch it.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Does he, uh, does he, is he mindful of, of the, of the possibility you could relapse into a negative lifestyle?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Is he, I, I don't know.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. Um, would he know if you were under the influence of a, of a cult or anything like that by talking to you?




DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right. Um, then we have, uh, support letters from people that knew you before you committed your crime. There's about maybe nine people who write in. Your brother, Paul, um, a number of friends from high school. Um, a notable person to wrote in was your friend, Linda Grippy.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: And, uh, she says that, you know, you changed from the person in high school who was kind and intelligent to a more negative person, and that you've changed back. Um, she also offers to provide you with some support, um, $12,000 a year upon release. You think she can do that?


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Uh, well, would you accept it and, and, and would she give it?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I think she would give it.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. All right. Um, so that's a resource you have financially. Um, but then we have, uh—



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I have, I have quite a few friends that will help me in whatever way I need, you know. I plan on living with someone, when I get out.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: So perhaps you won't need any assistance from her.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, it's good to know it's there and I probably will in the beginning, you know.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't, I don't have anything.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. So then, we have support letters from people you met while incarcerated. They generally say that you've expressed remorse. You've changed. You're now prosocial, you facilitate many meetings. A few that stood out there, about 15 of these letters, some that stood out would be the one from Associate Warden, former Associate Warden John Lee, who, uh—


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: He says you've changed. Um, I think he was a warden for, associate warden for 14 years, so I guess he would know. Um—


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Denise Green, staff services at California Institute of Women. Says she's known you for 15 years and you participated in facilitating many groups. We have her writing in your behalf. Um, a, a former inmate, Cheryl Minchile [PH], friend of 40 years writes in. She describes, um, a meeting of 42 former lifers who thought that you were at the core of their rehabilitation. Um, another notable one that somebody, uh, sent in your behalf, former inmate Margaret Brill took classes with you together, and she, uh, you were mentioning you wanted somebody to help you with your 12 Steps. Uh, she mentioned that she would support you with your 12 Steps. What do you think about that idea?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I like it very much. Margaret and I, um, spoke about the 12-Step Program frequently when we worked together. And, um, she's been able to maintain her sobriety and she's very dedicated to the program. And, you know, I would appreciate that. She would be someone that I would talk to. She lived in a different part of the State, but she definitely would be a phone call.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That would be a mutual.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: So, then we have, uh, people on the outside writing to support you, uh, Nancy Pratt, Nancy Pratt, she's a former high school friend of yours. Um, uh, said she would be willing to provide you with housing and then also on the housing area, we have Connie Turner, a former inmate. She wrote in saying she’s willing to provide you with housing and she actually attached a listing of AA and NA meetings, community services, education options, and transportation to her letter. Um—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Connie is not a former inmate.



DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Somehow, I thought, well, she had known you for a while, right?



INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We, when, um, I was working on my Bachelor's Degree, at that time, the prison system allowed half of the class to come in from the community and we met at that point. We met in prison, so that might've been what she said.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. Sort of what threw me, I guess, but she was just visiting, she wasn't like incarcerated. So, what do you think of, of these people that are offering you housing here, uh, do any of these appeal to you as far as housing goes?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Um, they do. Yeah, Connie Turner appeals to me.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: My brother appeals to me. Linda Grippy appeals to me. I, I personally would like to start in a program because I think that, um, being incarcerated, I have a limited view on who people are, what their daily habits are, and I would want to be able to live with someone that would not try to, um, well, have an inordinate amount of influence on me, even if it were for the good. And I don't know if I'm saying that right, but, you know, I pretty much need to know that I have autonomy.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah. So transitional programs are generally considered good and you're considering one. Do you have any in mind at this point,

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I want to go to a program, I've mentioned it for several years now, and it's called Roxie Rose.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It was put together by, um, uh, a woman I used to work for in here, named, uh, Ms. Tut. She was a Lieutenant and, um, I used to do her incident report and she further went on to become a parole agent. Um, I think she retired as an AW and I like the idea of, um, living at her place. I feel like she has a sense of who I am.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And what I, yeah, who I am. And I would pay, she's not part of a grant program, so I would pay for my ability to stay there by facilitating younger women. The, most of the people in her program are, uh, veterans and people with drug problems.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. Sounds like a viable option. Um—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I think it's also near a parole agent’s building where I would be able to, um, go to group therapies and stuff like that, that the agent would want me to go to.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: All right. Um, then we have job options sort of presented. We've got, uh, Susan Miller, who's a nurse in Pomona Unified School District. It says she'll help you get a job. Joanne Ferguson, retired school teacher, says will help you get a job teaching. Herr Baron just mentions what a good seamstress you are, things you can get a job. National association of social workers, uh, assist women getting access to community resources. So, we have all of these, um, people that are willing to hook you up with a job. And then we have of course, Linda Grippy offering to pay you some money to support yourself. But what do you think about how you're going to support yourself? What's your plan to support yourself?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I see that there are quite a few options for me. One of the things is that with, um, Chasey left out of the prison, the prison right now. I, I usually get a letter from the Dean of Instruction that, um, there would be a possibility of me becoming a online tutor. I, I would like to see if that could happen. I would like to become a grant writer for programs that I believe in and help them do that. I, um, I know that Actor's Gang Prison Project hires people to become part of their program and they pay rather well. And I also, um, know that the Anti-Recidivism Coalition pays and you can become a, um, mentor also through that. So, I think I have quite a few options available.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah, I think you can. As the document show, you do. Um, so then we have numerous other letters of support. They're constantly coming in, even after the 10-day period. Um, and, um, generally they're along the lines of, you know, you made a mistake, you've changed, you're releasable, and you'd probably be prosocial if released. Um, many people have known you for many years. Other people just seem to have been, uh, taken by your case, so to speak. Um, so, um, we're taking those into consideration. The entire C-file is part of our review, not just what we talk about. Um, I want to turn it back to Commissioner. I'm sure he’s got more questions.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay, Mr. Taylor, thank you very much for taking your time to ask those questions again. I'm sorry, I didn’t get on it, but it can— it kind of got started a little awkward, I should have had your back there and asking you that question, but, uh, thank you for asking those questions again. Uh, I did have a couple questions for you. Um, what's caused your behavior to be nonviolent for 50 years?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Living with -- when, when they abolished the death penalty, I knew that I, number one, was going to have to live with what I did. And also, it was like a new beginning for me. And I made a commitment to myself that I would not deliberately hurt another human being, both physically, emotionally. And I was young, so there have been times I've made mistakes and I'm sure that I have hurt people along the way. But my goal has always been be someone that encourages and cares and, um, I just live my life like that. I don't, I don't respond violently. When, when I get angry, my first response is not to lash out. My first response is to step away, evaluate. You know, that's, that's how I handle severe frustration.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: So, what do you think your chronos tell us about how you might do if released?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I think they tell you that I'm a thoughtful person, that I'm open to ideas, that I'm willing to take the time to work out what I'm sensing and feeling, that I use resources, that I rely on, um, my intuition and follow it, that I'm a compassionate person now. It's also important that I make sure that I'm also work on having that same compassion for me, that, that I don't allow myself to begin to tear myself apart. That, that's where the danger comes for false thinking. Do you know what I mean? And I think that the chronos say that I have, I'm aware of all of this, and I don't believe that I am beyond having to pay attention to what's going on inside of me.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: And Ms. Van Houten, uh, how would you respond to high-risk situations upon, upon release?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: What kind of situations?


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh, high-risk? I have a, yeah, I have a set of people that I would talk to.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would immediately seek out, if I have a therapist, I definitely would talk to them. I would remove myself, number one, from whatever, if it was immediate. If it was an immediate high-risk, I would remove myself. If it were one that I felt I had to call the police, I would call them.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: If, um, I would then turn to the people that I trust and know that I'll get honest feedback from and, um, call my agent. That would probably be the first thing if I thought it was high risk. I'd let my parole agent know immediately. I'm hoping, if I ever have that day, that I'll have a very close relationship with my parole agent.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would see them as my primary person.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. I want to take you through the comprehensive risk assessment. We went through this in January of 2019. Uh, you know, uh, the, uh, doctor, Dr. Athans in this case, psychological evaluation that was done November, uh, 2018, um, said that you’re oriented to person, place, time, and purpose of the evaluation. Pleasant and well spoken, seemed invested in the interview process. You took your time to provide thoughtful responses to pertinent questions posed to you. The doctor, uh, Dr. Athans stated that, uh, he goes through your substance abuse history. Uh, at the last hearing, we did note the year, it was on page 9, uh, where it says that, uh, she, she mostly used LSD and marijuana and specified that her use spanned a four-year period therein. She also reported having used substances prior to her resentencing while she lived in the community. Uh, you noted that that was an error and you disagreed with that at the last hearing. It's the same report, so I'm, I'm just putting that on the record as something that you had stated previously as being an error. Um, and I believe your attorney also spoke to that. Uh, the institutional and parole plans have been gone over by the Deputy Commissioner. Uh, your PCLR score, as far as assessment risk for violence, they use a tool called the HCR-20. The PCLR score was below the mean for North American female inmates and below the cutoff or threshold commonly used to identity antisocial or psychopathic personality. Uh, the doctor also looks at the life crime and asked a series of questions that you respond to. Um, she also notes that, uh, the youthful offender and as such, uh, the law requires that we give great weight to that. She also talks about elderly parole eligibility, which you also qualify and says Ms. Van Houten, uh, appears to have seized every opportunity provided to her to make positive changes in her life, with respect to education, vocation, and selfhelp. At present her risk for violent reoffending is in a low range, and does not appear as though age-related concerns will impact her ability to parole successfully. Then she, uh, she closes by saying that your, I mean, the doctor closes by saying that you're a low risk for violence if released in the free community. You've read this report numerous times and all the previous ones, and, um, my question to you last time was, did you agree with the report and you said, “Yes, I do.” Now, I'm gonna ask you, again, do you have any other thoughts regarding the psychological report by Dr. Athans?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No. I thought it was a fair assessment of me.





PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Deputy Commissioner, do you have any questions before I go, go to Ms. Lebowitz for clarifying questions?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Thank you. No further questions.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. District Attorney Lebowitz, have you got any further or follow-up question for the panel?

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Um, before I ask clarifying questions, if I may be so bold as to request, when the Deputy Commissioner announced that the recording hadn't started, there was something that the inmate said that I would like to put on the record, and I would like her to, um, to confirm that this is what she said. When the Deputy Commissioner asked her, “What is a healthy relationship with the opposite sex?” her answer was, “You mean what I would imagine it to be?” And then summarizing two people would give opposing viewpoints, not harming or demeaning the other, not having to have your way all the time, having other interests, other friends, discussing emotions and freedom to voice your own opinions. That's what I would imagine.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay and your clarifying question is?

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Okay. Clarifying questions are, and unfortunately, when my microphone is on, Commissioner Grounds, I get every other syllable from you, so I'll mute my microphone when you ask the question, when the inmate answers. Uh, my question is, the Deputy Commissioner asked, you had a distorted view of the consequences at the time and the inmate's answer was, yes. My question is what was the inmate’s view of the consequences at the time?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: What was your view of the consequences at the time?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: You're speaking about my actions at the, um, Ranch with Charles Manson?

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: The consequences of the murders.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That there would be a revolution.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Consequences of the murders. Do you have no—

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That there would, oh. Do you want me to answer?


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Okay. I, I believe that consequences at the time would be the revolution, that it would spark the revolution.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Could the panel please ask the inmate why she disregarded what her parents and the church taught her?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Why did you disregard, uh, what your parents and you, you know, at your prior hearing, you did talk about being a part of a youth group and going to church with your family. Uh, why did you disregard that?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because I was turning my back on the foundation of what makes a civilized society. I was turning my back on my parents. I was doing that basically through the consequence of my abortion. I turned my back on the church because I felt that I had found a person who was redefining it, you know. I had already turned my back on the conventional by studying with self-realization fellowship.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Thank you. Uh, the inmate told the panel that she thought that the Actor's Gang paid a pretty good salary. Could the panel please ask the inmate what salary amount she considers to be a pretty good salary to support herself?

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: You know, what do you see yourself as needing to make? Uh, you did mention that as far as the, they, they pay a pretty good salary. What is that in your mind in today's economy?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It’s a part-time job that when you work with them, you can make up to $30 an hour, and I think that's pretty good salary. I'm under the impression that most of my peers, when they get out, start at $15 an hour.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you, ma'am. Ms. Lebowitz?

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Thank you. I have no further questions.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Mr. Pfeiffer counsel, do you have any clarifying questions for your client?

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: I do. I actually have, um, a good number. A lot of the questions I have, focus around, um, what we were talking about as actions and consequences. At the time, um, uh, being at the ranch, before the murders, what were the consequences at the ranch?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, you mean with law enforcement?

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Uh, first with Manson. If you displeased Manson, what were the consequences?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: He would be nice to, uh, not, not demean us, you know. If, if I, if I was going along with the program, then my life was pretty steady. If I, um, didn't, then there was a repercussion, humiliation.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Were you and -- were you aware of other family members or cult members committing crimes before the murders?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Was law enforcement getting involved in those crimes?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Were people arrested?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We got arrested, but let us go. They arrested us and then let us go.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: How many times were you arrested in and never, um, filed charges on?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I believe four, three or four.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: So, did you believe that you can commit crimes and not face legal consequences at that time?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, I believed in the revolution, so I really wasn't thinking of consequences. They, they weren't part of the, my make-up. I, I believed that a revolution was going to happen.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I didn’t think about being arrested.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. You talked about the big raid shortly after the murders. Were you arrested then?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Were you charged?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Do you know what they found during that raid?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, dune buggies and weapons and probably, um, drugs, I'd assume.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Do you know what kind of weapons?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, yeah, uh, there was a machine-- Danny DeCarlo, one of the bikers brought his gun collection, so I know there was an Uzi with no ammunition and there were, uh, there was a machine gun and rifles. I, I, I'm not, I can't tell you names of weapons. I just know there, those, those two and there were rifles and guns.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. And after all of those weapons were confiscated, was anybody charged with a crime?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, not to my knowledge, I don't know. I don't know if Danny DeCarlo was or not.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. Do you know if Manson, he was on parole at the time, if he was charged with a parole violation at that time?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: So, with your mind back then, were there really any consequences for acting illegally?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: With the police?



ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: When, when you talked about Manson describing himself as the son of man and, um, his divinity and that he had died on the cross with forgiveness, did you think that that could be anyone else except for Jesus Christ?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Did you think that following the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, would be a good thing for you to do for your future? And I'm not talking just the physical future of your life, I mean, the emotional. The Christians believe that you, you know, go to heaven and you live with God forever. Did you, did he, you know, give that kind of information to you?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That's what I meant by obligated, that on a spiritual level, if I was part of a group of people around Christ, then I was obligated to be as dedicated as I could be. That, that's where I was at, at that time.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: What was your thought process about your physical wellbeing? I know that Manson talked to several people, yourself included, and said, “Will you die for me?” And what did that mean to you?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Giving up my life.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: And would that be the end of you, period, or would that be just the physical life or the spiritual life or was there a difference?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It, it was giving up the shell of my body and then my spirit would live on.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: And how long do you believe your spirit would live on?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, forever.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: When, um, Manson told Tex Watson, we're losing this one, keep an eye on her, how did that make you feel?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Like I belonged.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Was he watching you at that point?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I belonged to be there. I’m sorry, what?

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Was he watching you at that point, keeping an eye on you? What does that mean?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I didn't know it. I didn't know it until he said that.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Did you know there was a confidential informant at the ranch a month before the murders?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Have you learned about that since then?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: How does that make you feel?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I mean, I was told that, what does that mean, you know.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Well, in, in some of the latest documents, there was an exhibit which was a search warrant for that big raid. Did you read that?


ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. Okay. When Commissioner Grounds talked to you about, you were not violent, basically your whole life until these murders and you get violent in these murders, um, with this group, and then afterwards, there's no more violence for the next 50 years, um, obviously this group, you know, controlling Manson, um, had an influence on your violence. What would, what would happen today if you were with a group that ventured into that area?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would leave, I would report them, I wouldn't, I wouldn't find myself that long around people that think like that. I, I don't in here, you know. I don't, I don't put myself around violent people.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. You're a chairman of the, um, Inmate Advisory Committee. And in that position, I'm sure that you have to tell inmates a lot of things that they don't want. Um, what's their reaction?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I think the key word is advise, and so I try to advise people on how they can take care of their problems. Sometimes they take it well, sometimes they don't, but I do it as forthright as I'm able to, and they basically can walk away angry, walk away with a direction to take care of their problem, or walk away content. It, it, that's how I deal with it.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. In prison. I, you know, I know that this can be a potentially volatile position that you're in. Why do you do it?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I, I like the, I like being able to use my 50 years’ experience to try to connect between the administration and the population. This is a small prison, and I like the idea that we can have good programs, that it's a programming prison and I like being in touch with the younger people. Being reminded of where I came from, I think is very important. It's important to never forget where you came from, so, uh, it's very satisfying.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: A lot of people who you've been, you've had the advantage of being able to work with them through programs and they've gotten out and they've had successful lives and they've written letters, um, basically acknowledging, um, the foundation of their rehabilitation, in large part, had to do with what you taught them while they were with you. How does that make you feel?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It makes me feel good, you know, that it's a very small way of being a living amends for the damage that I did when I was young. It's rewarding. It gives me value.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: If you were granted parole, would you be able to continue to do those kinds of things?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would hope so, but like I said earlier, it depends on, um, my relationship with my agent. You know, I would love to take the lessons that I've learned in life and try to help lower the recidivism rates. That would be extremely satisfying to me. And if it works out that way, then that's what I would dedicate my life to. Same thing I'm doing in here.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: When you talked about, um, having to live with what you did, um, after the death penalty was abolished, um, how has that affected you internally?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's made me a very responsible human being. It's made me grateful. It’s made me who I am today, very cognizant of the significance of my actions, thankful.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: These, I mean, it's unusual that inmates would get letters from so many people who were, um, the program, people would come in and do the programs at CIW and associate wardens and staff members that have known you for 30 years. Um, why do you think you got so many of those letters?

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I took the time to know the individuals. I listened to them. When, um, Mr. Lee was the AW, we would have discussions. You know, I, I don't know what to say. It's just, I'm being myself and the people that writes the letters care about that and they care about me. I, I don't know what else to say.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. I have no further questions.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I take the time to just be with them.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Pfeiffer. We’re gonna move on then to closing statements at this time. And if the attorneys could keep it within 10 minutes, it would be appreciated, but, uh, unless you need to, so if you need more time, I understand. So, um, District Attorney Lebowitz, if you would please, ma’am.

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Thank you. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office requests the finding of unsuitability at this time.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Okay. Sorry, I think your, your voice, for some reason, coming at a very low volume. Now you're muted.

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Yeah. You know what, can I try getting an ear piece, because I'm getting every other syllable from you and I imagine you're getting every other syllable from me.


DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Or I can sign back out and sign back in, again.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: Yeah, I'm not getting any, any echo effect on my end. Now I am.

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Okay. Let me sign back out and sign back in again.




DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY LEBOWITZ: Okay, good. Okay. Thank you. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office requests a finding of unsuitability for this inmate. In the case of in re Lawrence, in rare circumstances, the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a basis for denying parole, even when there are strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness. I would like to describe the facts that support a finding of unsuitability pursuant to in re Lawrence, and also argue that the testimony taken here in this hearing shows that the inmate has not addressed the governor's concern and is therefore a nexus to current dangerousness. Under the Lawrence standard, this is one of those rare cases. This was a history-making, life-changing case on several levels. As the inmate discussed in her testimony, it affected not only the people that were immediately connected to the crime, but this affected society. It changed the way neighbors related to neighbors, it changed the entertainment industry, it changed society's belief that they were safe in their own homes, and as the inmate told you, it changed the world. There are thousands of inmates still incarcerated in CDCR at this time. Most are anonymous except to their victims, their victim’s families, and their friends and their own families and friends. Those whose crimes were reported in the media are not as anonymous, but most of the public doesn't remember their name after the news story goes away. But if you ask people on the street, “Who is Leslie Van Houten?” people know exactly who she is. Why? Because she's a Manson family member and she committed one of the most notorious murders in the history of the American Criminal Justice System. The murders in the LaBianca home were not an isolated crime. The murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, as the inmate told you, started off as part of a revolution, killing in the name of an ideology. Today, we call them terrorists. This was a terrorist organization into which the inmate told you today, in her own, well, and, she didn't tell us today in these words, but in prior transcripts, she told us that she bought into it, hook, line, and sinker. There was a situation that proceeded the murders of the LaBianca’s and those at the Tate residence. There was an incident where Charles Manson believed that he killed a drug dealer named Bernard Crowe, an African- American man that was providing drugs to the family, and possibly a Black Panther. As you will read in prior transcripts and as the inmate told you today, that this belief about the Black Panthers and the murder, or the attempted murder of Bernard Crowe, sort of moved up the timeline for the start of the revolution, and they needed money to fund the revolution. They needed money to fund, to fund that hole in the desert, that the inmate told you that she was going to live in for 150 years and to survive there. So, what did they do? After brainstorming at Spahn Ranch, Manson sent people to Gary Hinman's house to shake him down for money. And when he didn't have the money and didn't give them the money, they tortured Gary Hinman over a three-day period and killed him. Following that, there was the massacre at the Tate residence. Five people and Sharon Tate's unborn son were murdered in that blood bath. And it was so significant to the revolution that on the next day, when they sought out to murder more people, that Manson specifically instructed the participants, including the inmate, that the murders at the Tate residence, the night before, were too bloody. It was too messy. Don't scare them like they were scared the night before. And that's why Manson and Tex Watson went into the LaBianca house first, to see if they could calm them down before the slaughter would begin. The family trained for months for this massacre. If you do consider the transcripts from the Franklin hearing that are, are contained in the C-file and you do consider the testimony of Catherine Share, also in the C-file, she talked about the bootcamp that occurred at the ranch and how they trained to prepare for the revolution. And as part of the bootcamp, Tex Watson would teach the family members how to insert the knife into a body and adjust it, so that it would cause immediate death. At the same time, Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson were engaged in the slaughter at the LaBianca house, Manson, Linda Kasabian, and Steve Grogan left the LaBianca house and drove down to the beach, because they were looking for more people to kill that night. And as the inmate told you, this was not going to happen on just one night or two nights. This was going to happen every night. As they drove out to the beach, Charles Manson asked Linda Kasabian, “Hey, what about that actor you know?” So Linda Kasabian drove to an apartment building where the actor lived and, but for the fact that Ms. Kasabian deliberately went to the wrong floor, there would have been another murder on behalf of the revolution, on behalf of the ideology, on behalf of the terrorist group. But she deliberately did not go to the right apartment and thankfully that man's life was spared. The next murder, the murder of Donald Shea occurred because Manson believed that Donald Shea was a snitch and would reveal the identity of those responsible for murdering and terrorizing Los Angeles in 1969, or you may think, well, those other murders didn't have anything to do with this inmate. But the inmate said, up to two years after she was convicted, that she still bought into this philosophy. And so every act of this terrorist organization is imputed to her because this was her belief, her active engagement in their preparation activities, her active engagement in the murders at the LaBianca house on behalf of the revolution, and on behalf of her desire for Manson's ideology to succeed. Based on Lawrence, it is the people's position that this is one of those rare cases. I also put forth the fact that the inmate has not satisfied the governor's concerns in her area of lack of insight and lack of, um, willingness to commit the crimes, her reasons for her willingness to commit the crimes. I also use an example, as an example, a personal experience that I had just before the 2017 hearing. When I drove into a commercial parking lot and I saw a man with a tattoo of Charles Manson that span the entire length of his forearm, I could see it when I first drove into the lot and it surprised me. That is the kind of impact that these crimes had upon society. Random people don't have tattoos of random inmates on their arms, but they have them of Charles Manson, and this inmate committed crimes in his name and to further his ideologies. As the sentencing judge said, this case is a special one. It will burn in the public consciousness for a long period of time. This case is the exact type of case that Lawrence addresses. I ask the panel to find the inmate unsuitable for parole, based upon the case of in re Lawrence and (unintelligible) to satisfy the public safety. Thank you, thank you.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you, District Attorney Lebowitz. Uh, counsel, please.

ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Thank you, Commissioner. Uh, I first like to address, um, Ms. Lebowitz’s comments and I have great respect for Ms. Lebowitz, by the way. Um, that dicta in in re Lawrence that talks about the rare circumstances that a crime can be, uh, so egregious that, that alone is a reason to deny parole despite complete rehabilitation. Since Lawrence was decided, there's not one single case that's been, um, upheld based on that, except possibly, I mean, there’s the argument that this case is that case, um, because Ms. Van Houten has been denied parole, but it's, it's not been just for that reason. It's been for a lot of the reasons that the governors throw out, you know, failure to take responsibility by describing what Manson did at these parole hearings. When you ask her the question she's answering truthfully, um, and, and how can she answer that and not cast some of the blame on Manson as well. The DA's Office themselves, in their letter in 2016 to the Supreme Court, their theory of the case was everybody acted at Manson’s behest. He was in complete control of these people. And listening to Ms. Van Houten today describes that control that he exerted over the people there. Um, this is a history-changing case, but not for what Ms. Van Houten did, but for what Charles Manson did, and there's a big difference between Manson's crimes and Ms. Van Houten’s crimes. Ms. Van Houten was, um, she said she didn't pull her weight at the LaBianca, um, crime scene. She was unable to act the way she was taught and trained, and, you know, she felt like she let down Charles Manson, who she believed was Jesus Christ. Um, the rest of all of these other crimes that Ms. Lebowitz talks about, Bernard Crowe, Gary Hinman, the Tate crimes, uh, Donald Shea, they have nothing to do with Ms. Van Houten. And if they did, this would be one of those rare circumstances, possibly under Lawrence, but, but they don't relate to Ms. Van Houten. She didn’t even know the Tate murders went down until the next day. Um, as far as Catherine Share and, and I, I forgot to ask Ms. Van Houten this one question that I think is important was, and I found this out my, with my last meeting with her was how long did it take Catherine Share to basically recruit you to go to the ranch and, and become part of this cult? And I thought it was a, you know, a weekend or something. It was almost two months. She didn't just jump in and run to the ranch. It was two months of Catherine Share telling her how great this place was and she had nothing else. She was in San Francisco, out of money, and everything else, and, uh, you know, but it still took two months. Um, as far as someone having a tattoo of Charles Manson on their arm, again, that's, that's Charles Manson's crime. You know, Ms. Lebowitz didn't see anybody with a tattoo of Leslie Van Houten on their arm. Um, when you look, look at all of these letters that came in, and the two categories that I think are the most important are all of those inmates, through all of those years who have gotten out and stayed out and lived productive lives, and given due credit to Ms. Van Houten’s, you know, leading a foundation of their rehabilitation through the programs, by leading them by example in prison, and then back that up with all of these prison staff members that talk about, you know, how much she contributed to all these programs. And Denise Green was, in her letter, which, um, Deputy Commissioner Taylor, um, addressed a little bit, she said, um, although Ms. Van Houten has participated and facilitated several groups, I believe the one group which made the most impact, not only in her life, but also the lives of all who had participated in the groups with her as a facilitator is the Victim Offender Education Group. And then, those are the kinds of differences that Ms. Van Houten has made through her rehabilitation, to be able to contribute to her, um, living amends as she puts it. Um, Ms. Van Houten came so close to leaving this ranch just before the, the murders took place, when Sammy came there and the biker, but the peer pressure, when he came back to pick her up, with everybody standing around her stopped that. As you can see today, the peer pressure from prison inmates wanting certain things through the Inmate Advisory Council, they don't get it with Ms. Van Houten. Sometimes, she has to tell them bad news, but she's able to do it in a way to where she hasn't had to suffer any consequences. That's potentially a violent situation in prison when you tell inmates, no, you're not going to get what you want. Um, but she's able to do it and she's able to continue to do it and she gets to listen to people and solve problems when, when she can, and when she can't explain why she can't, and this is a tremendous internal growth. This is, compare that to the broken person who went to the Spahn Ranch who didn't believe in herself, who was very vulnerable to someone like Charles Manson to be able to indoctrinate her. And she wasn't alone. He indoctrinated a lot of people. Um, some of the tipping points that she, we talked about today. You know, the first big one was, she felt like she was broken and deeply wounded after the abortion. Um, when she met Catherine Share, she was at an all-time low. She had no income. Um, she was offered a good life at the ranch. Um, at the ranch, uh, Manson needed to be in control and she said she needed someone to control her. There was that, some people are controllers and some people are codependents and that time, she was a codependent, and those days are over. Um, Ms. Van Houten stands up for herself today. She doesn't need someone else to tell her what to do. She doesn't need someone else to tell her she's doing it right. She knows internally she's doing the right things. Um, the LSD that was used in conjunction with, with Manson's manipulation of all these people played a big role in it. Um, she talked about the differences between a false leader and a true leader and I think that those differences that she described were very insightful and she would be able to recognize someone who's trying to lead her astray in the future. Um, and she also would recognize a true leader and someone who she want to, maybe, you know, hook up with or associate with on a project or something. Um, again, she says, there's just no justifying what she did in this murder. It's shameful and she has to live with it the rest of her life. That's part of the penalty. The, um, Ms. Lebowitz talked a little bit about the sentencing court. Well, the sentencing judge in the third trial, um, he originally considered giving her probation, and when there was opposition, um, he acknowledged that no judge in California has ever given a first-degree murder probation, and he couldn't do it, but he gave her the next lowest sentence, which was seven years to life on each of the two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy, and he could run them consecutively, but he didn't, he ran them concurrently. And at that time, Ms. Van Houten had over eight years of credit served already, and she was eligible for parole at the time of sentencing. That was the intent of the sentencing judge who heard the witnesses, who saw the evidence. Um, and it would be wonderful to know what that sentencing judge would think today. What was it, you know, 45 years later or so? Or I think it’s 43 years later, she's still in prison, I think, and after what she's done in prison, I think the sentencing judge would be really upset. Um, the, the living amends that Ms. Van Houten lives on a daily basis and has for decades, um, they speak for themselves. There's nothing I can say that's gonna speak any louder than that. This is who, who she is. This is who Ms. Van Houten is today. The law is, if she's not a current unreasonable risk to public safety, she shall be granted parole. She was actually given a chance to prove that between the second and third trial. She was out on bail for six and a half months and had absolutely no problems. Um, she says one of the important people in her life, if granted parole, is going to be the parole officer, and that's very believable in, when you look at her relationship with the staff members at CIW. The first time I represented Ms. Van Houten at a parole hearing where she was granted parole and I went back to see her, and we're just finalizing some potential, um, plans for parole, every staff member that I encountered at that prison, they either hugged me or shook my hand. That's what they feel. They know her. They see her every day and that's how they felt. I’m just going to ask you to follow the law, find that she’s not a current unreasonable risk to public safety. There was nothing today that (unintelligible) unreasonable risk and for that matter, I would ask you to grant her parole.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Pfeiffer. Um, Ms. Van Houten, uh, now is your opportunity to address the panel with a closing statement.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I wanna say thank you for having this opportunity today to speak with you. I've answered every question that I can in the most honest way possible. I have worked very hard to become the person that I am today. I regret and have deep remorse for my actions. I offer the sincerest apology to the LaBianca Family and to those that were, um, victims at the Tate house. I'm terribly sorry for the devastation I caused in everyone's life and I do my best to make recompense in who I am today. I appreciate this opportunity, and I hope that I was able to convey to you the sincere nature of my heart today. Thank you.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you. And we’re gonna, uh, we're going to hear from Victim’s Next of Kin, uh, Ms. Debra Tate, did you want to speak, ma’am?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: She’s muted, she’s muted.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Uh, Ms. Debra Tate, you are muted.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: She can unmute herself.

VNOK TATE: Okay, thank you. Thank you and commissioners, can you hear me now?


VNOK TATE: I’ve got a terrible echo on my end, but I'm going to try to do this anyway. Uh, Mr. Pfeiffer brought up the, uh, Brady hearing, which I was at. Ms. Van Houten lost that hearing. There have been several appeals in the second court of appeal of which Ms. Van Houten also lost. There have been several appeals in the Superior Court, which I've also been privy to, and she lost those. So, almost is something that only counts in horseshoes. How could you have so many judges and so many people review the circumstances, circumstances that in all due respect, uh, Commissioners, you folks don't necessarily see. Um, I have the privilege of hearing each and every one of her crime partners’ testimonies in their hearings. There have been circumstances where crime partners have just recently come forward with the information that individuals, not previously mentioned, we're at other murders. What this tells me, which is a huge concern is that these people were and are still protecting and omitting information. If an individual is not coming clean with everything, if one person has a question about honesty, then I believe I have questions on a person's suitability for their safety within a free society. She stated that she didn't pull her weight. She didn't pull her weight by stabbing 14 to 16 times, Mrs. LaBianca? Mr. Pfeiffer will say that. Mr. Pfeiffer’s statements were different statements that are being made are revictimizing us victims over and over again. There are inconsistency from one hearing to the next, even the last time you were present, uh, Commissioner Grounds, which you can see. Um, she talks about recompense, but yet Mr. LaBianca, Mr. Smaldino, excuse me, has asked for a letter repeatedly for many, many years of which nobody has ever got. I just recently found out that, that exercise of saying, she's sorry via letter is merely that, it’s an exercise. It’s something taught by the department and then torn up or throttled up and put into a trash can. She has never made an attempt to say she's sorry for her actions, except in that room and that further victimizes us. What is the count of conspiracy that nobody ever talks about? I happen to know that conspiracy has to be proven in a certain way and at the time, the District Attorney's Office didn't believe that they can put as many conspiracy, uh, and win as many conspiracies as they felt were existing in this case. I have been told that they specifically believe anybody in those rooms, doing those exercises, were indeed guilty of conspiracy. So, Ms. Van Houten could have stopped further loss of life at any given time. And at what point in time are her victims going to get a second chance? How many second chances, third chances, fourth chances, fifth chances does an individual get when they have paid the ultimate price with their lives? How many times is their, is their murderer going to get at, at being able to reexplain, re-invent, have instruction under the best circumstances and have people listen to them? I realize the little faux pas the law that happen, but let us not forget that these people were condemned for their action. In today's society, they would be considered domestic terrorists. These are and were and still are a very dangerous gang of people that are once again, very pertinent due to the volatility of society out here with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Uh, I personally have gotten threats from one of their great supporters called Adam Moore that have caused me to have to move. Now, is that directly connected to her? Maybe, maybe not. I was warned about this group by security at Corcoran Prison. These peoples still talk to each other. They're still linked and involved, and for those reasons, I personally commend Ms. Van Houten for the good things that she's done. I think I'm very happy with her being where she is and having her spend her second chance in helping other individuals, but her crime is greater than the crime of those folks that she's helping. Let her stay where she is and spend the rest of her days, if she really wants to make recompense with the families and her victims. I have great fear of this woman, great fear, because of the actions that she chose back then. I have great question as to whether or not there's truth in what she has to say, because we can all perform well in a controlled environment. Things get a little tougher when you have, when you don't have people with sidearms calling the shots. I would like to ask you to consider all of these things. I would like you to consider not only the individual, but the actions of the group that she committed to. I would like you to consider the damage that her actions did and continue to do, and I would like you to question yourselves as to, if you weren't actually answering the questions for the inmate, which you did last time also, Mr. Grounds, I'm only mentioning this because maybe you actually don't realize you're doing it, but you did then and you’re doing it now. Would she have all the right answer? We all need to ask ourselves because the mistakes were made before they are paramount, they cost people's lives, and I think I need a little more proof. I just, I'm not seeing the proof. There's also the fact that just, to my knowledge, four years ago, 2016, a romantic in nature relationship with a man that was convicted of a double homicide in two different States, committed suicide. That's what ended that pen pal romantic in nature relationship, which tells me, she still has questionable taste or perhaps is attracted to the same kind of person. That one for me personally is huge. That one for other LaBianca families is huge. We have, uh, Mr. LaBianca’s grandson can't even participate because it is too emotional. His mother is also too emotional. There is that much fear of this one woman, one woman, regardless if you separate her from the rest of the pack that she was involved in. She still announces that kind of fear. In my petition, there is 170 signatures against her, and there is 28,000 people that wrote comments and they all find their name and their whereabouts too. There's a lot of opposition. I'm also concerned about Ms. Van Houten’s security. I don't want violence continue itself against society or against the inmate herself and for that reason, I think I would like to ask you not to give her a date.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: All right. Ms. Tate, thank you so much for your statements and for your presence here today.

VNOK TATE: Thank you.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: All right. Okay, um, at this time, I'd like to ask, um, Mr. Smaldino, sir, if you’d like to speak at this time?

VNOK SMALDINO: Um, can you hear me, sir?


VNOK SMALDINO: All right, good. Uh, good afternoon, uh, and thank you for allowing me to speak, uh, to our grief this morning. Uh, my name is Louis Smaldino and I'm the-- excuse me, oldest nephew of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Um, this is my 15th attendance, uh, at a hearing for Ms. Van Houten, uh, which is just amazing to me that I've had to do it this many times. During these hearings, I have heard, uh, one, uh, denial and minimization of her participation of these gruesome murders and a downplaying of her role, uh, you know, uh, like she was forced to do this. Uh, it's always, um, her participation in these, uh, gruesome, uh, murder, murders as always, uh, downplaying her role in the whole conspiracy. Her claims of spousal abuse, uh, was her latest ploy, uh, here, a year and a half or two ago. Her claim that Rosemary was always already dead when she stabbed her, uh, 17 times on a previous hearing. What kind of a person is Ms. Van Houten to abuse the parole process, uh, in this manner? I have tried to put myself in her shoes and frankly, uh, I'm just incapable of doing that. However, um, if I had participated and conspired to kill all these innocent young people and even an unborn child, I could never ask for parole, because I could never make up for the, all the lives I was responsible for taking. I would consider incarceration a just punishment, uh, and try to serve my time, uh, faithfully, uh, to make my life better. But that is not what you have in front of you today. You have someone who thinks that, uh, in her twisted mind that they deserve, uh, to be set free because they have served, uh, several years in jail. Ms. Van Houten was already paroled, which she was given a life instead of a death penalty for, uh, these heinous crimes. The impact on my family has been enormous. The five children, uh, even grandchildren are still paralyzed as adults and they sought refuge in anonymity and cannot bring themselves to stand in front of you and confront this person. Luckily, uh, you know, I've been able to do that. I visited with, uh, Corey, the oldest child and her children and asked her to come to the hearing. She said, it's still too painful and frightening for her. Her son, uh, Tony de LaMontagne, feels victimized. Uh, he's been to a few hearings, but, uh, he just found it too painful and, uh, too emotionally draining to do this. She's still, uh, Corey is still scarred for life, you know, as a 60-year-old woman, so I've come to give voice to our family as the oldest living kin. My mother, Leno's sister, uh, older sister, and my grandmother, uh, Leno's mother, have passed on, but, uh, they were never the same emotionally and physically, uh, and psychically, uh, after these murders. They both lost their joy, which was heartbreaking to us as a family, and living and suffered immensely, uh, with the loss of, until they died. A big impact was the family source of revenue which was the family grocery business, which failed due to the loss of its CEO and leader, uh, who is Leno. This was a large financial loss to the entire family. Personally, uh, I am disgusted with Ms. Van Houten. She feints remorse, but is really calculating. She wants to beat the system. She thinks she deserves to be set free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her goal is a release from prison because she thinks she has paid her dues. I am here to let you know that she can never pay, uh, in this life, which he did to those that I loved and cherished. You will hear from others, uh, and today who will give voice to the pain of our family has endured like Ms. Tate. Leno and Rosemary were in the prime of their lives, mid 40’s, and that means we lost half their lives. We lost their joy, spontaneity, wisdom, guidance, intelligence, and most of all, their love in our lives. Ms. Van Houten cannot give this back to us, ever. I would like to, uh, speak to the crime a bit. This was not a crime of passion or an accident. This was cold, deliberate, and premeditated act of murder or murders, in the case of both, uh, occasions. Ms. Van Houten’s role was no accident or forced act. She knew what was going to happen, was willing to participate. She knew what happened at the Tate murders and was upset, you know, and that got left out in this hearing, that she did not participate. She volunteered. She wasn't forced to, or, you know, spousal abused into it or co-depended into it, she volunteered for Leno and Rosemary's murders. But what gets lost in all of this is that the whole Manson family, or Manson family are guilty of all the murders, because they conspired to start a race war by killing many innocent and vulnerable people and blaming it on African-Americans. How sinister is that? This is pure evil and antisocial, uh, with warped personalities. Ms. Van Houten is the poster child of what is wrong in society today, as we see on our streets, a lack of taking responsibility for our actions, you know, by definition a narcissist. The board should not allow her to be outside of prison walls. She should not be let outside of prison walls because it sends a strong message that you can commit murders like these, serve some time, and then go on like nothing ever happened. Unfortunately, something did happen. She is no less dangerous today than the day she participated in all these murders. Are you willing to let her live in your home where the stresses of everyday life occur and hope doesn't, hope she doesn't snap again? I don't think, I don't think so. She is a nightmare waiting to happen again. Her mindset and character flaws are a danger to society at large. Keep her and us like Ms. Tate stated with her in prison. It is your duty, uh, by your oath, uh, to represent us. Honestly, if I, I implore you not to force our governor to, to, uh, set her free, or, to, uh, incarcerate her, but for you to do your job. And, uh, that's the end of what I have to say today and, uh, I thank you for your time.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Mr. Smaldino, thank you very much for your time and for your statements here today. Uh, the time is two, 12:42 p.m. We’re going to take a break for deliberation at this point.




DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: On the record, on the record.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Okay. The date is 07/23/2020 and the time is approximately 1:19 p.m. All parties that were present have returned for the pronouncement of the panel's decision. Inmate was received at CDCR on August 17th, 1978 from LA County with controlling offenses of two counts of murder, first, and conspiracy. Case number is A253156. She has an MEPD or Minimum Eligible Parole Date of August 17th, 1978. The victims are Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. According to the California Supreme Court, in making a parole eligibility decision, this panel must not act arbitrarily and capriciously. It must consider all relative and reliable information available. In this case, the panel reviewed the central file, the comprehensive risk assessment, additional documents submitted to the panel, and all written responses received from the public. The panel also considered the statements of District Attorney, Ms. Lebowitz, counsel for inmate, Mr. Pfeiffer, and the testimony of Inmate Van Houten, as well as the statements of Louis Smaldino and Debra Tate. The confidential portion of the central file was reviewed and the panel did not consider the information related in nexus to current dangerousness. The fundamental consideration in making a parole eligibility decision is the potential threat to public safety upon an inmate's release. A denial must be based on the evidence of Inmate Van Houten’s current dangerousness. Having these legal standards in mind, the panel finds that Inmate Van Houten does not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety and is suitable for parole. Well, this decision is based on the fact that we took into consideration that you are a youthful offender. When prisoners committed their controlling offenses defined in Subdivision A of Penal Code Section 3051, prior to attaining 26 years of age, the panel will give great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and maturity of the prisoner in reviewing the prisoner's suitability for parole. We acknowledge that parts of the brain involved with behavioral control continue to mature through late adolescence. Adolescent brains are not yet fully mature and regions and systems related to higher-order functions such as impulse control, planning ahead, risk avoidance. So, there's a basic triad there, Ms. Van Houten, the first of which is diminished culpability. And we do believe that you exhibited extreme immature thinking in the way that you handled, uh, the traumatic events of your early teenage years, your abortion, uh, the breakup of your family. You started running away, you started rebelling, you started hanging around a different crowd of people, as opposed to pursuing the more academic approach that you had prior to the breakup of your family and prior to the abortion and the people that you're associating with. You also started, uh, just going out on the road and meeting other people and getting involved in drugs and we felt that that definitely contributed to a diminished culpability, uh, as, as it was commensurate with your age, and so we, we give great weight to that diminished culpability area. As well as the hallmark features of youth, we give great weight to that, uh, acknowledging that you have immature thinking with the way that you handled the breakup of your family, the abortion, and how you started, uh, hanging out with other people and basically joined Manson’s gang. That decision to go into there and be a part of that, uh, made you a very vulnerable to negative influences. You were reckless (unintelligible) and so we did give great weight for the hallmark features of youth as that commensurate with your, your age of 18, 19, 20, in those years. You definitely displayed immature thinking. You didn't have a sense of responsibility and you're very impulsive. But at the same time, those hallmark features of youth reflect that you're more capable of change. The last part of that triad is subsequent growth and maturity, in that you’re more capable of change at a portion of the hallmark features of youth has been reflected in your life. You've attended numerous programs. You've done 50 years of positive behavior. That indicates that you've participated in long- time reflection, maturity of judgment, and appreciation of human worth, and remorse for the things that you did when you were 19 years old. The positive conduct reflects not only what your words reflected today, but more importantly, your behavior reflects a life that's turned around and reflects that, as in the hallmark features of youth, you're more capable of change and you demonstrated that. The record reflects some circumstances showing unsuitability, and we considered them during deliberations. The panel finds that they're outweighed by circumstances suggesting suitability, of that was contained in the governor's reversal letter, uh, the last one that he did, Governor Newsom, and we considered that. This decision does not diminish the fact of the life crimes committed by you were extremely heinous, cruel, really disturbing, (unintelligible) dispassionate. Your actions resulted in the deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Your reasons for committing the offense, your anger, your greed, your selfishness, your delusional belief system, your extreme gang mentality, in no way, justified your actions. In reaching this decision, the panel considered your prior criminality, which was quite minimal, except for your self-reported theft and drug use. We also considered what we believe to be Ms. Van Houten’s prior unstable social behavior, which included unstable and tumultuous relationships with others as evidenced by your relationships with your parents, the drug and alcohol use and addiction, and your running away. However, the panel recognizes that after a long period of time, factors such as the commitment offense, prior criminality, and unstable social history, they no longer indicate a current risk of danger to society in light of a lengthy period of rehabilitation, and you definitely have lengthy. In this case, over 50 years have passed and there are circumstances that tend to show suitability pursuant to Title 15, Section 2402 Subdivision D are present. Specifically, Ms. Van Houten does not possess a history of violent crime as a juvenile or an adult outside of the life crimes. No violence before the life crime, none after 50 years. She has a stable social history before and while incarcerated as evidenced by the fact she has no serious disciplinaries and had positive program. You’ve taken numerous self-help classes. You really demonstrated positive leadership for five decades. I've done over a thousand cases, done over a thousand hearings, and you're one of the best programming inmates I’ve seen. You've shown signs of remorse and accepting responsibility for your criminal actions as evidenced by your testimony. Your disciplinary-free behavior, your positive behavior, your words and your deeds agree with each other. There's no discrepancy, and I hold great weight to your behavior. You're of an age that reduces the probability of recidivism. You were much younger at the time, but you're no longer so susceptible to peer pressure and you've significantly matured. You were 19 then, you're 70 years old now. You’ve engaged in institutional behavior suggesting an enhanced ability to function with the law upon release, including the lack of serious misconduct while in prison as evident by laudatory chronos from numerous staff. Your self-help-- your participation in VOEG, I see, is not an easy job. A lot of people shoot themselves in the foot by taking that job, but you've handled it with grace and maturity and you've done so over a long period of time. That tells me that you have the ability to negotiate many hurdles and various personalities and hold your own. I remember going to see a graduation a few years back through the Education Department. I was sitting in the audience, um, when I was doing some work for CIM and as people came in and started to speak, it became very evident as to the positive impact you'd had on the lives of the students there. Uh, the, the great majority of them spoke to how you'd help them. I could see that you were having a very positive effect on the culture at CIW. Your self-help, your vocational upgrades, you've distanced yourself from a gang mentality, and that's what I call it. Uh, you can call it a terrorist group, that's what a gang is, it’s domestic terrorist group. It's a gang mentality that was run by a leader. And, uh, you know, during the course of my discussion, I, I noticed that the governor did, in his reversal, did state that I, I had, he didn't use my name, but it stated that I, that I'd said that you were in a leadership position and that's true. You're in a leadership position because you as a group moved to do these horrific crimes, but you weren't the leader of that gang. That, that crime doesn't happen unless Manson gets it done. (unintelligible) programs you’re a part of. Uh, stable relationships with inmates and staff were evident. (unintelligible). You have educational upgrades. You've gotten your Bachelor's in English Literature as well as your Master's in Humanities. One thing I like to speak to is the fact that you've created a tremendous, uh, significant support system inside prison for yourself, as well as other people. And you've also developed one for the outside, so that your transition could be as smooth as you could possibly make it. You have realistic residential plans, you developed marketable skills that can be put to use, you demonstrated means of support or the ability to have options upon release. The hearing panel notes the responses to PC 3042 notice as indicating opposition to finding a suitability for parole, specifically from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. We also note that the comprehensive risk assessment prepared by Dr. Athans on 11/01/2018 found that Ms. Van Houten presents a statistically low risk of re-offense in the free community due to, well, you've been found a low risk for decades, numerous psych reports. I would like to read a few things from Dr. Athan’s report. On page 11, Dr. Athans says, “Ms. Van Houten has a history of engaging in impulsive behavior, including drug use, promiscuity, and her involvement of the life crime reflects a callous lack of empathy for the victims. Nonetheless, absent are a number of characteristics commonly seen in psychopathic individuals. For nearly 50 years, she has exhibited prosocial behaviors and sought positive relationships with others. She has not shown herself to be deceptive, cunning, or to have a lack of remorse. The PCLR score is below the mean for North American female inmates.” And that, this was done back in 2018, so it has been 50 years. Um, I do want to look at page 12. It says, “Ms. Van Houten demonstrate, demonstrated insight into her contributing factors of the life crime and was able to adequately discuss the causative factors as well. Over the years, she has participated extensively in self-help programs, including individual therapy, which have helped her understand the pertinent factors that allowed her to become involved in the life, in the life crime. Although she spoke of her susceptibility to the influence of Manson, she also wished to take full responsibility for her behavior without minimizing her role or externalizing blame. Ms. Van Houten’s expressions of remorse for the victims appeared genuine. The (unintelligible) risk factor of lack of insight is not present.” And then on page, uh, on page 15, “At present, the risk factors of instability, current symptoms of a major mental disorder, violent ideation and treatment and supervision response are not present or relevant to violent risk.” Then the doctor says, she also speaks to youthful offender. She says, “Based on the current evaluation and available records, it seems very likely that Ms. Van Houten’s involvement in the life crime was significantly impacted by characteristics of youth, including impulsivity, the inability to adequately foresee the long-term consequences of her behavior, and the inability to manage her emotions that resulted from a forced abortion. These factors contributed to the notion of diminished culpability with respect to Ms. Van Houten’s involvement in the life crime.” And then on page 17, she states, um, doctor, um, Dr. Athans states, “Ms. Van Houten appears to have seized every opportunity provided to her to make positive changes in her life, with respect to education, vocation and self-help. At present, her risk of violent re-offending is in the low range, and it does not appear as though age-related concerns will impact her ability to parole successfully.” And then lastly, Ms. Van Houten is nearly 70 years old. She is now and has been incarcerated for 50 years. During that time period, she has not engaged in violence. She has largely abided by the rules of the institution, having been issued one 115 in ‘81, and she has participated in numerous hours of therapy, treatment groups, and self-help programs. She's addressed issues of sobriety and has made a concerted effort to understand what prompted her to engage in the life crime. She accepted responsibility for her behavior without minimizing her role or externalizing blame and all though she recognizes the impact of her emotional functioning on her behavior. She was (unintelligible) that she alone was responsible for her involvement in the crime. At present, she appears to represent a low risk for violent recidivism.” Now, um, the Deputy Commissioner and I conducted our own hearing and reached an independent finding concerning her suitability. Although we do note that the years-- 11th, 2019, January 30th, and September 6, 2017, previous panels also conducted independent hearings and also concluded that you would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger when released from prison and I do note that I was on the prior one in 2019, and that Commissioner Thornton was the Commissioner in 2017. Uh, we do not see anything that would aggravate that decision that we made in either of those two years. You've, you've maintained steady behavior and continued growth. Um, Deputy Commissioner, if you got anything you'd like to add, sir.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TAYLOR: I certainly concur. Um, and, um, I think you've said it better than I could, and I'll just let it be, so with that, I'll turn it back to you, the Commissioner.

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER GROUNDS: Thank you, Deputy Commissioner. So, based on-- on these findings, we conclude that Ms. Van Houten would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger or threat to public safety if released from prison panel. Th panel finds you suitable for parole. We’re recommend the following, no 115’s or 128A’s. Stay away from those, like you've done over the past 50 years. Positive chronos is what you want to get, you have, and continue to get those. Continue in your self-help lane or your self-help path. Uh, that venture has proved very, uh, profitable for your growth. Uh, our recommendations for parole is as follows. Um, we want to refer you to Behavioral Health Reintegration Program. We realized you're not in CCCMS, but we do want you to have a contact with a psychologist that can be a support person to you in the transition from prison to the free community. So that's a recommendation. Now, you may only meet once or twice and that is dependent upon you and the psychologist, uh, as far as what that looks like, but I want you to have that contact person there for support in any circumstance that you might find yourself going through. We also order you into transitional placement. Ideally, I'd like to see you in Roxie Rose because you've, you've got that continuum of relationship established, um, you know, but I do not want to tie the hands of the parole agent if there's not a bed availability in that program, uh, so that would be between you and the parole agent to figure out where you're going if there not bed availability there. Uh, in that transitional placement, we're going to order you to participate in a substance abuse program of some kind. Do not possess or consume alcoholic beverages. Submit to random narcotic testing and alcohol testing. Maintain an approved residence. Abstain from all gang activity as enumerated in the Penal Code Section 186.22E. Do not knowingly associate with any gang member, and I'm not talking about the classic prison gangs, I'm talking about any negative group that would be moving in a way that would be antisocial or a negative to society. And I know you weren't convicted of, of gang activity, but that's exactly what you were a part of, the negative antisocial group of people that were bent on, on terrorism and killing. Do not knowingly associate with any gang member. Not have any contact with the victims’ next of kin and, uh, Ms. Van Houten, I'd recommend that you find a venue. Uh, get your feet underneath, you find a venue where you can continue to make amends to the, the innocent victims, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. You need to do that for the rest of your life, steering people away from prisons and away from getting caught up in the cult, uh, destructive thinking. That's something you need to do for the rest of your life. And this decision is not final. This decision will become final after 120 days, and only after review by the BPH Decision Review Unit. This decision will become effective after 30 additional days, during which time, the governor may review the decision, and I know he will. He reviews them all and you'll be notified in writing if this decision has changed. I really want to thank Ms. Tate and Mr. Smaldino, Mr. Pfeiffer, um, Ms. Lebowitz, uh, for your participation here today, Ed Taylor, it’s good working with you, sir, and good luck to you, Ms. Van Houten. This hearing is adjourned.

INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Thank you. Thank you.


INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Thank you, thank you.