Governor Gavin Newsom Reverses Bruce Davis’ Parole Grant

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S RULING ON BRUCE DAVIS’ PAROLE RECOMMENDATION

Nov 14 Bruce Davis was a member of Charles Manson’s cult known as “the Family,” who lived together at Spahn Ranch in the summer of 1969. In July 1969, Mr. Manson and a group of Family members, including Mr. Davis, discussed ways to raise money to relocate their group to the desert. They identified an acquaintance, Gary Hinman, as a potential source of funds. On July 26, 1969, Mr. Davis dropped off three Family members at Mr. Hinman’s residence. Two days later, the group of three called Mr. Manson from Mr. Hinman’s house and reported that Mr. Hinman was not cooperating. Mr. Manson and Mr. Davis returned to Mr. Hinman’s house. When they arrived, Mr. Hinman had already been struck with a gun; during that struggle, the gun had discharged. Mr. Davis took the gun and pointed it at Mr. Hinman while Mr. Manson sliced Mr. Hinman’s face open with a sword, cutting from his left ear down to his chin. Mr. Davis and Mr. Manson drove off in Mr. Hinman’s vehicle.

The other three Family members remained at Mr. Hinman’s house for two more days while Mr. Hinman lay bleeding. Robert Beausoleil eventually stabbed Mr. Hinman in the chest and smothered him with a pillow, killing him. Inside the home, using Mr. Hinman’s blood, the group wrote the words “political piggy” and drew an animal paw print on the walls. Mr. Hinman’s decomposed body was found on July 31, 1969.

In August of 1969, Mr. Manson expressed his belief that Donald Shea, who worked as a ranch hand at Spahn Ranch, was a police informant and was working with a neighbor to have the Family removed from the ranch. Family members Mr. Manson, Mr. Davis, Steven Grogan, and Charles Watson lured Mr. Shea into a car with them. They drove Mr. Shea to a secluded area and stabbed him multiple times, killing him. Mr. Davis has acknowledged that he used a knife to cut Mr. Shea from his collar bone to his armpit during the attack.

Mr. Davis was arrested in December 1970, after evading capture for more than a year. He was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery.

DECISION

I acknowledge Mr. Davis has made efforts to improve himself in prison. He has been disciplined only twice during nearly five decades of incarceration. He earned several educational degrees in prison, including a master’s degree and a doctorate. Mr. Davis has participated in many self-help programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Anger Management, and Alternatives to Violence. He has donated to charity and receives positive work ratings from his supervisors. I commend Mr. Davis for taking these positive steps. I also note that Mr. Davis is now 77 years old, and that the psychologist who evaluated him in 2016 concluded that “as he has aged he has shown less criminality and increased prosocial endeavors.” However, these factors are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole at this time.

Mr. Davis was part of one of the most notorious criminal cults in California history. He and his fellow Family members robbed, tortured, and killed many victims in Southern California in 1969. During his time on the ranch, Mr. Davis furthered the Family’s cult objectives – to start a race war and trigger the apocalypse – and participated in these two extremely calculated and violent murders to that end. It is difficult to overstate how impactful these crimes were on the people of California. They left a legacy of terror and pain that continues to haunt the state today.

In addition to the horror of these crimes, there is additional evidence that Mr. Davis should not be released from prison. I do not believe that he has demonstrated adequate insight into his willingness to engage in such extreme violence. At his 2019 parole hearing, Mr. Davis explained that he was initially drawn to the culture of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” that surrounded Mr. Manson. He left California for about a year, then returned to Spahn Ranch and found that “[t]he whole scene had changed” and the discussions there had turned to race wars, riots, and disrupting society. Mr. Davis claimed that he did not believe that Mr. Manson sincerely held those beliefs, and that the first time he saw the Family’s vision being fulfilled was the torture and murder of Mr. Hinman. Mr. Davis acknowledged helping plan the attack on Mr. Hinman, and continuing to associate with Mr. Manson and the Family after learning of Mr. Hinman’s death. He also admitted that he stayed with the group even after finding out about the heinous Tate-LaBianca murders, during which five more people were killed by the Family. Mr. Davis told the Board, “[A]s long as I felt like Manson was my friend and that I was having affection from girls, and I could get loaded when I felt like it, nothing else really mattered.” He explained that he lacked empathy and simply did not care about the Family’s activities and ideology since his own “psychological” and “emotional needs” were being met. Mr. Davis acknowledged that he willingly participated in the attack on Mr. Shea, and that he knew in advance that Mr. Shea would be killed. He admitted cutting Mr. Shea, and said that “when it really came down, I didn’t care…if Mr. Shea had been alive or dead didn’t make any difference to me.”

None of Mr. Davis’s statements at his 2019 hearing indicate that he has a comprehensive understanding of how he came to participate in such extreme violence. As a result, I do not believe that he has the current insight and skills to abstain from violent situations in the future if released. A lack of empathy and a desire for drugs do little to account for Mr. Davis’s repeated and deliberate decisions to remain by Mr. Manson’s side, furthering the cult’s warped goals and actively engaging in violence. He has not sufficiently explained why he was so indifferent to the suffering and deaths of the victims of the Family, even as the cult’s body count continued to rise. Mr. Davis had ample opportunities to alert the authorities, personally intervene to stop these crimes, or even to just walk away. Instead, he escalated his own violent participation and deepened his connection to Mr. Manson, all in pursuit of his own “little personal gratification.” Until Mr. Davis can adequately explain the internal characteristics and decision-making that led him to these extreme actions, I do not believe he can be safely released.

CONCLUSION

I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Mr. Davis is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Mr. Davis.

Decision Date:
November 14, 2019
GAVIN NEWSOM
Governor, State of California

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13 Responses to Governor Gavin Newsom Reverses Bruce Davis’ Parole Grant

  1. NoJusticeNoPeace says:

    Good.

  2. Gorodish says:

    With every gubernatorial Manson Family parole reversal, wherever he is, Steve “Clem” Grogan puts down his guitar and looks up to the sky thanking the heavens.

  3. Jonathan Hart says:

    Meanwhile, Newsom invites gang members into his state and pardons loads of other inmates that did a whole lot worse than the Manson gang (save for Tex Watson).

    What a joke this has become. What a waste of everyone’s time.

  4. Janet Palirano says:

    Steve “Clem” Grogan is in San Francisco hiding under the name “Adam Gabriel”, playing a blues band in small restaurants, and enjoying his UNDESERVED freedom while Shorty Shea lays in his grave! Ridiculous he was rewarded complete freedom just for finally revealing where he dumped Shorty’s body.

  5. Fred Bloggs says:

    Janet Palirano says:
    Ridiculous he was rewarded complete freedom just for finally revealing where he dumped Shorty’s body

    I think it went beyond just revealing where the body was dumped. Take into account these three things, firstly, he {and Manson and Davis} was already convicted of the murder, secondly, no one benefitted or cared about Shea’s body as can be seen from the fact that his various family members didn’t bury him and thirdly, Grogan, from being seemingly the scariest and most “out there” of the Manson clan had actively changed and was now admitting to the murder. Things like his age at the time of the murders were taken into account, plus the fact that there seemed to be a trend that had gained momentum of the notorious murderers abandoning Manson and by extension, his philosophy. Also bear in mind that it was 8 years after showing the authorities where the body was that he was paroled.
    Personally, I think he was extremely fortunate to be paroled when he was but at the same time, he has kept his nose clean for 34 years which would tend to militate against the Guv’nor’s pronouncements of the unsafety of releasing at least Van Houten and Davis.

    Guv’nor Gavin says:
    I do not believe that he has the current insight and skills to abstain from violent situations in the future if released

    He doesn’t need to have them. He’s 77 !
    Recently, he was moved from his regular abode because of a threat made against him by some other prisoner. Apparently, this prisoner owed another prisoner money and the way it was decided to pay off the debt was to “off” Davis. The authorities got wind of this and moved him. Apparently, inmates like Bruce are viewed by a certain segment of the prison fraternity as trophies. The one thing that there need be no fear about is that of old Bruce Davis with his replaced hips, prostate problems, emphysema, breathing hassles and fading eyesight mixing it violently with anyone on the outside. And unless I’m very much mistaken and/or behind the times, old people don’t usually commit crimes of violence.

    A lack of empathy and a desire for drugs do little to account for Mr. Davis’s repeated and deliberate decisions to remain by Mr. Manson’s side, furthering the cult’s warped goals and actively engaging in violence. He has not sufficiently explained why he was so indifferent to the suffering and deaths of the victims of the Family, even as the cult’s body count continued to rise

    Um, yes he has explained why. The Guv’nor simply chooses to ignore the explanation. And how about this for a startling piece of contradiction; he states that a lack of empathy does little to account for Bruce’s decision to stay with the Family but then goes on to say that he hasn’t explained why he was indifferent to others’ suffering, in other words, lacked empathy !
    Make up your mind, man !
    Actually, being beaten by his Dad, verbally abused throughout his childhood by his Dad, being raped twice by the age of 15, being arrested and falsely accused of drug possession in the days when it was serious shit, these and other things contributed hugely to his anti-establishment mindset and make it easy for anyone that wants to understand, how he reached the point that he did.
    And to say that 5 years of psychedelic drug use has little bearing on his mindset and outcomes really is the height and depth of ignorance ~ but then, one might cynically observe that the Guv’nor of a state in which marijuana is legal is more likely to not accept the veracity of the argument that various drugs can have a markedly negative effect ~ as well as a positive one.
    All of his parole transcripts on this site are instructive but the 2015 one makes mincemeat of the Guv’nor’s claims. Unless one chooses not to see it that way.

    Until Mr. Davis can adequately explain the internal characteristics and decision-making that led him to these extreme actions, I do not believe he can be safely released

    Aside from the fact that he’s been made to think about it and explain it ad nauseum since at least 1993, such a statement borders on something beyond ridiculous. That’s like asking someone to explain the internal characteristics and decision making that led them to drive a car poorly or go to university or become a linguistics teacher or have children with multiple people. Human beings in general are not psychologists or psychoanalysts and even the most brilliantly qualified psychs would often be at pains to explain with any gravitas what the Guv’nor is asking ex-welder Bruce to produce to his “satisfaction.” It’s almost ironic, using language as his cloaking device, rather like Charlie Manson did. Instead of saying “no matter what you say or do, you’ll never be paroled”……….

    What I find really disturbing about Guv’nor Newsom, like Jerry Brown before him, is not that he keeps on overturning parole board recommendations. That’s his prerogative and part of his job and in all good conscience, if he genuinely believes he knows more than the board and is taking his responsibilities to the max, then he must follow his nose because he has a responsibility that a parole board does not. No, what I’ve found disturbing about most of the last few overturnings are the reasons given. It keeps happening over and over, that they’ll say “they haven’t shown insight” or words to that effect, when we have more than a dozen transcripts, brimming with almost nothing but explanation and insight. They’ll say “oh, there is not responsibilty being taken” when repeatedly, these inmates are almost falling over themselves to take responsibility. They’ll say “there’s still too much responsibility being put on Manson” when at the same time, it is clear that this is a paradoxical situation in which both entities are clearly responsible and if they don’t outline Manson’s part, they’re showing no insight and if they do, they’re not taking their own part seriously enough.
    Get with the picture, guv !

  6. Norma thomas says:

    They will never get out so why do they bother?

  7. Arone says:

    Where are you people’s “bleeding hearts” for the victims? I find it absolutely revolting the lot of you that feel sorry for Davis. Try feeling sorry for Mr. Shea & Mr. Hinman for once.

  8. Jonathan Hart says:

    It has nothing to do with a lack of concern for the victims.

    What is DOES have to do with is following the conditions of parole, as written. And if an inmate has met the conditions of parole (many times over in most cases), then it is wrong for a governor to deny parole for reasons that are clearly ONLY political. What’s the point of having a parole board and parole hearings if the governor is simply going to say, “No”? It’s simply not the right thing to do. That’s all people here are saying. It’s not that they aren’t thinking of the victims.

    California’s governors have no intention of doing their job legitimately. That’s what rubs people the wrong way. The governors can’t find one legitimate reason to deny parole in most of these cases, so they just make stuff up that’s not true. (See Fred Bloggs’ excellent write-up, above.)

  9. John says:

    If this was ANY other murderer on Earth, Davis would have been out 20 years ago.
    Same for Van Houten.
    Murderers are paroled every day.
    They all should have gotten the gas chamber, but we believe in rehabilitation.
    Could Davis possibly be more rehabilitated?
    The Governor(s) of CA are protecting their political asses.
    Who wants to be known as the politician who let a spooky Manson member out?
    It’s as big a farce as Bugliosi’s HelterS kelter narrative.

  10. John says:

    No one I know feels sorry for Davis.
    You are interpreting comments to fit your own narrative

  11. RIFF RAFF RACKUS says:

    Fred Bloggs, your logic, insight and common sense always makes for good reading. Have enjoyed your commentary, humor and debates with other readers for many years now, on both this blog and on the Manson blog. Thank you sir, and may you keep on keeping on.

  12. Pam says:

    In spite of the Fred Bloggs and the other whining Manson apologists, these murderers are right where they belong, locked away in a cage.

  13. Fred Bloggs says:

    @Pam, to refer to me as a Manson apologist simply demonstrates to the whole world {because these pages can be accessed almost anywhere} your overpowering ignorance.
    Yes, I said it.
    Ignorance. And that’s not an insult because that’s not the way I roll. I would never insult you. I actually try pretty hard to respect you and in the past {if you are indeed the Pam that I’ve been in debates with before. You sure sound like her} even when you’ve said things I consider as ridiculous, I’ve at least looked a little deeper into where you’re coming from and tried to give your viewpoint the worth a good adversary should be given.
    But that, I’m afraid, is just ignorance. And until you convince me otherwise, wilful ignorance. The ignorance of someone that doesn’t want to even bother to understand an opposing point, just sees that it doesn’t line up with their limited diatribe and “waaaahhhs” all over the shop.
    To refer to me as an apologist for a person that, though I try to understand him and how he got to where he ended up, have concluded he was right where he should have been, now that is insulting.

    John says:
    No one I know feels sorry for Davis.
    You are interpreting comments to fit your own narrative

    Let’s take that bit by bit, John.
    No one you know feels sorry for Davis ? So what ? What does that prove ?
    I make no bones about the fact that I feel sorry for Davis. I would feel sorry for most 77 year olds that are in the situation of knowing that someone wants to kill them ~ and are young and strong enough to do it. I’d feel sorry for most 77 year olds whose wives had divorced them at 70 because it dawned on them that their husband might actually be coming home after half a century in prison.
    Incidentally, feeling sorry for someone does not equate to “he should be paroled.” You do yourself no credit in trying to make that equation.
    As for interpreting words to fit my own narrative, well, yeah, it’s called weighing up a situation, reflecting on it, reaching something of a conclusion and stating it. The only narrative I have is the one that the various words and moves of the involved parties leads me to. Is it the right one ? It could well be. Is it the only one ? Definitely not. Is it a biased one ? I don’t think so. I hope it isn’t. Is it a fair one ? I hope so. If I’m totally wrong on this one, I would hope that I was at the very least fair.
    You might notice that I don’t state that Davis should be released without question. I have lots of thoughts on parole; we’ve just had an incident here in London where a guy who was released 11 months ago, half way through his sentence for planning to blow up the London Stock exchange building, murdered two people and injured others 4 days ago. It’s not black and white but I don’t think he should have been released.
    My problem with the Davis and Van Houten situations {funnily enough, not the Beausoleil one} are the reasons the Guv’nor gives ~ check out the parole transcripts on this very site. His reasons are demonstrably {please understand what that word actually entails} in error. And the problem with that is that it leads one to the inescapable conclusion that he does not have a valid reason for his decision. If he had a demonstrably {that word again} valid reason, I wouldn’t be arguing with him.
    Even Pam has a more solid reason than the Guv’nor has espoused. She doesn’t care about what might have happened to them as youths. She doesn’t care whether they show insight or not. The offence itself is sufficient for her. That’s solid.
    And if your quote was not directed to me {it could have been directed at two others}, my sincere apologies and let’s part friends !

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