With Charles Manson’s 12th and possibly his last parole hearing just days away, we take a look back at his 33 years of parole eligibility.
Corcoran, Calif. – The California board of prison terms will hold a parole hearing for Charles Manson in Corcoran State Prison Wednesday. The parole hearing will be Manson’s 12th, even though he’s only attended 6 of his prior 11.
Manson, who is now 77 years old, has skipped his last two hearings, with his last appearance to one 15 years ago.
Manson was convicted and sentenced to death in 1971 for orchestrating the murder spree that claimed 9 lives, including the 8 1/2 months pregnant actress Sharon Tate.
The following year, the California supreme court outlawed the death penalty, claiming it cruel and unusual punishment. Charlie’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, making him eligible for parole in 1978.
HEARING No. 1 • THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1978
His first parole hearing was held on Thursday, November 16th, 1978 at the California Medical Facilty in Vacaville. During the three hour hearing, Manson continued to deny ordering the murders. “If I wanted anyone killed. I’d kill them myself. But I don’t want anyone killed because I love my own life,” Manson told the three member panel.
When asked about his plans if paroled, Manson said, “My plan would be to go to the wilderness and live off the land. I’d go to the desert and talk to the animals. I couldn’t make it running by the watch and making that car payment. My ways are simple.”
After the recess the board chairman returned the decision, telling Manson “You are not suitable for parole.”
“I agree,” said Manson, “I’m totally unsuitable for that world out there. I don’t fit in at all.”
HEARING No. 2 • TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1979
Manson refused to attend his second hearing held on Tuesday, November 27th, 1979. Instead he had a prison guard deliver a 7 page handwritten letter, $200 in monopoly money and a CHANCE card that read, “Advance to Go, Collect $200.”
In the letter, Manson stated, “I break no law. I didn’t get my rights to start with. I talked to your board once and have been treated as a fool since then. The truth is you are a bunch of liars.”
According to his psychiatric report, Manson was described as a “schizophrenic in remission with sporadic psychotic episodes.”
Although his discipline record indicated he had been found with bits of razor blades and metal in his cell, a prison spokesman said Charlie had “been really pretty mellow,” and spent most of his time weaving, writing letters, watching television, reading the newspaper and playing the guitar.
HEARING No. 3 • TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1980
Manson did attend his third hearing on Tuesday, November 4th, 1980. When the board made suggestions on how he could improve himself for his next hearing, Manson responded: “I’m not going to do that…I’ll stay here forever…I’ve got that long.”
HEARING No. 4 • WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1981
For his fourth hearing in November of 1981, Charlie came dressed in a skull and crossed bones t-shirt. During the 4 hour hearing, Manson’s attorney, Glen DeRonde argued not for Charlie’s parole, but for his release from solitary confinement.
“I’m not ready for parole,” Manson told the board. “I could have saved you all this time.”
Manson, who played with 2 large marbles in his hand throughout the hearing, told the board he expected to spend the rest of his life in jail.
“By the time I get out, I’ll parole to space,” said Manson.
The three-member board, headed by Chairman Robert Roos, unanimously declared Manson unsuitable for parole.
HEARING No. 5 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1982
Manson refused to attend his fifth hearing, which was held on Wednesday, December 2nd, 1982. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay told the board, “Charles Manson believes he can do anything he wants whenever he wants.”
“I’ve no doubt that if he (Manson) were let out he’d be leading other people to commit murders again,” said Kay.
Manson’s psychiatric report recommended Charlie be removed from the psych ward because he was just a “psychiatric curiosity or oddity.”
Up until this hearing, California law required any inmate serving a life sentence have a parole hearing each year. Changes to the law now gave the board the ability to deny parole for up to 3 years.
The panel took only 55-minutes to conclude that Manson was unsuitable for parole for the maximum 3 years.
HEARING No. 6 • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1986
Charlie’s sixth hearing was held at San Quentin on Tuesday, February 4th, 1986. Prosecutor Stephen Kay cited a list of psychiatric reports of various mental illnesses dating back to Manson’s youth.
“You have recited a long list of misinformation, and I can’t respond to all of it,” Charlie said. “I’ve been playing doctors like pianos since 1950.”
Kay also spoke about Manson’s discipline record, listing off 42 infractions which included possession of hacksaw blades and spitting at guards.
Manson, with his long graying hair and beard arrived to the hearing with a 20 page document, which he read to the board. Abruptly leaving without waiting for the panel to return their decision. Parole denied for 3 years.
HEARING No. 7 • WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1989
Charlie’s seventh hearing held on Wednesday, February 8th, 1989, lasted about an hour. Manson refused to attend after the warden wouldn’t allow him to appear before the panel without his handcuffs and waist chain.
The parole board deliberated for 27 minutes before finding Charlie unsuitable for parole for another 3 years.
HEARING No. 8 • TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 1992
Manson was back in attendance for his eighth hearing held at Corcoran State Prison on Tuesday, April 21st, 1992. Manson indicated he was nervous and not used to people because of his long time in solitary confinement.
A review of his discipline record showed Manson had committed around 60 infractions dating back to his 1983 hearing.
When the panel asked Charlie if he had any remorse for the victims. Manson did not accept responsiblity for the crimes, but stated:
“You say in your minds that I’m guilty of everything that you’ve got on paper. So therefore, it would run logic that I would need to have remorse for what you think is reality, and if that be true, then all the oceans’ contents, if it were my tears, there would not be enough to express the remorse that I have for the sadness of that world that you people live in.”
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay read from a board report that quoted Manson saying he had, “no plans for the future, that he was not interested in paroling and that he would be lost in our society.”
“Well, I can tell Mr. Manson that our society feels the same way about him,” responded Kay. “We don’t want him back.”
Two years earlier, California passed a law that increased the amount of years a parole board could deny an inmate. Changing the maximum denial from three to five years.
At the end of the two hour hearing, Manson was denied parole for five years.
HEARING No. 9 • THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 1997
Manson’s ninth parole hearing – the last one he’s attended to date – was held on Thursday, March 17th, 1997. The Gray haired, 62-year-old arrived wearing sunglasses.
When asked where he’d go if paroled, Manson replied he’d go “poof” with a grin on his face.
“I’ve killed a lot of people in my life,” said Manson. “I have. But I was convicted for things I didn’t do and I was let loose for things I did.”
The board denied him parole for 5 years, saying he was still too dangerous for society.
HEARING No. 10 • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2002
Charlie’s tenth hearing was held on Wednesday, April 24th, 2002. It was the first hearing for Manson that anyone from the Tate family attended.
“I would like to give him a piece of my mind,” said Debra Tate, Sharon’s younger sister.
Tate would not get the chance. Once again Charlie refused to attend because he didn’t want to be handcuffed.
A review of his prison record showed Manson had 17 “serious” infractions since his last parole hearing five years earlier.
The infractions included threatening staff and possession of a weapon.
Once again, Manson was denied the maximum 5 years.
HEARING No. 11 • WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2007
Manson’s most recent parole hearing was held at Corcoran on Wednesday, May 23th, 2007. It was Charlie’s first hearing without District Attorney Stephen Kay representing Los Angeles County. Kay had stepped down in 2004 and in his place was prosecutor Patrick Sequeira
Although Manson wasn’t in attendance the board reviewed his file. Charlie had added twelve more infractions since the 2002 hearing. He didn’t participate in any rehab programs or take a psychiatric evaluation.
The board denied Manson for 5 more years.
HEARING No. 12 • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2012
Prison officials have indicated that Manson has no intention of attending his upcoming parole hearing. He will instead send his lawyer to represent him.
Since becoming eligible for parole 33 years ago, Charles Manson has always been denied the maximum amount of years allowed by law.
Current law allows the board of prison terms to deny parole for up to 15 years.
Given his history of denials combined with his age, it is possible that Wednesday’s hearing will be Charlie’s last.