• Van Houten Parole Grant Reversed

Van Houten Parole Grant Reversed

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S RULING ON LESLIE VAN HOUTEN’S 2021 PAROLE RECOMMENDATION

Mar. 29 – In 1968, Leslie Van Houten met Charles Manson and began living as a member of Mr. Manson’s cult, which they called “The Family.” The cult believed that an apocalyptic race war, which they referred to as “Helter Skelter,” was imminent. The cult members planned to hide in the desert until the race war ended, at which point they planned to seize control of the world. In 1969, however, Mr. Manson decided it was the cult’s responsibility to initiate Helter Skelter by killing white victims, thereby inciting retaliatory violence against Black people.

Ms. Van Houten’s crime was one in a string of brutal attacks that the Family perpetrated in Los Angeles, starting on August 8, 1969. Members of the Family brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant, and her friends Steve Parent, Abigail Folger, Wojiciech Fryowski, and Jay Sebring.

Two days later, on August 10, 1969, Ms. Van Houten, along with Family members Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian, Mr. Manson, and Steve Grogan, drove to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Mr. Manson and Mr. Watson entered the house, woke up Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, tied them up and returned to the group outside. Mr. Manson instructed Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel to enter the house and follow Mr. Watson’s instructions, then he drove away with Mr. Grogan and Ms. Kasabian.

Ms. Van Houten, Ms. Krenwinkel, and Mr. Watson entered the La Biancas’ home. Mr. Watson, armed with a bayonet, ordered the LaBiancas to give them cash. Mrs. La Bianca gave him a small box of money. Mr. Watson then told Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel to take Mrs. LaBianca into a bedroom and kill her. Ms. Van Houten and Ms. Krenwinkel then transferred Mrs. LaBianca to a bedroom, and Ms. Krenwinkel retrieved two knives from the kitchen. Ms. Van Houten put a pillowcase over Mrs. LaBianca’s head and wrapped a lamp cord around her neck. Meanwhile in the living room, Mr. Watson covered Mr. LaBianca’s head with a pillowcase, tied his hands behind his back with a leather thong, and tied an electrical cord around his neck. Mr. Watson stabbed Mr. LaBianca multiple times.

After hearing her husband’s screams, Mrs. LaBianca grabbed a lamp and swung it at Ms. Van Houten. Ms. Van Houten knocked the lamp from Mrs. LaBianca’s hands, wrestled her back onto the bed, and pinned her down. Ms. Krenwinkel stabbed Mrs. LaBianca in the neck and struck her collar bone, which bent the knife’s blade. Ms. Van Houten called for Mr. Watson, who came into the room and stabbed Mrs. LaBianca numerous times. Mr. Watson handed Ms. Van Houten a knife and instructed her to “do something.” Ms. Van Houten stabbed Mrs. LaBianca approximately 16 times. Ms. Van Houten then wiped down surfaces in the house to eliminate fingerprints, changed into Mrs. LaBianca’s clothes, and drank chocolate milk from the LaBiancas’refrigerator. The group then fled.

The next morning, Mrs. LaBianca’s teenaged son discovered Mr. LaBianca’s body with a knife stuck in his neck, a carving fork protruding from his stomach, and the word “war” carved into his skin. The phrases “Death to Pigs,” “Rise,” and references to Helter Skelter were written in the victims’ blood on the walls and the refrigerator.

Ms. Van Houten was arrested on November 25, 1969. In 1971, Ms. Van Houten was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy and sentenced to death. In 1972, following a change in California law, Ms. Van Houten’s sentence was modified to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 1976, Ms. Van Houten’s conviction was overturned on appeal because of legal errors in her trial, which resulted in a retrial. The retrial ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. In 1978, Ms. Van Houten was tried a third time and convicted of two counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy. She was sentenced to a term of seven years to life.

The Board of Parole Hearings (Board) has conducted 21 parole hearings for Ms. Van Houten since 1982. Since 2016, the Board has found her suitable for parole five times. Governor Brown reversed parole grants in 2016 and 2018. Governor Newsom reversed parole grants in 2019 and 2020. This decision follows her November 9, 2021 parole grant.

GOVERNING LAW

The California Constitution grants me the authority to review proposed decisions of the Board. (Cal. Const. art. V, § 8, subd. (b).) I am given broad discretion to determine an inmate’s suitability for parole and may affirm, reverse, modify, or refer back to the Board any grant of parole to a person convicted of murder serving an indeterminate life sentence. (Id.; Pen. Code, § 3041.2; see In re Rosenkrantz (2002) 29 Cal.4th 616, 625-26; In re Dannenberg (2005) 34 Cal.4th 1061, 1080, 1082, 1088.) I am authorized to identify and weigh all “factors relevant to predicting ‘whether the inmate will be able to live in society without committing additional antisocial acts.'” (In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1181, 1205-06, quoting In re Rosenkrantz, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 655.)

When the Board proposes that an inmate convicted of murder be released on parole, I am authorized to conduct an independent, de novo review of the entire record, including “the facts of the offense, the inmate’s progress during incarceration, and the insight he or she has achieved into past behavior,” to determine the inmate’s suitability for parole. (In re Shaputis II (2011) 53 Cal.4th 192, 221.)

My review is independent of the Board’s authority, but it is guided by the same “essential” question: whether the inmate currently poses a risk to public safety. (Cal. Const. art. V, § 8, subd. (b); Pen. Code, § 3041.2; In re Shaputis II, supra, 53 Cal.4th at pp. 220-21.)

The circumstances of the crime can provide evidence of current dangerousness when evidence in the inmate’s pre- or post-incarceration history, or the inmate’s current mental state, indicate that the crime remains probative of current dangerousness. (In re Lawrence, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1214.) In rare cases, the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole, even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness exists. (In re Lawrence, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 1214.)

I am also required to give “great weight to the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner” when determining a youthful offender’s suitability for parole. (Pen. Code, § 4801, subd. (c).) I further must afford special consideration to whether age, the amount of time served, and diminished physical condition reduce the inmate’s risk of future violence. (See Feb. 10, 2014 order issued in Coleman v. Brown, Case No. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK-DAD (PC) (E.D. Cal.) and Plata v. Brown, Case No. C01-01351 TEH (N.D. Cal.).)

DECISION

The Manson Family murders are among the most notorious and gruesome in American history. Beyond the immeasurable suffering Ms. Van Houten caused the LaBianca family, Ms. Van Houten’s grisly acts have haunted people in California and beyond for more than half a century.

Ms. Van Houten herself described the impact of the crime in a letter to the Board in 2016. She wrote that her crime, designed to incite social unrest, “did not begin a revolution. What it did was create fear and panic across Los Angeles and the entire country for months to come. Parents kept their children home from school, doors and windows were kept locked in spite of the summer’s heat, and the love and peace movement ended. The murders occurred in the privacy of a total stranger’s home, which meant it could have happened to anyone. This heightened awareness of everyone’s personal vulnerability and caused traumatic reactions to many.”

While Ms. Van Houten’s understanding of the gravity of her crime and its ongoing harm is an encouraging sign of her developing insight, I have concluded that she remains unsuitable for parole because she poses a current threat to public safety. Ms. Van Houten continues to lack sufficient insight into the risk factors that led to her violent conduct in the past and the skills to protect against her becoming susceptible to similar pressures in the future.

In November 2020, I reversed Ms. Van Houten’s July 2020 parole grant based in part on her significant gaps in insight. I concluded that Ms. Van Houten needed to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from a violent cult and to commit brutal acts of violence on its behalf. Following this parole reversal, Ms. Van Houten committed herself to improving her insight, and she made the decision to step away from her post as the chairperson of the Inmate Advisory Council in order to focus on her self-development. Ms. Van Houten entered Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT). Ms. Van Houten told the Board in 2021, “a lot of the ISUDT program has been focusing on what for me was my early years of… the drug use and who I was, revisiting it. And…I have been getting to the point where I can—not just remember who I was, but also feel who I was at those ages.” While I commend Ms. Van Houten for taking this step forward in her rehabilitation, I find that her insight is still lacking.

Ms. Van Houten requires additional work to internalize her programming in ISUDT, given the nexus between her substance abuse history, her past feelings of stress within relationships, and her history of violence. For example, the evaluating psychologist in 2021 concluded that, “Substance abuse and problematic relationships contributed significantly to Ms. Van Houten’s commission of the life crime.” The psychologist also diagnosed Ms. Van Houten with Cannabis, Amphetamine, and Other Hallucinogen Use Disorders, in sustained remission in a controlled environment. The psychologist also noted that, “Ms. Van Houten will face significant stress if granted parole supervision,” especially due to her “notoriety,” and that her response to these stressors remain relevant to her risk for future violence. Ms. Van Houten has historically responded to stress in interpersonal relationships and feelings of isolation by using drugs, which ultimately led her to commit extreme acts of violence. Before she can be found suitable for parole, Ms. Van Houten must demonstrate that she has sufficient coping skills to prevent substance abuse relapse in the community.

Ms. Van Houten must also better understand the internal processes that led her to commit the crimes and hone the skills to control them. While Ms. Van Houten has demonstrated some insight into the crime and shown remorse, I note that since 2020, Ms. Van Houten’s explanation of her path to violent conduct focuses on external factors. She connects her initial decision to join the Manson family cult with the adverse experiences of her parents’ divorce and being coerced by her mother to have an abortion. While these events may have left Ms. Van Houten vulnerable to cult recruitment when she was young, she continues to lack insight into the internal processes that led her to respond to her own trauma with brutality against Ms. La Bianca.

At her 2021 hearing, the Board asked her why she remained in the cult even after their extremely violent conduct escalated, Ms. Van Houten explained that at the time she believed Mr. Manson “was a reincarnation” of Jesus Christ and she imagined herself as a kind of disciple. This explanation also focuses on the acts of Mr. Manson rather than her own internal processes that led her to adopt this dangerous system of beliefs, and violently act on them. Ms. Van Houten, because of her self-imposed notoriety, will almost certainly experience complex, external triggers if she is released on parole. She has not demonstrated that she has the self-awareness and coping strategies to respond to externalities in a prosocial way before she can be safely released.

Finally, I am required to consider the additional factors that are legally relevant to Ms. Van Houten’s suitability for parole. As explained below, I have weighed these factors and conclude they do not outweigh the substantial evidence of her current dangerousness.

First, in the cases of inmates who commit their crimes when they are under 26 years old, as in Ms. Van Houten’s case, I am required to review the record for evidence of factors relevant to their diminished culpability as youthful offenders and any subsequent growth and increased maturity. Ms. Van Houten was 19 years old when she committed the life crime. I have carefully examined the record for evidence of youthful offender factors and find that, at the time of her crime, she exhibited some of the hallmark features of youth. I note that the psychologist who evaluated Ms. Van Houten in 2021 wrote, “At the time of the life crime, Ms. Van Houten displayed hallmarks of youth such as naiveté, excessive risk-taking, attenuated ability to anticipate and appreciate consequences, and reduced ability to manage negative emotions.”

I have also examined the record for evidence of Ms. Van Houten’s subsequent growth in prison and increased maturity and rehabilitation. I acknowledge that Ms. Van Houten has made significant efforts to improve herself in prison through self-help programming and other prosocial efforts. She has participated in and facilitated self-help programming, including anger management, violence prevention, and substance abuse prevention courses. She has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and completed vocational training. Ms. Van Houten has consistently engaged in individual and group therapy while in prison. She also has a laudable disciplinary record. I have given great weight to her subsequent growth in prison during my consideration of his suitability for parole. While Ms. Van Houten has certainly matured in many ways over the last 51 years, her current gaps in insight demonstrate that she has not internalized her rehabilitation programming sufficiently to reduce her risk for future dangerousness. Consequently, even after according these youthful offender factors great weight, I conclude they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate that she remains unsuitable for parole at this time.

Second, I have given special consideration to the Elderly Parole factors in this case. Ms. Van Hoten is 72 years old and has served 51 years and 10 months. After nearly 52 years in prison, she still has not adequately addressed why she joined and remained in a violent cult or the triggering factors that led her to murder Mrs. La Bianca. Ms. Van Houten’s physical strength has lessened over the years, she was diagnosed with several chronic medical conditions that the evaluating psychologist concluded, “somewhat decrease[s] her risk of violence.” I have concluded that Ms. Van Houten’s age and diminished physical strength do not sufficiently mitigate her current risk to public safety.

Because of Ms. Van Houten’s history of obedience to a cult, the most relevant risk factor in this case remains her negative response to adverse external factors, and her susceptibility to them. Specifically, Ms. Van Houten has not sufficiently mitigated her risks for substance use relapse and distorted thinking leading to antisocial conduct in response to stressors. Accordingly, her release is not consistent with public safety.

I commend Ms. Van Houten for her significant efforts in rehabilitation to-date and acknowledge that her statements of remorse for her crime appear sincere and deeply felt. I encourage her to continue on this positive path.

CONCLUSION

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

Decision Date:
March 29, 2022
GAVIN NEWSOM
Governor, State of California

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26 Responses to Van Houten Parole Grant Reversed

  1. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Leslie only wants to say that she “is disappointed and will pursue her legal options.” She does not want me to bash Newsom. Since I can’t “bash Newsom,” I only ask that you read the reversal and let that speak for itself.

  2. Sharon says:

    A 70 year old woman dangerous; that is insane; she’s been a perfect inmate; she’s paid her debt to society; release het

  3. happydaysarehereagain says:

    She is guilty of two murders not one. Good on the governor using his legal options against her. Haha!

  4. Roger Wayne Adams says:

    I think this is absolutely ridiculous! She deserves to be free! Political nonsense! I know my opinion isn’t a popular one.

  5. Richie Rice says:

    I love how Karma really paid of in this case👍👍👍This woman is evil and deserves to rot in hell!

  6. Fred Bloggs says:

    Richie Rice says:
    This woman is evil and deserves to rot in hell!

    Is or was, Richie ?
    Also, tell us about Hell and who exactly should be there. I’d be fascinated to hear your take on the matter.

    Gav the Guv said:
    After nearly 52 years in prison, she still has not adequately addressed why she joined and remained in a violent cult or the triggering factors that led her to murder Mrs. La Bianca

    Cards on the table, in an overall cosmic sense, if Leslie never gets out of prison, deep down, she couldn’t really complain. She contributed towards the murder of two people. If one values human life, then forfeiting your freedom for a murder is actually quite reasonable.
    With that said, the Guv’nor’s statement, while no doubt bringing celebrations from many quarters, is as great an example of wilful ignorance and denial as one is likely to see anywhere, at any point. It’s denial on a Putin-esque level. To say she hasn’t adequately addressed why she joined and remained in a violent cult, is the equivalent of being told ad infinitum the reasons, but keeping your fingers plugged in your ears. On this site alone, there are 7 parole hearing transcripts that go into it, 4 of which she goes into heavy duty detail about the crimes ~ that’s in addition to the previous 14 or so. By all means, don’t uphold the board’s recommendation if you genuinely believe that to be the truth, but don’t do it with the reasoning given above.
    I’ve made this observation for a few years now and it never changes. The Guv’nor could simply say “the crime was soooo terrible, like Ed kemper, she ain’t never coming out. We can’t risk that kind of thing on our streets again.”
    But he doesn’t and nor did the guv before him. They give specific reasons and those specific reasons are demonstrably untrue. Demonstrably.
    Many people that have followed this case, whether supporter, detractor or just neutral about Leslie, could tell you what led her to join the Family, stay in the Family and kill in the Family. It’s not rocket science, despite all the psychologists and their opinions.
    I’ve said before, I don’t have a problem with the Guv’nor being that check and balance to a parole board. After all, they don’t always get it right. No human body does. What becomes important are the reasons given and in truth, the Guv’nor has no demonstrable reasons.
    He only, currently, carries power.

    Ms. Van Houten’s physical strength has lessened over the years, she was diagnosed with several chronic medical conditions that the evaluating psychologist concluded, “somewhat decrease[s] her risk of violence.” I have concluded that Ms. Van Houten’s age and diminished physical strength do not sufficiently mitigate her current risk to public safety

    No offence, but this is one of the more ridiculous things that the Guv’nor could have said. There again, maybe he’s afraid that if he were to ratify the board’s recommendation, she might get annoyed with him for the past rejections and come and smack him one, 💪 with her weighted handbag.

  7. Alexander Hill says:

    Rich,

    I would look into trying to gathering signatures to get a measure on the ballot of removing the governor’s parole veto power. Maryland recently did that.

  8. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Alexander, that is the correct solution. The Governor (this one or any one) has a conflict of interest in following the law when it is unpopular. It matters not that the vast majority supporting the Governor’s decision do not know the facts about what Leslie did verses what the others did, the vast majority are all voters. I don’t blame Newsom, he’s a politician and any politician would do the same thing if they wanted to continue in office. That’s why this is a conflict of interest – follow the law or get re-elected, you can only have one of those options. Any politician would choose being re-elected. It’s not Newsom’s fault, it’s the law, so Alexander, you are 100% correct.

  9. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    One of my former clients, convicted of two counts of murder, is now a public defender in Orange County and has the respect of not only his office, but of the prosecutors. He killed two people, Leslie killed none!

  10. Billy Esquire says:

    That’s OK, Rich….we’ll do the bashing for you! 😉

    I think it’s obvious from the length of Newsom’s supposed written response that he did NOT write the majority of it…..if ANY of it. Are we really to believe this otherwise incompetent fellow of limited honesty would devote more than cursory time and thought regarding Leslie’s parole? What nonsense this reply was; total BS. 😒

    As usual, the write-up and conclusions were “proclamations of truth” about Leslie without backing any of it up. He does that because he doesn’t HAVE to back it up. He just has to write something, and then magically, it’s SO! He’s right, everyone else is wrong…..INCLUDING all those on the California Parole Board! They continue to get it wrong year after year….right Gavin?!?!

    So Leslie poses an unreasonable danger to society, huh? Really? Even more dangerous than all the mentally ill and homeless street people and drug users peeing and pooping publicly all across Newsom’s state? They pose no “unreasonable” risk to society? She’s even more dangerous than all the criminals Newsom is allowing to break into jewelry and high fashion stores all across California’s elitist areas? She’s more dangerous than the flood of illegals pouring across the border into California? (Not that anyone is paying attention to whether they are dangerous, or not.) 🫤

    Newsom’s hypocrisy and inconsistent “concerns” for the safety of Californians are glaring. Who does the checks and balances on the moral and legal corruptions of the Governor? He sure needs someone to take a measuring stick to him, because much of what he allows in his state goes completely against written laws.

    Newsom has no intention of ever doing anything different with Leslie, and it has absolutely nothing to do with what she does or does not do. That is sickening and it is the opposite of “justice”.

    Newsom is not concerned with fairness, what’s legal, what’s right or wrong, or the true safety of the people of his state. She is a merely a political prisoner and that will never change. What’s most amazing is they keep going through these parole hearings every year when they are nothing but a colossal waste of time to all involved. And everyone involved knows it!

    Would love to know how many people have left the state of California because of Gavin Newsom.

  11. happydaysarehereagain says:

    Rich Pfeiffer says:
    March 30, 2022 at 8:29 pm
    One of my former clients, convicted of two counts of murder, is now a public defender in Orange County and has the respect of not only his office, but of the prosecutors. He killed two people, Leslie killed none!

    Wow. Leslie killed two people. Hope your words can be used at her next hearing so the parole board can see the point of view you and your client really have about her remorse and guilt. You’re on a public board on her behalf so don’t tell me you’re not talking for her. Web capture is our friend.

  12. Paul says:

    This is an absolute joke!!! The government cannot be trusted to have the final say in the matter because he is too weak to not let public pressure get in the way of his job. This has to be done in the courts Where there is a very slight chance the law might actually be carried out for once.

  13. Michael says:

    Rich, I respect your commitment to your client, and have appreciated a number of points you’ve raised on this site. But to claim Leslie killed no one is akin to Susan Atkins claiming, as she often did, that she “took no one’s life with her own hands.”

    It is probably true that neither Susan nor Leslie fatally stabbed anyone. But they both actively participated in murders, definitely aiding the killings. So to say Leslie did not kill anyone seems as disingenuous as a Nazi concentration camp guard saying, “I only marched the prisoners into the gas chambers, but I didn’t drop the crystals, so i didn’t kill anyone.”

  14. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Michael you are right, Leslie would be the first to say to all of you that she IS responsible for killing two people. Even the Governor finally concedes that “her statements of remorse for her crime appear sincere and deeply felt.” What those who want Leslie to remain in prison ignore is that the law is simply not being followed. When the government picks and chooses which laws and when it wants to comply with, all of us are potentially at great risk.

  15. Michael says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Rich. People can oppose a convicted murderer’s parole on moral grounds or legal grounds, but if we oppose Leslie’s parole on moral grounds, we should make that clear and not dress them up as legalities. That’s why I’m not convinced the reasons Newsom gave are in fact the reasons Newsom decided.

  16. Christy says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say again. I don’t think Leslie is a threat herself. But I’d hate to be the neighborhood she would be paroled to. After the media circus left she’d be left open to every crackpot who either thought she hadn’t been punished enough or a Manson believer who thinks she ought to take up the flame. And then gets disappointed and blames her. And everyone else in the vicinity.

  17. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Christy, between the second and third trials, Leslie was out on bail for 6 and a half months. She worked and went to court on time. This was a time that was relatively close to the murders so publicity would have been a greater threat. None of what you speculated about happened. There is no reason to believe being paroled now would change any of that.

  18. Fred Bloggs says:

    Rich Pfeiffer says:
    One of my former clients, convicted of two counts of murder, is now a public defender in Orange County and has the respect of not only his office, but of the prosecutors. He killed two people, Leslie killed none!

    Not only do I respect where you’ve come from, I truly dig what you do. It’s easy to dismiss the need for legal representation for everyone, the best and worst of us and all of us in between.
    I think you’re drastically wrong however, on the statement that Leslie killed no one. The best one can say is that no one but God actually knows that. Even Leslie wouldn’t know. Because Rosemary LaBianca had a number of wounds that were fatal in and of themselves, it would be almost impossible to say which of them actually killed her. The sequence in which they were administered has never been known and can’t be with 41 stab wounds.
    However, it is more than possible to say that Rosemary was alive when Leslie started stabbing her. Less than 14 of the wounds {that’s 13 or less} were post~mortem and Leslie say she stabbed about 16 times. Rosemary may have been on the way out, but she wasn’t gone.

    between the second and third trials, Leslie was out on bail for 6 and a half months. She worked and went to court on time. This was a time that was relatively close to the murders so publicity would have been a greater threat. None of what you speculated about happened. There is no reason to believe being paroled now would change any of that.

    I think it’s a very different world from 1977/78. Nowadays, the social media component makes privacy all but impossible and then added to the kind of entitlement many people feel that they have, especially those that set themselves up as guardians of society on some kind of moral crusade, well, I think she would have a hard time, especially with 24 hour news.
    But so what ? Of course there’d be a media frenzy initially, but it would soon die down.
    Also, it’s debatable whether there are really that many people that would care that much…..having said that, it only needs one or two. But every prisoner that gets paroled has to deal with that, especially in notorious cases.

  19. Cybele Moon says:

    Michael, my sentiments exactly. Well said.

    Fred Bloggs I agree.

    Rich, I guess the Governor is swayed by public opinion and I thought his reasoning flawed. It would be better just to state the heinousness of the crimes as a reason.

    Yes, I agree with Fred, the world today is much different. Psychologically I think it would be a very difficult adjustment after 50 years. Lesley grew up and grew old in prison. And will she ever be free in that sense? Probably not. I also agree that this case is notorious which unfortunately for the perpetrators keeps it alive in the public eye while other murders may be forgotten ( except by the victims of course). However there is social media, news networks and internet that bombard everyone with information including sensational and horrific crimes and international crises that keep us all shocked and horrified.

    I personally do not believe in the death penalty. However, I guess the debate is, whether some crimes are so terrible as to warrant life in prison or are rehabilitation and redemption the desired goal of the prison system.

  20. Wolf's Stare says:

    Just keep fighting Rich and Leslie, you have plenty of people behind you.

  21. Pam says:

    Let her out when her victims can walk out of their graves. She’ll never get out because of the notoriety of her crimes. I don’t understand how anyone can believe she deserves parole.

  22. Pam says:

    Her lawyer, “Leslie killed none.” This statement is inaccurate. She was convicted of two counts of first degree murder. She repeatedly stabbed RL. She claimed RL was already dead. Anybody believe she took her pulse before she stabbed her?

  23. Lee says:

    Hey, Leslie:

    Sorry is just a five letter word, right?!

  24. Terry says:

    Well, going forward, as long as the Governor has the ultimate say in terms of exercising veto power over the Parole Board, it’s hard to imagine ANY future California Governor NOT exercising said veto power over any of the remaining Manson Family defendants. If I had to lay odds? None of them will be leaving prison while they’re alive.

  25. Michael says:

    Terry, I agree with your prediction. Leslie seems the most likely of the remaining five to be paroled, and if her parole keeps getting blocked, the other four have little or no hope.

    The reasons Newsome gave for reversing the parole board’s decision are reasons that could always apply, no matter how much insight she gains, or how much remorse she shows, or how exemplary her behavior is. She can always “better understand” or “gain more insight” and the horrible nature of the crimes will always remain horrible. So if those factors disqualify her from being released, then she’s stuck.

    For some of us this is a quandary. I don’t think anyone guilty of such heinous crimes should ever be released, because of the nature of the crimes alone. But I also think that if the law requires that evidence of rehabilitation also be considered, well then, Leslie sure demonstrates that evidence. Anyone who’s even casually followed this case would have to admit she is not the same crazed young woman she was 53 years ago. Like I said, quandary.

  26. C.J. Kelly says:

    I have no issue with releasing her. 50 years is enough. She is not a threat to society and has not been for years. Being free during her retrial was evidence enough that she was no longer a danger. I understand the families disagree, but either we have a legitimate parole board with powers, or we don’t.

    What she participated in was heinous, but not to the level of Watson and Krenwinkel. Even Bugliosi thought the women would eventually be released.

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