Leslie Van Houten, the one-time Charles Manson follower, faced her 19th parole hearing on Tuesday with a new lawyer.
Van Houten, 60, remains in prison at the California Institution for Women at Frontera, which is the same prison where another Manson follower, Patricia Krenwinkle is imprisoned. Susan Atkins, the third woman convicted of murder in the crimes directed by cult leader Manson, died in prison after parole officials denied her dying request for freedom.
Van Houten was 19 years old when she joined other members of the Manson cult in the brutal, sadistic, merciless killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who were murdered in their own home in their own bed in August, 1969.
Her lawyer says she is rehabilitated and remorseful.
In the coverage of this story on Tuesday, many people posted comments online.
This one was for Van Houten’s release:
“I always find it amusing how un-Christianlike so many so-called ‘Christians’ are. Before judging, ask yourself if YOU are the same idiot now that you were at 19. No, wait – some of you probably are! Yes, nothing will bring the LaBiancas back, but there is a difference between ‘justice’ and ‘revenge.’ If she is actually, truly rehabilitated (and not one of you is her psychiatrist, so you don’t actually know anything), and able and willing to be a productive member of society, then justice has probably been served. Let the courts decide, and hope that if you ever end up on trial that the jury of your peers is made up of people who aren’t all exactly like you. But if you have no compassion, then look at it this way: it costs more money to keep her in than to let her out. And the cell she’s currently occupying could be used to house another young violent animal until she learns some sense.”
And this comment argued against Van Houten’s release:
“Manson and his followers tortured and killed seven people, and have been in prison for 40 years – not even 10 years per life they took. They should have all been executed in the beginning, and the tax dollars saved. For the folks that say ‘but she was only 19,’ I know 19 year olds who join the military, willing to lay down their lives for an ideal; I know 19 year olds who work with Habitat for Humanity. They are worth saving. This piece of trash forfeited that when she joined in the massacre. If her family wants to keep her alive, then let them pay the monetary cost. When the money runs out, a bullet to the head will end it. Send the bill for the bullet and the burial to the defense lawyer.”
Frankly, I am always amused to hear someone hasn’t committed crimes while in prison. It’s kind of difficult to find a child to rape, or a family in bed to brutally murder you once you hook up with a team of sadistic buddies. So what Van Houten has taken courses and participated in group therapy sessions? People are permanently dead because of her actions.
I was against her parole for two reasons:
1. Symbolic - we don’t show an ultimate respect for life when we show mercy to the merciless; and
2. The price was life in prison - Van Houten forfeited her right to live in society. It sounds like her life in prison has been quite rewarding – what with education, social life, and work. She’s luckier than her victims.
I think Leslie Van Houten is exactly where she earned to be, and if it costs money to keep her there, it is money well spent. Apparently, the parole board agreed with me too, because they denied her request for parole. She will have the chance to ask for her freedom for the 20th time in the year 2013.