Leslie Van Houten, a member of the Charlie Manson cult, who was convicted along with other members of Charles Manson’s cult in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, was granted parole by a Board of commissioners, who were appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
Van Houten, who is now 68, has spent the last 40 years in prison where she has been a model prisoner and earned college degrees. She was 19 at the time of the offenses.
The Gov. of California, Jerry Brown, rejected her parole bid last time it was recommended, and must approve the Commissioner’s decision before it is official.
OUR FREE OPINION
If Van Houten’s parole is granted, she will still be closely monitored by her parole agent for years.
Her participation in the murder of Rosemary La Bianca was quite egregious. She helped hold Bianca down as other members of the cult stabbed her—she then grabbed the knife and stabbed her around twelve times. She was not present at the bloody Sharon Tate murder scene (Tate was pregnant) where four others were also killed.
No member of the Manson cult has been freed (one died) from prison. Manson, who is 82, also remains locked up.
Prisons have four primary purposes – deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. It appears to us that Van Houten qualifies for parole under any of these theories. Tough facts can unjustly shape policy and in this case, invite politics into the equation.
Obviously, Van Houten’s crimes are horrific, but she has served 40 plus years in prison. She was 19 at the time and easily influenced by Manson’s psychopathic and narcissistic powers. Her lack of disciplinary infractions for 40 years is impressive. Gov. Brown should not deny her parole again– If he does, it is purely for his own political reasons and is not supported by the record before him.