April 15, 2016

After 19 denials, a Manson family killer, Leslie Van Houten, is approved for parole.

"I don’t let myself off the hook," she told the parole panel. "I don’t find parts in any of this that makes me feel the slightest bit good about myself."

Van Houten was 19 in 1969 when the crimes took place. She's now 66.
Before the panel, Van Houten recounted how she held Rosemary [La Bianca] down with a pillow and lamp cord as Charles “Tex” Watson, another Mason Family member, stabbed her. Then he passed the knife to her, and Van Houten proceeded to stab Rosemary 14 times, later using the blood of the slain La Biancas to write messages on the walls of their home. The word “WAR” was carved on Leno La Bianca’s stomach.

“I took one of the knives … and we started stabbing and cutting up the lady,” Van Houten testified in 1971, as the Los Angeles Times noted. At a parole hearing in 1991, Van Houten said of Manson: “I thought he was Jesus Christ.”

Van Houten, who grew up in a Los Angeles suburb, was a homecoming queen who fell in with the counterculture. Her parents divorced when she was 14, and her mother forced her to have an abortion when she got pregnant not long after. As Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi recounted in the true-crime classic “Helter Skelter,” a psychiatrist who interviewed Van Houten called her “a spoiled little princess” unable “to suffer frustration and delay of gratification” who once beat her adopted sister with a shoe.
Here's Leslie Van Houten in 1994, talking to Larry King — "Leslie, what were you doing?" — 25 years after the murders:

61 comments:

Andrew Lale said...

I'm as old Testament about punishment as the next man, but it sounds like it is time for this woman to go back into society. It sounds like she understands clearly what she did, and is just as clear about her own culpability.

Oso Negro said...

Just remember folks - it's all fun and games to follow a messianic figure until the strangling , stabbing and dismemberment begin.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

At a parole hearing in 1991, Van Houten said of Manson: “I thought he was Jesus Christ.”

It's a shame that nobody ever stopped by her high school and offered her lunch and a chance to talk about the real Jesus.

Hagar said...

She can hardly "go back into society." She would not be able to cope. Presumably she has relatives who will take her in.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...her mother forced her to have an abortion when she got pregnant...

Teach the children well...

Rob said...

No super-predator, she.

CStanley said...

It's interesting to hear her description of the indoctrination which involved the Eastern religious practice of denying the individual ego and of time (live only in the moment.) I recently read The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle which advocates those practices, and came away with the feeling that there is some value in the meditations but also a great danger (especially with the dissolution of ego.) This is a perfect example of that danger, when it's done in the context of a controlling person who wills the subjects to lose their own identities in order to co-opt them.

Curious George said...

"Andrew Lale said...
I'm as old Testament about punishment as the next man, but it sounds like it is time for this woman to go back into society. It sounds like she understands clearly what she did, and is just as clear about her own culpability."

Clearly you are not.

robinintn said...

"...she understands clearly what she did, and is just as clear about her own culpability."

Is this all it takes?

Tarrou said...

Male privilege right here! If a woman had done what this guy did, she'd still be behind bars!

mezzrow said...

In the context of today's zeitgeist, is it possible that others may be encouraged by her release? Just asking...

Danno said...

She should have been executed 45 years ago. But then again, she'll fit right in the state of California.

Robert Cook said...

"'...she understands clearly what she did, and is just as clear about her own culpability.'

"Is this all it takes?"


Supposedly, the purpose of our justice system is not just to warehouse convicted criminals until they serve their full sentences or die, but to rehabilitate them so they may return to society as changed people. "Penitentiary" comes from the notion of the inmates serving penance for their offenses, and becoming penitant of them over time.

If we really believe this, shouldn't Ms. Van Houten be granted parole after nearly 50 years in prison?

Gahrie said...

So what university is she going to teach at?

Shannon said...

Disgraceful. She should never see the light of day.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Robert Cook said...

If we really believe this, shouldn't Ms. Van Houten be granted parole after nearly 50 years in prison?

Assuming all of your premises, doesn't that depend on whether she has been rehabilitated? She may well have clearly understood what she did, and have been just as clear about her own culpability on the day she was arrested. Those in no way imply that she would not happily do the same thing again.

( I'm not saying she is not rehabilitated, or that she should not be paroled. Just answering your question. )

Robin Eatmon said...

All of the above. She will be residing in Hell...later.

Peter said...

"Supposedly, the purpose of our justice system is not just to warehouse convicted criminals until they serve their full sentences or die, but to rehabilitate them ..."

Well, perhaps one purpose. Another is to use the threat of punishment to deter crime; still another is to keep dangerous, convicted criminals where they can't harm the public.

Levi Starks said...

Just out of curiosity, she's 66, can't possibly have social security benefits, I'm wondering get how she can live?

Michael said...

Aren't most criminals rehabilitated when the cell doors slam shut? Some, like this one, take a while to get it, but once they do they are all Jesus and helping others in the run up to the parole board. I think old Leslie here was a Manson girl for years after she resided in the slammer.

Rob said...

Come on, at nineteen you do crazy things. Who among us hasn't stabbed somebody to death and written on the walls in blood?

tim maguire said...

Van Houten said of Manson: “I thought he was Jesus Christ.”

Reminds me of the time Jesus commanded Peter to hold down the peasant girl and slice her up...

Those of us who oppose the death penalty will never convince a majority of the public so long as the system cannot be trusted to ensure that "life in prison" actually means life in prison.

Gusty Winds said...

She'd better not grow any marijuana in her back yard.

Mada Gasper said...

CStanley - you mean the perversion of Eastern practices marketed in the West as "New Age." Boy, if I had a penny for everytime someone in America claimed to understand Eastern "religion" (in quotes because they aren't religions at all in the same sense as the Semitic revealed religions). Pat Robertson, of course, is the only guy who truly understands us. After all, Hindus, in his view, are "devil worshippers." Like Van Houten, maybe.

tim maguire said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...
"Robert Cook said...If we really believe this, shouldn't Ms. Van Houten be granted parole after nearly 50 years in prison?"

Assuming all of your premises, doesn't that depend on whether she has been rehabilitated?


We also have to assume that she has done her penance. Cook's reasons for why it's time to let her go actually do not speak at all to whether it's time to let her go.

CStanley said...

Fair enough, Mada Gasper....I included a reference to my limited exposure, purposefully, to disclose that I don't consider myself expert on the subject at all. It's just an impression I have, and I agree that the negativity has to do with a perversion of spiritual practices and not the practices themselves. Clearly Manson also used a perversion of Christianity to portray himself as a Messiah.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"Assuming all of your premises, doesn't that depend on whether she has been rehabilitated? She may well have clearly understood what she did, and have been just as clear about her own culpability on the day she was arrested. Those in no way imply that she would not happily do the same thing again."

Yes, that is the question. I'm not in a position to make the judgment, of course. Given the decision to grant her parole, the parole officials did make that judgment. Moreover, I doubt a 66 year old woman who has spent most of her life in prison is apt to behave like a 19 year who was under the influence of a megalomaniacal cult leader who used drugs and sex to bring about compliance to his directives by his followers.

Sydney said...

The late 1960's must have been a scary time. I was a child, so I didn't notice much. But I remember being afraid of people who looked like hippies.

William said...

She's spent most of her life in prison and is no longer a threat to others. To be free for the time left will just add another level of poignancy to the remorse and regret.. I don't see any harm in letting her go, nor any benefit to keeping her in prison. But a person is deficient in imagination if he claims that there are no crimes worthy of the death penalty nor, for that matter, worthy of keeping someone's aged carcass in prison until death........I was just reading the Manchester biography of General MacArthur. The Japanese were no slouches when it came to war crimes, and MacArthur came into a considerable amount of criticism for the leniency with which he handled these criminals. Only eight Japanese were hanged for war crimes. The criticism of MacArthur's leniency came most vehemently from the left, but his post war occupation was a success. The left were especially angered that he did not imprison or hang the Japanese industrialists and Filipino collaborators, but those were the people who got the post war economies of their countries up and running........The left shows far more leniency to my enemies than to those it considers its own enemies.

The BubFather said...

King, "Sorry we had to kill someone, but it had to be done." Van Houten,"yes."

I think everyone is entitled to God's grace if they truly repent, but not too sure they should be released here on earth from their punishment. Besides that, there is the government side of forgiveness, the families whose members were killed side of forgiveness and ultimately God. I am not rightly able to forgive her, that's up to those three above, but letting her out just doesn't feel right.

The BubFather

mockturtle said...

She should have been executed 45 years ago. But then again, she'll fit right in the state of California.
Exactly.

CStanley said...

I think this was a just decision after 50 years served, but I would have had more respect for her if she had said she would forego her right to ask for parole. It might have even been the better decision for her personally, as I would assume it would be nearly impossible to adjust to a life of freedom after spending all of your adult years in prison.

Curious George said...

Robert Cook said...

"Penitentiary" comes from the notion of the inmates serving penance for their offenses, and becoming penitant of them over time.

WHat a bunch of crap. It's called the penal system, not the repentance system. Penal means "to punish" and comes from the latin for pain and penalty.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think that she is going to be a danger to the community. I don't think that she is going to reoffend. I think that the real debate involves capital punishment. She probably should have been executed, but that isn't/wasn't politically acceptable in CA, so the next best thing is a near life imprisonment. There are people who probably don't deserve to be outside prison (if not executed), and she may be one of them. Society tells us what it accepts as behavior by how it penalizes transgressors. These were esp. barbaric and vicious murders, and should have been the types to get extreme punishment. Letting her out, even now, may be lessening this affect.

Mada Gasper said...

CStanley - yes, well said.

rcocean said...

"but to rehabilitate them so they may return to society as changed people"

That's just 1960s bullshit - that's been proven wrong. We've been trying to rehabilitate crooks since forever, and results are dismal.

Only the person involved can change their minds and its impossible for Parole boards to determine who has really "changed" and who is just lying in order to get a parole.

rcocean said...

BTW, you'd be shocked at actual sentence served by those convicted of Murder One.

Its not anywhere near "for the rest of your natural life".

rcocean said...

Here's a quote from a 2000 DoJ study:

"In summary, of the 8,600 persons convicted of murder or
nonnegligent manslaughter in 2000, about 23% received a life
sentence, 2% were sentenced to the death penalty, and the
remaining 75% received a probation or an incarceration sentence
expressed in days, months, or years."

holdfast said...

The death penalty would avoid all these messy parole hearings.

Really, "life" almost never means life. Maybe I am just bitter, being from Canada where "life" used to mean 15 years, but I really don't trust judges, governors and parole boards.

I guess I am with The Donald on this - an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

DanTheMan said...

When do the La Bianca's get released from their death sentences?

William said...

Well, it frees up another prison cell in our over burdened prison system. It will make it that much easier to find accommodations for Hillary and Lois Lerner. You've got to look at the big picture. I wonder if Hillary will be entitled to conjugal visits or is that considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Howard said...

I hope Moonbeam sends her back to the hole where she belongs. Who cares if she is "rehabituated", what she did is unforgivable.

madisonfella said...

Tell me again how weed is totally harmless.

Rcocean is right - criminals can not be rehabilitated. They are broken people, can not be fixed, and must be removed from society forever. Lefty loons will cry out that some criminals can be saved, but that is just progressive nonsense and we need to stop wasting money fighting a useless battle.

And like Curious George said, we need to inflict pain on those who choose to break the law. a LOT of pain. Otherwise, what is the point of punishing them?

JPS said...

CStanley:

"I would have had more respect for her if she had said she would forgo her right to ask for parole."

That's just what I was thinking. She doesn't let herself off the hook - but she's asked 20 times to be freed. And I can't help wondering, was she just as sincerely repentant on the first of those 19 denied requests?

I'd be willing to make exceptions in very rare cases, and maybe this ought to be one, but in general life really should mean life.

boycat said...

Maybe if she was truly reformed she'd realize she doesn't deserve to be released.

Gabriel said...

Executed criminals never go on to kill anyone else, but criminals sentenced to life in prison can and do.

Exhibit A, in the news this week, the murderer of Kitty Genovese. Sentenced to death, commuted to life in prison. Escaped and committed more felonies.

Even if they don't escape, they can kill other inmates and guards, they can be released by parole boards and judges.

We're so worried about the possibility of wrongfully executing an innocent, but we care not at all about the innocents who die because we didn't execute someone who has proven themselves dangerous.

Charlie Eklund said...

Several here have written about life imprisonment versus the death penalty. Van Houten, along with the other Manson Family killers, were all originally sentenced to death. In its infinite wisdom, the state of California changed all death sentences already in effect to life imprisonment when the US Supreme Court ordered a pause in executions across the US back int the 1970s. That is the reason why Manson and his murderous cabal are now legally eligible for parole, even though many consider them morally ineligible to ever leave prison. Why a special "life without parole" option was not created by the state of California for former death penalty convicts is a mystery to me as well as being a miscarriage of justice.

john mosby said...

Okay, no one else did, so I will:

....Milhouse was unavailable for comment.

JSM

Michael said...

In the matter of her "rehabilitation" I wonder if she has learned any skills in prison lo these fifty years. Did she learn a trade? Can she write code, fix a refrigerator, cook, do plumbing, re-wire a BMW, anything? Anything at all? Or is she just another helper to be unleashed into society helping.

chickelit said...

Will she be free to agitate for Charlie's release or will that be stipulated as a no-no?

bagoh20 said...

I feel the desire to put this in the past by freeing her, but when I examine why I have that feeling, it's really just a desire to be compassionate, and then I have to face the question of why she deserves compassion when her victims remain unable to be given any similar relief from what she did, and it seems unfair.

My older brother was murdered by a career criminal convict mistakenly released in the 80's. Frank was shot in the chest on the street and died in my mother's arms right where he fell. They caught the guy immediately, and he was eventually sentenced to 25 years, he got paroled after about 7 and immediately committed new crimes and went back. He wrote my mom a couple threatening and taunting letters for no real reason other than cruelty. Eventually, he died in prison a few years ago. When I told my mother the news, she just broke down in tears, but they were tears of joy, and relief, and closure finally after two decades. I don't think I ever saw her so happy.

There is something incredibly unjust about murderers ever going free. The asshole spent almost his entire life in prison. He said he actually preferred it to life outside, which was why he immediately re-offended when released. I am a supporter of the death penalty, carefully applied, but quick and reliably. Respect for the seriousness of what is taken, and those it is taken from demands it. If we truly value life, how can we let the thief keep what he took.

William Chadwick said...

I thought at first she convinced Obama that she was actually a member of the Weather Underground and a pal of Bill Ayers, so Il Dufe pardoned her. Of course such a thing wouldn't happen in real life.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Charlie Eklund: For Van Houten, at least, (according to Wikipedia): "Van Houten was given a life sentence that entailed eligibility for parole, which the prosecutor said she would one day be suitable for." Also, in CA, "By law, life sentences are required to have the possibility for parole"

Rachel said...

The real debate isn't that she murdered but WHO she murdered.
the Manson family offed an industrialist and a pregnant movie star who was the wife of a well know director. Had they offed the manager of a Piggly Wiggly and a cocktail waitress we would be going "Manson, who?" "Leslie who?" now.

The deceased social status guaranteed a media showcase, even for today.

remember what Chris Rock said about the OJ case? Unfortunately it's the same thing. Perhaps the best thing we can do as a society is truly push for true life in jail irregardless of the cost.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSRaaNjzSyo

Rachel said...

PS...and status

Rob McLean said...

Van Houten (is) now 66.

Young enough to go on a book tour and do the rounds of second-level cable TV talk shows, I guess.

JCC said...

So, a certifiable whack job who committed or participated in multiple, gory murders has now spent a lifetime in prison, an environment guaranteed to make even normal people crazy. And this makes her eligible for release because she's now even more bent than when she went in?

But we talked to her first and she says it's all good now, she feel much better about things now. Plus she made her bed every morning, followed the rules inside, didn't chop up any more pregnant women, that kind of thing. And we wouldn't want to deny her a chance to be all she can be, to reach her potential. What could go wrong?

We should probably leave her right where she is and incarcerate the Parole Board that contemplated this as a good idea.

But this kind of travesty happens every day, all over. It's why the 1994 Crime Bill - which the FBI Suspect of the Month is running from - encouraged states to adopt minimum mandatory sentencing schemes.

Rusty said...

Levi Starks said...
Just out of curiosity, she's 66, can't possibly have social security benefits, I'm wondering get how she can live?

Alas she is eligible for SS. In the leviathan states infinite wisdom everyone who has had a job at one time or another is eligible. She also gets medicaid.

Curious George said...

"madisonfella said...
And like Curious George said, we need to inflict pain on those who choose to break the law. a LOT of pain. Otherwise, what is the point of punishing them?"

I never said that penguin you lying POS.

Charlie Eklund said...

Fred Drinkwater: All of the Manson Family murderers, including Leslie Van Houten, were originally sentenced to death.

From CNN:

Van Houten and others were convicted for the 1969 murders of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. Van Houten was sentenced to death in 1971 but one year later the death penalty was overturned. Her first conviction was overturned, too, because her lawyer died before that trial ended.

Link (presented in a non-fancy non-HTML manner): http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/14/us/manson-family-leslie-van-houten-possible-parole/index.html