Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Holding A Grudge

Speaking of Vincent Bugliosi...call me a softie, but I just don't agree with this editorial in the Los Angeles Times.

You may of heard that Susan Atkins, former Manson cult member and convicted murderer, is asking for release from prison on humanitarian grounds. She has terminal brain cancer. The Times along with many others, I'm sure, opposes her release. They don't think it's fair.

I agree with Bugliosi. It is pointless and a waste of taxpayer's money to keep Atkins in prison until her death.

I've followed the Manson Family gals off and on through the years. The editorial refers to the productive use Atkins has made of her time in prison. Funny, I'd read some years ago that Atkins was the one in the whole bunch of Mansonites that's still looney tunes. Maybe what I was reading was wrong, or maybe there's a little truth to both accounts.

She should still be released.

Even more so goes to her accomplices in crime, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel. I actually watched each of their parole hearings on Court TV a couple times. I just didn't feel the threat existed anymore. In fact, Leslie Van Houten seemed like a real sweetheart of a lady with, by all accounts, a stellar record in prison.

One thing I'd read somewhere, earlier on, was that Van Houten actually made parole once years ago, but it was revoked because she failed a urine test for marijuana. Her Wikipedia doesn't make any mention of it so either they missed it or I read it wrong.
Watching her during her parole hearing, I was thinking it wouldn't bother me having her living next door.

Yep, I know most of us feel that people need to pay the penalty for what they've done. I just can't help but wonder if we're beating ourselves over the head trying to keep people in prison who aren't a threat to us anymore? There's always going to be some person who's a real threat that could make better use of Atkins, Krenwinkel or Van Houten's prison space.


12 Comments:

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are reasons for keeping someone in prison that go beyond their actual current danger to society. How about the brothers that kidnapped a schoolbus full of children in Chowchilla many years ago. Based on what I've read they've been model prisoners but can't get paroled. Some people were just meant to die in prison to make a point about the evil of their actions. I can live with that.

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Andrew Bird said...

I agree with you, Fred. Can anyone argue she hasn't "paid her debt to society?"

I've admired Bugliosi since reading his book on the Mason murders, "Helter Skelter," in the 1970s.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Well, I don't know that the L.A. Times was arguing that, but they might have been arguing as 11:10 is that it's simply a matter of making a point.

I don't know that I agree with that. At this point, especially in Susan Atkins' case, it seems pointless. The lady's supposedly dying, for crying out loud.

I wonder how much difference it would to Atkins herself? I realize her, or those on her behalf, made the request for compassionate relief, but I wonder how bad her condition is.

Still, regardless of that, it would make sense to me to have someone that really is a threat to society in Atkins' prison bed.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Oh, I might add: If you've ever watched any of the parole hearings for these gals, there was always this representative from the L.A. County District Attorney's office present- usually the same guy, if memory serves me correct. He would be there every time to argue the gals hadn't served their debt to society.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Oh, I might add #2: I believe someone on Court TV mentioned, back then, that Susan Atkins had never been considered for parole because she had something along the line of, to paraphrase as best I remember: "Too many mental health issues...", or some such.

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous heraldo said...

Atkins has spent more time in prison than any other California prisoner, according to the LA Times. She's also had a leg amputated because of her current health problems. She is clearly no longer a threat.

Prisons in CA are bursting at the seams with over-crowding. I say let her go.

 
At 4:25 AM, Blogger Stephen said...

I agree with the King of Anonymous slanderers in Humboldt County on this one. There's no point in keeping her locked up. The Mansons are history and jails don't do anything but warehouse criminals and teach them more criminal skills.

Some of the Manson family visited our "hippie" roommates one day while we were living in Ojai back in 1968. They handed out cards that said "Squeaky is a fink" if memory serves. I say "hippie" because we ourselves were that except for hippie uniforms, the tie-dyed T-shirts, pants falling apart and re-sewn with frills, sandals, etc.--the early version that changed into camo later on for 2nd and 3rd generation hippies you see in Arcata--the mean generations that lost "peace, love and harmony" long ago if they ever knew of it.

Ojai was a strange place. Krishnamurtites there, former Hollywood hippies from the 30's, 40', 50's. All faithfully following like good clones Krishnamurti's mantra of non-organized religious consciousness that follows a watered-down theosophicalized Hindu path. Krishnamurti's former business manager lived royally in Ojai after ripping off Krishnamurti. That's why Krishnamurti refused to return to Ojai when we lived there. We met the guy by he and wife soliciting "interesting" people to join them in buying a chunk of Costa Rican coastline. Guess Krishna's judgment wasn't all that great in choice of business managers. Doesn't say much for the higher consciousness he was peddling back then.

 
At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment, Fred, that "...Leslie Van Houten seemed like a real sweetheart of a lady with, by all accounts, a stellar record in prison..." is one reason she needs to serve her full sentence, like every other convicted felon.

The more charming they are, the more easily they can find new victims when and if they are released from prison.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If prisons in California are bursting at the seams with prisoners, it is because Californians want convicted felons in prison, not walking among us.

 
At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the only reason for releasing prisoners is because they supposedly do not pose a threat anymore, where does "recidivism" fit into your theory?

Prisons including California prisons, have a high rate of recidivism.

In practical terms, that means Convicted Criminals commit new crimes because we have released them before they served the full sentence for their old crimes.

Releasing prisoners before they serve their sentence is basically only an exercise in unwarranted optimism.

 
At 6:32 PM, Blogger Fred said...

3:38 wrote: "If the only reason for releasing prisoners is because they supposedly do not pose a threat anymore, where does "recidivism" fit into your theory?"

One of many things is, I was told back when I took an Administration of Justice course at C/R, that murderers actually have the lowest recidivist rate of all criminals.

 
At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that, too, Fred. But surely Leslie Van Houten is not a typical murderer. Besides, haven't murderers always been sentenced to the longest prison terms of any criminals? If they are given long sentences, maybe it is actually the long sentences that encourage low recidivism rates.

 

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