Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts on the Manson Family, 40 Years Later

It's been 40 years since the Manson Family murders in 1969. For those of you out there who are too young to remember, Charles Manson, the self-styled guru and leader of a gang of then teens and twenty somethings, led his followers (some say exhorted them) to commit horriffic crimes in his name, i.e., the Tate-LaBianca murders, whereby the victims were not only killed, but their bodies mutilated (Sharon Tate's unborn child was viciously pulled from her dying body) and the walls of the homes scrawled with their blood.

After they were apprehended and during the trial, the members of the "Family" etched swastikas into their forheads, sang and shouted at witnesses, and in general gave the impression that they were above mortal law.

Now, forty years later, some of the Family members are asking to be released. I say why?

Take Leslie Van Houten for all accounts she has been a model prisoner during her 40 years in prison, helping other inmates to adjust, reading books for the sight impaired, earning 2 college degrees, etc., but does this mean she should be released? Originally, she and her co-conspirators were given the death penalty, but their sentences were commuted to life when California banned the death chamber. To me, such a commutation means life, without parole. Surely the very viciousness of her crime demands her continued incarceration. She, of all the followers, had the best upbringing....upper middle class, a sound moral underpinning, and all of the potential for a wonderful life that goes with such a childhood. She could have been anything at all....professional or otherwise. Yet, she chose to follow the LSD drenched ravings of a sociopath and participate in murders so heinous that they will surely go down in the annals of crime history, and she had knowledge, through Pat Krenwinkel, of the Tate murders the previous night, which would have sent most moral, thinking people screaming for the door. Instead, she goes out the next night, knowing murder would be committed and participates in the murders.

And now, 40 years later, she thinks she should be paroled. Sorry, but life is life. Would she be a danger to society if released? I doubt it. I believe that she is aware of what she did and is truly remorseful, but does this mean she should be released? I say no. Sometimes what you do at 19 CAN and DOES have lifelong consequences. The Tate family is without their sibling and although he's a possible child molester himself, Sharon Tate's husband at the time, lost his son. The LaBianca family is without their parents and has been for 40 years now...why should any of them be released?

Gotta give Manson props on this one....he knows he'll never be released and hasn't bothered to show up for parole hearings in years. Given his life before the murders in 1969, prison was the only home he had known anyway and the place where he was most familiar....