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Crime, Punishment and Turning Ones Life Around in Prison

This has been rolling in my mind for a few days since I read about it. Leslie Van Houten was granted parole but Governor Jerry Brown denied it. The case as you well know is the Tate/LaBianca gmurders. Leslie was the youngest involved in those killings and killed the LaBianca ouple

First my mother strenously believes Leslie Van Houten needs to spend life in prison. She says she remembers those days vividly and how scared people were especially parents with a young child, yeah she was talking about herself and me. She also does not believe she was manipulated.

I am leery of that myself. Yet she did while in jail help other prisoners, was a model prisoner and earn her degrees. Ok you could argue she had the time to get her degrees since she had the chance too. Also education status means nothing in terms of not being a threat.


She is a model prisoner and helped other prisoners. Should that count. Also she is 66 is she remotely the same person she was at 19? Should that count?

I know everyone says “life should mean life”. In reality should it? Should we take into account behavior in prison or how they think and act at 19 may not even be close to how they think and act at 66.

Viscerally I agree throw away the keys. I like to think we are better then thinking at a visceral level. Part of me leans in favor of Brown. For the very simple reason she is taking no responsibility. Yes its easy to say “Manson manipulated me”. This is first degree murder, this is behavior in the courtroom where she acted without remorse and seemed proud. To say now “I was manipulated” seems wrong. It also leads to the question can one be manipulated into murder?

If she said she took full responsibility I would pause and question more Brown’s decision. Though Brown may have decided differently too. Then I would ask what I asked above about being a model prisoner, helping other prisoners and if she is the same person as she was then. Should that count even with the charge of murder 47 years ago.


Of course being one of if not the most famous murder spree in our history that also factors against her.

Your thoughts? I wish I saw this as simple decision like my mother sees it. But nope. I assume 47 years from now I will see the Boston bomber same way she sees Van Houten. Objectivety and neutrality will be nonexistant since I will have the memory and emotions of that bombing.



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