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Does She Deserve Parole?

February 6, 2019
By Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

In August 1969, Leslie Van Houten was just 19 years old and received the death penalty for her role in one of the most heinous crimes America has ever seen.

When California rescinded the death penalty, and partly because her lawyer died before the end of the first trial, Van Houten was again put on trial. Although it took two trials before a guilty verdict was reached, Van Houten was finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her part.

The youngest member of the Manson Family to be sentenced to life in prison for the Manson Murders, Van Houten could be released early after a California Parole Board recommended her for release. The ultimate decision of her parole lies with California Governor Gavin Newsom and it could take up to 150 days for his decision to be reached.

I was only 5 years old at the time of the Manson Murders. Personally, I don't remember anything about it except for what I have seen in documentaries and movies. The murderous spree of the Manson Family began with the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea in August 1969 supposedly over money owed to Charles Manson. The Tate-LaBianca Murders followed this murder.

Manson wanted to start a race war, and have it blamed on the Black Panthers. I don't know much about the atmosphere in California and across the country regarding race but imagine if his idea would have worked. I shudder to think about it.

I've read a lot about the Manson family and murders on the Internet. How people could fall under the spell of someone like Charles Manson and follow his direction and instruction exactly escapes me.

I have discovered in searching the Internet, a website titled Charles Manson-The True Story. It contains tabs entitled: Victims, Defendants, Family, Trial, Vicinity, Theories and Further. Under the defendants' tab and family tab, one can read about members of the Manson Family, including Leslie Van Houten.

We have all read about the 60s, the Summer of Love and the Homecoming Queen arrived in the Haight-Ashbury District when she was 17, although she began a downward spiral three years before when her parents divorced.

Under Van Houten's tab, what seems like every excuse from her parents divorce to looking for something to believe in to being afraid of Manson is used to explain why she to part in murder. How long can blame be placed on someone else?

A psychiatrist once described Van Houten as a psychologically loaded gun, which went off because of the complex inter-meshing of highly unlikely, bizarre circumstances, a spoiled little princess who was impulsive, easily frustrated and prone to displays of temper.

In 2017 Van Houten told the parole board, "I take responsibility for the entire crime. I take responsibility going back to Manson being able to do what he did to all of us. I allowed it. I learned that I was weak in character. I was easy to give over my belief system to someone else. I sought peer attention and acceptance more than I did my own foundation. That I looked to men for my value, and I didn't speak up."

The question remains, should Leslie Van Houten be granted parole after? I'm sure everyone an opinion. The severity and gruesomeness of the crimes should be reason enough for her to remain in prison.

She had free will to make her own decisions and although a parole board feels that after 50 years, she deserves release, Sharon Tate's sister and 160,000 others don't agree.not be paroled and I am inclined to feel the same way.



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