Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten released from prison after 50 years

Originally published at: Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten released from prison after 50 years | Boing Boing


No sympathy, no thoughts, no prayers.

I hope the current world is utterly terrifying and daunting to her, and that she never knows a single moment of peace or contentment.

I don’t care how young she was when she fell under Manson’s sway and killed people for him.


I’m with you. Sadly though, knowing how the world is today, she’ll probably get a book deal or a Netflix special. :unamused:


She would do well in politics. Manson’s race war is all the rage right now.


As I wrote elsewhere, I hope her time as a free person passes quickly. I look forward to seeing BB posting her obituary.


I was going to say that I thought there was a law preventing her from profiting from telling her story, but I decided to verify that first, and discovered that California’s Son of Sam law was declared unconstitutional over 20 years ago. This might be one situation where I would be ok with some limits of freedom of speech. I mean…she can tell her story, I don’t care, but she shouldn’t be able to profit from that telling.


I wonder what that’s like. She’s been in prison longer than I’ve been alive, and it’s not like she’s exactly getting a second chance- everyone knows who she is, who is going to give her a job? That’s not really a complaint about the justice system, there are some crimes that are deservedly life-ruining and unforgivable, crimes where if you commit them, it’s just over for you and you’ve thrown away any chance of a normal life. It’s more a question of “what even is the point?”


“What is even the point” goes both ways, I guess.

I don’t feel sorry for her or especially care what happens to her but half a century is a long-ass time to keep someone—anyone—in prison. She’s almost certainly no longer a danger to society so the only reason to keep her in prison at this point is to satisfy our own collective desire for retribution. So when I hear stories like this I tend not to think about “what kind of sentence does this person deserve?” so much as “what does this kind of justice system say about us?”


That there is no actual justice, in most cases.


I don’t know. Being released into a world where everyone hates her and she’s elderly and completely out of touch with everything doesn’t necessarily seem more humane than keeping her in prison for her final years. I suppose it depends on how much of a support network she’s given and how well she manages to adapt. If we’re basing it entirely on “what does it say about us” then I’m actually pretty much okay with murderers being locked away permanently. It’s the only justice their victims and their families will ever get, after all- the knowledge that they can never, ever hurt anyone again and that their lives are effectively over. The fact that “over” translates to life in prison rather than murder by the state already seems like the moral high ground, in my opinion.




Those are the only two options available to her now. I’m good with either.


Counterpoint: Norway has one of the lowest murder rates in the world and the maximum prison sentence there is 21 years (with a provision that sentences can be extended in 5-year increments if the convict is deemed an ongoing danger to society).

If harsher prison sentences equated better social outcomes the United States would be a fucking utopia.


I cost society ~$40,000/year for my SSI, Medicare/MediCal, SNAP and low cost housing, but that’s less than half what it costs to keep someone in prison


I’d be interested in learning more about that, especially how the victims’ families feel, what the released murderers have to say and what they do when they get out, the conditions of prison in Norway vs. the USA, etc. However, I assume Norway has a lot more factors that contribute to that low murder rate besides those shorter prison sentences. Lacking those factors here, my instinct is to lean in favor of the victims rather than the murderers. Whatever country you live in, “Don’t deliberately kill anyone” is a low bar to clear. We should strive to be more like Norway in many ways but shorter sentences for murderers specifically is low on the priority list.


Conversely I think “longer sentences for convicted felons” should be low on America’s priority list given that we’re pretty much the world champions in that category already.


Well, luckily that’s not what I’m advocating.

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Longer sentences? This murderer didn’t even fulfill the conditions of her original sentence.


Why do we put people in prison?

To punish them?
To rehabilitate them?
To protect society from them?


Prison sentences tend to get longer and harsher, so there’s plenty of punishment baked in right there, but I’m leaning towards “because it’s politically popular” as the main reason.