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

I don’t know; I may not be as exposed to her crimes being from the UK, but she’s certainly no Rose West.

It’s not for society at large to forgive or condemn her at this point; only the family and friends of her victims can do that.
But she’s served her time and gone out of her way to better herself while incarcerated, helping her fellow prisoners. She deserves a chance at life.

I think we need to be more understanding of people who have been indoctrinated by cults or cult-like figures.

I’m also aware that given the wrong circumstances, anyone can become a murderer.

I would like it if people would be able to accept that she has paid the price and help her re-integrate into society, but I suspect that many won’t be able to see past her crime.

For context, I grew up the only-child of a single-father social worker who couldn’t afford child care, so quite often, I would go with him on calls after school, where I met a lot of people on the edge of society, struggling to deal with the lot life had given them. It helped me develop an empathy for people in difficult scenarios.

Additionally, 17 years ago, I was the victim of an assault, which resulted in me permanently losing most of the sight in my right eye. The guy who did it served 6 months for assault, and I was fine with that.
I dread to think that his prison sentence might have resulted in him being exposed to more criminality, and I hope he was able to reform himself.


I do think a lot of people forget about the whole “correctional” aspect of spending time in prison and it’s generally why those who are genuinely psychopathic don’t go to conventional prison, instead they are usually sent to a high security medical facility and tend to have a lot more conditions placed on any parole attempts.

The whole point of prison is a combination of punishment (your freedom being stripped from you) and to act as a way of rehabilitating people for their eventual release back into society.

Sadly, very little rehabilitation happens and the way people are treated after they are released almost certainly results in crime becoming their only way to survive, which often puts them right back into prison.


There is no ‘we’ here; I’m an individual with my own opinion, and it’s allowed to be different from your own.

Have yourself a good day now; I’ve stated all I am willing to say on the subject.


But, for the record, if she’d wanted to stay in, she could’ve easily botched her parole hearing and stayed in.
I don’t really care about her, but I also don’t think it’s for us to say which is “more” humane, letting an aged prisoner out into a strange new world, or ignoring their pleas to be let out into that world (assuming we begin with the basis that they’re no longer a threat to society).
It’s also probably easier for me not to care given that I live 3,000 miles away. If I lived somewhere that I might ostensibly be waiting behind her at the grocery store, I’d be creeped right out.


In theory, punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation should be co-equal goals. But unfortunately in our culture we demand punishment at the expense of any other goal. It’s the only metric of “justice” we are willing or able to consider.

If anything in our system even dares give the appearance that it isn’t emphasizing punishment uber alles, we usually seek to root out those responsible to make sure our society’s priorities are clear. As others have pointed out though, if lengthy incarceration produced “justice,” we’d be living in paradise by now.


I saw another article on this, and her spokesperson (presumably a lawyer) said something to the effect that now she’s released, she has the support of “friends” and “several job offers.” I’m kinda guessing “friends” in this case means “weird old groupies,” and I have no idea what kind of job she’d actually be qualified for other than talking about Manson in a “professional” capacity.


The gQp ticket?


America focuses almost entirely on the punishment, and almost nothing on either rehabilitation nor attacking the root causes of a majority of crime.

It really has a 200-300 year old attitude to crime and punishment, and ignores so much of what we have learned about crime and people since then.

Serious question - how does someone like that survive in the real world?

She is in LA, right? If I was plopped down in LA today, with like $500 bucks to my name and access to a homeless shelter for a month - would I be able to find a job and and apartment? I am terrified at the idea. Sure, I could probably find a minimum wage + type job, but you can’t afford rent in LA on that. I have a BFA, so maybe I could get a job that pays better - maybe. And maybe my parents could wire me money if they had to - I have SOME level of outside help. I’d still feel like being thrown into a shark tank.

But this lady doesn’t have any of that. Seriously, what is the path here? I know they have this transition house mentioned in the article, but transition to what? Could you even work a customer facing job before someone goes, “Oh hey, you’re that lady that killed a bunch of people.” and then Starbucks has to let you go because the shop is mobbed with gawkers. And this isn’t even necessarily about HER - she is just a high profile example. Imagine the thousands of other people thrown back in the deep end with out a life jacket and told to swim, and we wonder why there is a high rate of recidivism.


I’m not sure this is true. After all, the western “penitentiary” system, where someone works to be penitent for their crimes, began in the US in the early 1800s. The whole idea was to reform the old prison system away from punishments and towards a system of rehabilitation. The fact that we have backslid since the idealistic early years is tragic.

It’s probably worth thinking about internal and external realities when it comes to the US justice system, and US prisons. US prisons have plenty of programs to rehabilitate prisoners. Community colleges and universities have classes, and there are all manner of educational programs to help prisoners learn skills to help them succeed on the outside. Unfortunately, the US “justice” system is set up in opposition to this.

An older, but classic book on early efforts at reform in the contest of social history is David Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic

Given that it’s from 1971, it does miss some things that we would want to see in a more modern history (the place of women, people of color, etc). But it’s a good start.


Just now (from Wikipedia) I learned that filmmaker John Waters befriended Van Houten and campaigned for her early release from prison. It seems that a fair number of folks here on the bbs are fans of John Waters.

I haven’t read/listened to these sources (that Wikipedia linked to) yet, but they look interesting, so I’ll put the links here in case anyone else here is interested.

The NPR is from All Things Considered in 2009, and the HuffPost is an excerpt from a book by Waters.

ETA: the Wiki also linked to a Guardian article about Waters that was mostly not about Van Houten; here is the relevant bit from that:

That said, Waters marks one subject as out of bounds for fun: the repercussions of the Manson family murders, a subject he has engaged with in various ways throughout his career. Waters has long campaigned for the release of his friend Leslie Van Houten, whom he got to know years after her conviction and incarceration as a teenage member of Manson’s cult. Van Houten has served a life sentence but repeated parole recommendations have been refused by political fiat given the case’s continued notoriety.

“She is now an almost 70-year-old woman that looks back with complete horror on what she did, and takes full blame for it, too,” Waters says. The Manson murders will receive more attention next year, their 50th anniversary, not least because they feature in Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. “Quentin is my friend,” Waters says. “I love him, I think he’s a great film-maker, I hope he’ll make a great movie. Will it help [Van Houten]? No movie can really help her because it just reminds people over and over and over. Just be glad your kid never met Manson.” To Waters, the subject fascinates because it offers “a question that there is no fair answer to. What is the humane way to deal with it? That’s what all my work is about.”


Being a fan of John Waters doesn’t mean mindlessly agreeing with everything he says. :woman_shrugging:


Yes, I agree with you on that. Of course being a fan of John Waters doesn’t mean mindlessly agreeing with everything he says.

I posted it because I thought that people here might be interested in John Waters’ take on the subject.


Okay. Maybe, but it might not change people’s minds on the topic, either.


I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind.

I thought it might be interesting to people.


Awkward Kenan Thompson GIF by Saturday Night Live


Huh. I’ve always been curious about the mindset of people who purposely seek out friendships with convicted violent criminals after the fact, so I read the first part of the HuffPo story. It was like a little glimpse of living in CA as a young person at that time. Interesting, for sure. I didn’t realize how crazy the trials were.
But, that 1 part was enough for me.
Tangentially related, I read this novel a few years ago, loosely inspired by the Manson family story.

Told from the POV of a young girl who sees the family and desperately wants to be one of the “cool” kids. Creepy, but interesting.


I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Son of Sam law - Wikipedia.




Oh damn, I don’t know why I thought that there was a federal Son of Sam law…


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