Manson family murderer recommend for parole, California governor says nope

Originally published at: Manson family murderer recommend for parole, California governor says nope | Boing Boing


I wonder if the Governor’s office is really equipped to do a more through and expert review than the professionals on the parole board.

If you really believe in the possibility of reform and redemption for offenders who commit certain crimes (and I understand that many people believe that some crimes are beyond any possibility of redemption) then you’ve got to let the parole board do their jobs, with very rare exceptions. It’s clear that Governor Newsom likes to put his thumb on the scale for high profile cases. He’s overruled parole decisions on another Manson follower and RFK’s killer, among others.


Even if there was a way to 100% guarentee these folks would never reoffend in anyway, not even a ticket for jaywalking, they will never be released on parole. The govenor that allows that would look soft on crime and none of them want that, they won’t risk reelection for it. The US penal system is all about punishment and retribution, not rehabilitation.


These particular crimes left scars on the collective psyche and self-image of California that persist to this day. There’s zero political upside for Newsom or any other governor of either party to follow the parole recommendations of the experts. The Republicans are about punishment and cruelty anyhow. The Dems won’t do well in releasing prisoners who betrayed the ideals of peaceful 1960s California liberalism by being self-styled hippies and activists who murdered liberals in high-profile ways.


I don’t have any sympathy/empathy for the Manson crew.


I don’t think Newsom’s reelection is at risk (he’s currently polling at about 62% and is projected to have a greater than 99% chance of winning) but there is a good chance he’s looking towards a future Presidential run.

What’s disappointing to me is that he’s actually overruling the parole board more frequently than a lot of supposedly less “progressive” governors in the past. I don’t know the latest statistics but I found an article noting that as of April 2020 he had reversed parole decisions four times as frequently as his predecessor Jerry Brown, and Brown had a history of “tough on crime” measures despite his “Governor moonbeam” reputation.


The only reason the parole board considered it this time is because of new laws that required them to consider as mitigating factors that she was under 21 when she committed the brutal murders, and was over 65 now. Those two facts basically meant she was all but guaranteed a pass from the parole board.


This is an important thing that people outside California may not understand. And, it’s why the Governors have a say in things. The job of the Parole Board is to look at the case from the standpoint of parole benchmarks and guidelines. And the job of the Governor is not to be a parole board. It’s to look at it from an entirely different perspective and make a decision. Oftentimes it’s a routine agreement, and that’s fine. Sometimes the Governor should disagree.

My wife is from RightCoastopia. I grew up in Southern California. When I saw the news over the weekend, with the headline “Manson Family Member Denied Parole” I knew exactly who it was without reading the article. I said “Oh good, Patricia Krenwinkle was denied parole.” Ms.Pane said “Hmmmm. . . a murder thing? Is that one of the Manson people?” But she didn’t know much else about the murders.


To be clear, I don’t think it’s great that Newsom is disregarding the recommendations of the experts. I do understand what’s motivating him to do so in these particular cases.


Well, that’s one reason why the decision probably shouldn’t be left to members of the public or politicians who make decisions based on personal political ambitions.

What’s the point of having parole boards at all if the people who spent years familiarizing themselves with the case and carefully evaluating the decades-long progress of the convicts’ rehabilitation if the decision-makers are just going to overrule them anyway?

This. We’d be better served by a system that created more insulation between the people evaluating any given convict’s eligibility for parole and the elected officials who are forever at the mercy of populist whims.


She is 74 years old. She’s been in prison for most of her life. How do you re-integrate someone like that back into a society that, or all intents and purposes, is totally alien to them?


The same way that countless other elderly ex-convicts have been successfully re-integrated, maybe? It’s not like the parole board has no experience with this kind of thing.

I think a “we should keep her in prison until she dies because it’s for her own good” line of argument isn’t a particularly strong one.


Think of it this way: It took 22 years for her to change from an innocent infant into a murdering cult member. Now she’s had well over twice that time for her to change from a murdering cult member into something else.

If our Department of Corrections has any rehabilitative qualities at all (which ought to be our goal even if it’s not always true in practice) then we should at least entertain the possibility that she may be ready to rejoin society by now.


I sure wouldn’t want her to move in next door, and I doubt any of you would, either.

She chased her around and stabbed her 28 times.

28 times.


The possibility was entertained. It was rejected.

Lots of people go out on parole. There are more than 800,000 out on parole right now. That a woman who brutally slaughtered another human, and participated in the slaughter of others, isn’t being set free doesn’t highlight the problems with the system. As a white woman she had a better chance than others. The heinousness of her crimes remains too fresh.

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No, it’s a politician routinely overriding the considered judgement of professional parole boards that’s the problem. This guy is vetoing their decisions way more than Pete Wilson did. A system where an elected official is unilaterally making these judgments at the frequency that the current governor is doing so is not the way that the justice system should be set up.

If you’re of the opinion that more criminals shouldn’t even be considered for parole the right way to do that would be to make the laws even more draconian than they are now, so that people at least know how the system is meant to work.


… so Gavin Newsom has his own personal parole board, in addition to the real one :confused:


California politicians may not understand how unpopular their state is in the rest of the country

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This Is the Most Hated State in America — Best Life

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I find it extremely unlikely that Gavin Newsom (let alone anyone in this forum) put as much time, research and expertise into the question of this woman’s case as the parole board did.


That heinous crime was the act of a highly disturbed 22-year-old.

One of the central questions before the parole board is whether this 74-year-old woman is fundamentally the same person as the young woman who committed that crime.