Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weighing the value of Life versus the value of a Life Sentence

 So What does the Governor do? Here is a guy who is associated with the most notorious Murderer in American History. He may know more about other crimes, and indeed may have been involved in other crimes. Yet - he was personally really only involved with two crime scenes which can be proved, and neither was a contributor in making the case so infamous. As well- he has done twice as much time as anyone else (not also associated with this case) who has committed similar crimes. He has a very good record and meets the criteria for release in almost every measurable way...

A Political conundrum no doubt. But beyond the obvious reasons The Governor will have to make this decision about Mr. Davis- is the moral one. Does a life sentence mean a life sentence? Are the prison systems for rehabilitation, or just a way to lock up the bad guys and keep them away from the rest of us? Do we place more importance on judging the value of one man and his worthiness of some mercy and compassion, or do we value more the statement we can make  through this man to remind us all where society draws the line  with those individuals who have shown the lack of ability to demonstrate mercy and compassion themselves???? Naturally- this statement is most effective when the most people are paying attention.  Of course, this decision is much more than a review of his post incarceration record and suitability, and we have seen before how much weight the parole board's recommendation carries in this situation...

Saint says- Bruce stays put






12 comments:

AlisaStatman said...

St. C, very thought provoking statement.

Due to space, I’ll post this as a 2-parter.

My first thought is on the rehabilitation factor. To the best of my knowledge, by definition of the penal code in California, the reason a defendant is incarcerated is for punishment—there’s nothing about rehabilitation.

Second, some notes from Schwarzenegger’s Davis denial which I think still hold true today:

“Despite the positive factors I considered, the first-degree murders for which Davis was convicted were especially heinous because both victims were abused, tortured and mutilated…Indeed, some murders are so atrocious that the gravity of the murder, by itself, evidences current dangerousness. I believe this is such a case. Nonetheless, there is additional information in the record that also indicates current dangerousness.

I am concerned that, although Davis says he accepts responsibility and despite his participation in therapy and other programs in prison, he has still failed to obtain insight into his actions in the life offenses, because Davis has consistently claimed that he played a minor role in the commission of these murders. He initially stated…’I didn’t kill them. I am not sure Shea is dead.’ …When his 1973 evaluator asked him about his role in the murders, Davis stated that he ‘did not do them.’ Instead he claimed that he was ‘caught up in a public reaction against anyone who was an associate of Manson.’…

Davis continued to maintain his innocence until 1977, when his mental-health evaluator noted that Davis ‘assumed guilt and partial responsibility…but denied instigation or primary action…

In 1980 Davis ‘acknowledged being involved in both the murder(s)…but also managed to present himself as being a minor participant…he denied participating in any murderous behavior…

Davis in 1982…the evaluator wrote, ‘the inmate once again…presenting himself as a minor character, guiltless, except in the eyes of the law and forgiven by God. In regard to his crimes, his regret seems insincere…Two years later, Davis’ mental-health evaluator echoed these comments…

In 1985, Davis told his mental-health evaluator that ‘he was there but did not do the actual killings.’

During his 1988 Psychological Testing Report, Davis indicated that after he dropped his crime partners off at Hinman’s house, he returned to Spahn Ranch. After a couple days Manson received a call…Gary wasn’t cooperating…While Manson sliced Hinman’s ear, Davis held Hinman at gunpoint…With regard to Shea’s murder, Davis maintained that…it was ‘highly likely’ that the victim may have been dead by the time he cut him.

In 1997, Davis told his mental-health evaluator that he was at the Hinman residence for a few minutes when Manson cut Hinman with a knife. However, the evaluator wrote, ‘he makes no mention to me of holding a gun on him while this was happening.’…

In discussing the Hinman murder with his 1999 mental-health evaluation, Davis said, ‘I doubt if I pointed the gun at him but he might have taken it as a threat.’ He indicated that he felt coerced into ‘making at least a token cut on {Shea’s} shoulder.’…

In 2003, Davis told his mental-health evaluator… ‘We were standing on the boardwalk and Charlie said we’re going to kill Shorty and I couldn’t say no.’...Davis testified before the 2003 Board, ‘When I got down the hill after they had stabbed {Shea} they gave me a machete and there was—Now that’s when I hit the limit and said no. And I had no rationale for why I did. I did realize that I did have a limit, but I didn’t know I had one, I never thought about it.’

Davis told the 2004 Board, ‘I didn’t stab {Shea}. I just cut him with the tip of the blade.’

Davis continued to minimize his role…when he told his 2006 Mental-health evaluator that, although he was in the vicinity when Hinman was killed, he did not participate in the murder…

AlisaStatman said...

Part 2:
During his 2010 parole consideration hearing, although Davis initially exercised his right not to discuss the factual circumstances of the crime, he nonetheless said, ‘I bragged about it all. Yeah, we cut Shorty’s head off. Yeah, I wanted to be impressive. I wanted to seem like somebody. But, you know, ever time it came, when push came to shove, I always said no.’

Based on the record before me, I do not accept Davis’ limited acceptance of responsibility. The fact that Davis has consistently minimized his action in the life crimes by claiming that he had a limited role in these murders negates his responsibility for the killings because it demonstrates his failure to recognize that his actions directly contributed to the commission of the crimes. His statements reducing his responsibility for the crimes over the years indicate that he has still not gained sufficient insight into or accepted full responsibility for the murders….

Additionally, the sentencing court found the in the Hinman murder the Court believes that the defendant knowingly aided and abetted in the killing. The Court believes that Mr. Davis did so…willingly engaged in their activities…

As recently as 2008, in denying Davis parole, the 2008 Board concluded, ‘The indication from the Panel is that you minimize your conduct by blaming your father, assigning your role at the crime as…minor, the minimization of your {CDC}-115 {Serious violation of prison rules} and that you continue to represent yourself as a follower, ‘such as I didn’t kill anyone and I was emotionally hooked on the family atmosphere.’ We also noted that you continue to maintain a minor role, such as a delivery man (to Hinman’s house) in spite of the fact that you did provide the weapon that was used to hold Mr. Hinman while he was assaulted by Manson.’ The Board added, ‘With respect to the issue of credibility, the Panel feels that you’re not credible about the crime, specifically the inconsistent versions as to your involvement and that you lack insight into the causative factors of your conduct as evidenced by continued minimization…specifically as to the exact nature and extent of the wounds that are reported on Mr. Shea.’ …

Even the 2010 Board expressed its concerns with Davis’ minimization of his role in these crimes…Indeed, his lack of insight renders the life offenses…to my determination that Davis continues to pose a current, unreasonable risk to public safety because Davis cannot ensure that he will not commit similar crimes in the future if he does not completely understand and accept full responsibility for his offenses…

starship said...

Aye, there's indeed a conundrum. The parole board is concerned about the prisoner minimizing his role in the crimes. As if he just admits what he did and says he is sorry then he could possibly be 'forgiven' by the parole board at least. But then if the prisoner maximizes his role in the crimes and acknowledges responsibility then he often is portrayed as being unfit for parole because of the heinous nature of his crimes.

"Are the prison systems for rehabilitation, or just a way to lock up the bad guys and keep them away from the rest of us? Do we place more importance on judging the value of one man and his worthiness of some mercy and compassion, or do we value more the statement we can make through this man to remind us all where society draws the line with those individuals who have shown the lack of ability to demonstrate mercy and compassion themselves????"

Yep...that's it indeed. If we don't believe anyone in this situation could possibly be rehabilitated then our system is really pretty stupid. Just kill them and get it over with. The death penalty is a deterrent, correct? Make the death penalty the punishment for every crime we can't ever forgive. That would be a whole lot more consistent than what we have now. Provided we kill the correct people of course.

But what of those who never acknowledge that they committed the crimes they've been convicted of? Look up Cynthia Pugh and read her story, or look at Jeffrey MacDonald who today is mocked as a psychopath for refusing to acknowledge his culpability...while never wavering even just a bit that he did not kill his family.

starship said...

Oh, and I posted on a different thread before I saw this one that I believe it will be much more difficult for the Gov to deny Davis his parole now that he has been recomended for a second time in the face of the previous Gov's denial...

I would think that quite a lot rides on it...if he is paroled then there is hope for BB and LVH, but if he is denied after twice being recomended, then I'd bet even getting terminal brain cancer and having one of your legs sawed off won't do the trick either.

blipcrotch said...

Here's a couple of pretty simple questions, which I don't know the answer to.

Was Bruce Davis ever questioned about the Sharp/Gaul murders? Or about the suicide of John Phillip Haught?

If he was, did he offer blanket denials, or was he cooperative?

AustinAnn74 said...

This guy isn't going to be released. PERIOD. Gov. Brown doesn't want to be the one who releases a Manson Family member. It would be political suicide. Yes, Davis has completed self-help groups, AA, NA, etc, but it doesn't matter. He was a member of the Manson Family. None of them will ever be released, in my opinion.

Colli said...

"He was a member of the Manson Family. None of them will ever be released, in my opinion."

Clem Grogan was released over 25 years ago.

Matt said...

Jerry Brown is 74 years old and I do not believe has ambition to run for higher office.

He's made an issue of prison overcrowding.

I still say Davis walks.

AlisaStatman said...

Based on the below statistics of our past 3 Governors parole release rate of killers, I'm a little afraid that Matt is correct.

Davis 9 of 374--2%
Schwarzenegger 509 of 1909--27%
Brown 106 of 130--82%

beauders said...

i think he'll be released as well, which will help van houten. i think she'll be released by her 70th birthday. hopefully the rest will die in prison.

beauders said...

i think he'll be released as well, which will help van houten. i think she'll be released by her 70th birthday. hopefully the rest will die in prison.

andy said...

I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...
Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!
California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-6wxL7gGBQ