Monday, July 25, 2016

The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten - What is Fair Versus What is Right


  "Today, at the age 51, after 3 trials and with no parole in sight, Leslie has become a remarkable survivor of a living nightmare. This work presents the first in- depth look at how this "girl next door" became one of Manson's "girls". It also tell's of Karlene Faith's 30 year relationship with Leslie, whom she met while living in prison. To everyone who encountered Leslie - including prison staff, and television journalists, she was not the demon typically portrayed by the media, but rather a gentle, generous spirit who mourned her victims."

      - Excerpt from Amazon page for The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten- Life Beyond The Cult

"I went back to the bedroom and told Leslie to help Katie stab the woman, even though it was obvious Rosemary Labianca was already dead. Leslie obeyed me, striking mostly on the exposed buttocks, but with none of the enthusiasm Katie showed."

     - Tex Watson in "Will you die for me" 

"And in the transcripts you do have, "81", "Time is important in this case. I think time its important. I think she should be observed for a longer time. She's going down the right path. And I've said to other Boards, my position with Ms. Van Houten is different than with the other members of the Family. I said that sometime I feel Ms. Van Houten should be paroled, but I don't think today is the day", 1981. And then he goes on and says in "82" again, "This is not to say at some future time I wouldn't concur on a parole date. Time is the important factor in her case"

      -  Stephen Kay's words being read back by Leslie's attorney at her 2013 Parole Hearing ( Thanks Cielodrive)

Today I take a closer look at the Prison life, and the chances for release, of Leslie Van Houten.  I will try to put together a fair, complete picture of her time behind bars and her suitability for parole. Frankly, I feel there is no chance that the Governor gives her a pass after denying Bruce several times, and shutting down Susan Atkins- who couldn't even lift her head up or stay awake, during her compassionate release hearing. But, in a political year like this, and with pressure on the prison systems to recede the current levels- ya just never know. Besides, the purpose of this post is to decide what is fair versus what is right- not what is going to happen. Don't we all know those aren't always the same things?  Also, Some of you will be relieved to know that I am not going to mention the commitment offense in any detail at all. I am just going to focus on Leslie's time after she was incarcerated, and what has transpired since. Everyone who has read my comments and posts understands how I feel about the crimes, and the behavior those who committed them demonstrated immediately after. It was unforgivable to me. But the United States Justice and Prison Systems guidelines are not up to me. There are rules, and a process. For the purpose of this excersize we are going to take a look at the facts only of her prison record. I will eliminate the Manson mystique from the realities of our system, and simply review how Leslie has navigated it. I just want to try and answer one simple question. Does LULU deserve to walk?

I once wrote a post asking people to consider the value of life along with the value of a life sentence.  My mind never wanders far from the Labiancas. Justice belongs to them. Nothing LULU has gone through, or suffered is anything at all compared to what she contributed to causing them. I am not going to look at this as if Leslie is "owed" anything. I simply ask:  has she paid her dues to society and is she worthy of release based on our system, and her record? That is what I am trying to determine today.

First a few words about Karlene Faith's book for those of you smart enough to not have wasted the time or money. This book was written from a very strong feminist viewpoint. It is heavily slanted to putting a lot of blame on men, and Charlie in particular. He is referred to as a GURU often. Faith herself, and a couple of others she quotes, use the term " brainwashing" to explain what happened to LULU repeatedly. She goes into great detail about the times Leslie grew up in and how she was "over-socialized to be only feminine". Faith also goes into boring detail about how eastern philosophies were very common and why many young women sought out others for inspiration, indicating in no way was Leslie different from thousands of other girls her age. In other words, she makes excuses for all the wacky shit LULU was into by saying it was "The Times". However, I am quite sure that not every young teenager got pregnant at such a young age, nor replied to swingers ad's. Lulu had a wild streak in her always, but that stuff gets glossed over. By the way. All these years Leslie and her supporters keep trying to paint this picture of the wild and crazy times LULU grew up in as if she had no choice but to turn to drugs and sex. Listen what Lois Smaldino ( Rosemary and Leno's oldest nephew) said about that: ( excerpt from 2013 Parole Hearing transcript I borrowed from

" I grew up in the same area within 3 miles. I was- I lived in Arcadia, while she lived in, ya know, Monrovia, at about the same time. I had just gotten married and started having my family while all this was going on. And I had a sister about the same age. And I just- You know that program on TV called Happy Days? That is what it was like living in that area. We used to go to Gwen's drive- in, you know and go to the drive-in movies, play sports, and it was nothing like what is being described here this drug and pot culture. Maybe later in the 70's, but at that point in time that just was not the environment in that community".

Karlene is a strong advocate who repeats throughout this book what a terrific person Leslie is who just made one bad mistake. This is exactly the argument I would make for someone who got drunk and killed someone in a DUI, or a teenager who was playing a joke or prank that went terribly wrong. It just doesn't work for me in the case of a person who offers to go kill someone, and then laughs about it after. There are probably more deserving people of Karlene's passion.

But like the Blues Travelers sing, "There is just no accounting for some peoples taste".

 Faith taught in a couple of Prisons before getting to meet LULU at California Institute For Woman, and she had some hesitation at first. She reached out to a peer and eventually they decided LULU was this incredible person who was just the victim of bad circumstances, times, and people. As for the murders- that was all Charlies fault. She feels, and expresses, tremendous sympathy to all of the girls for getting caught up in Charlies web. She is absolutely convinced Charlie brainwashed them all and ordered the murders. The rest of the book is really a celebration of how Leslie was able to "Break herself Free" of Charlie's hold over her.  She gives all the required details about LULU's prison record, and I will cover those specifics later. She has great reasons for the one or two slip-ups LULU has made, but in fairness, there have only been a couple. Actually, Leslie really did an amazing job of staying clear of any trouble and taking advantage of multiple programs and educational opportunities. It is commendable how well she adjusted and adapted. Faith really pays lip service to the victims families in an obligatory sort of manner. Frankly, however, she really spends 3/4 of the book trying to minimize Leslie's responsibility for her, while pointing out how much responsibility Leslie tries to take at the same time. She really tries to have it both ways. She is a very smart lady too. If you are looking for an argument to support Leslie, this is the most reasoned and well thought out I have ever seen. But its just too much fluff. She just never stops pouring on what a strong, brave, person Leslie is. How determined and resilient she is, as if Leslie has actually been a long suffering victim herself.  I am just not so sure that's an appropriate place to go in Leslie's situation.  The one or two interesting tidbits about this book were early. It was interesting to see how there was no death row for woman at the time, so they had to build one. The interaction between the three of them was something I always wondered about. LULU and Katie stuck close and Susan was considered the snitch. That is another thing- LULU starting talking almost about the same time Susan did, but LULU never took any heat for snitching? Anyway, you do learn in this book that Katie was the last one to let go of Charlie. She still had his pictures up into the early 70's. Also after the Hawthorne Shoot-out, Mary and Gypsy were both put in the special unit with the other 3, so for a few of the years Susan, LULU, and Katie were coming off the Charlie trip- they had these two living with them who were still deep into it. Apparently tired of listening to Gypsy at one point, Leslie told Patt- "I am not into this anymore. I have changed." That was sort of an interesting dynamic. She predictably brags about what an amazing person LULU was while out on bail between trials and gives a nice description of Leslie at the ocean with the wind in her face. She brags about a time  when (with the help of the guards who all loved them) she snuck Banana Splits into the Girls. The Bill Cywin incident is blown off with one paragraph boiling down - not to bad judgement- but a simple need for sex. ( Like we have no idea of the bad judgement people can show due to the simple need for sex lol) The book is for the most part, an attempt to make Leslie sound like a person who really was a terrible victim in many ways. It was not fair or impartial by any means. It was a LULU character remake job and she fought really hard to give you an educated, reasonable argument as to why Leslie should be forgiven, and understood. Friends for Leslie Van Houten were at their peak when this book was written, so she spends some time gloating about that as well. Karlene Faith has written many books on woman and their incarceration. She is also a leading feminist. In my opinion- in her eyes- the woman is never wrong no matter what. The system and the dominate male culture are the blame for anything any of these woman do. She is also a scholar and very bright woman who knows much more about the subject than me. I am just saying- you walk away from reading this feeling like it is as much a sales job promoting LULU as it is a fair assessment of her suitability to be free. Faith argues almost equally that Leslie has earned her freedom, and that it was really not even her fault in the first place. Also, many years have passed since this book was written. The story was being told while still fluid. Add another 15 years, or so, to the legitimate arguments Faith made, as far as the "matrix" for similar crimes, and excellent record and reviews Leslie kept getting. That is where the Leslie argument picks up steam in my opinion...

"I have a really good friend who was convicted of killing two people when she was 19 years old on a horrible night of 1969 cult madness. Her name is Leslie Van Houten and I think you would like her much as I do. She was one of those notorious "Manson Girls" who shaved their heads, carved x's into their foreheads, and laughed, joked and sang their way through the courthouse straight to death row without the slightest trace of remorse 40 years ago. Leslie is hardly a "Manson Girl" today. Sixty years old, she looks back on her involvement at the Labianca murders, in utter horror, shame and guilt, and takes full responsibility for her crimes. I think its time to parole her".

       - John Waters

March 29, 1071- Leslie convicted of murder and sentenced to Death. At the time the youngest woman ever condemned to death row in California. No Death row for woman exists so one is built at CIW.

1972- California Supreme Court People Versus Anderson abolishes Death penalty. Leslie's sentence commuted to Life in Prison which makes her eligible for parole after 7 years.

1974- Helter Skelter is published and author Vincent Bugliosi writes he expects all 3 girls to be released after 15 to 20 years.

1977- Leslie granted a retrial due to the failure to declare mistrial when her attorney died. Jury cannot agree on verdict. This leads to mistrial.

March 78- third trial ( allowed out on bond for several months prior to and during trial) Convicted and sentenced to life with possibility of parole -which the prosecutor in that trial said she would one day be suitable for...

And that my friends is where the Circus starts. The parole hearings begin. Throughout the coming years Leslie would be piling up considerable accomplishments behind bars. Concurrently, there would be a long series of parole hearings first behind the scenes, and then in front of cameras, which would play out over the course of the next 30 years. And this is where we get to meet three people who will play a MAJOR role in the Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten.

Doris Tate, Stephen Kay, and Bill Nelson. Or, As I like to call them: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly....

 Now I would bet you that when LULU was giggling her way through the first trial, she had no idea that these three people even existed. But, they would end up being maybe the most influential people in her adult life. First of all, Doris found out about these "Friends of Leslie Van Houten" who were gathering signatures for her parole hearings one particular time when it seemed Leslie was very close. So,  Doris raised thousands of signatures against the release to match the hundred or so LULU had for her release. Doris helped push prop 8 through which allowed for the victims impact statements. This has allowed family members through the years to keep the pain real for the parole board. Leslie now had a group of people to make the board feel sympathy no matter how much time passed. Also- no more sex in the clink thanks to Doris. Lulu had been taking advantage of that before it was stopped. Secondarily, Stephen Kay would be the representative from the DA's office at the majority of Leslie's hearings as well as the prosecutor who tried her in the second and third trials after Bug's retired. Kay would not accept a reasonable plea. Instead, he attached the bogus robbery charge which has caused Leslie to stay in much longer than she may have otherwise. She, and the rest of the family, would come to detest this man. Although they say at the beginning of each parole hearing that they are going to accept the findings of the court and are not going to retry the case, Kay consistently recreates the facts and details to maximize the participation of each person whose hearing he is attending. He has flat out lied a couple of times at these hearings. Finally, Bill Nelson. He brought the cameras and media. Now the heat was back on. no more waiting for the years to slowly pass until it becomes an afterthought. Now the spotlight is back on those "Crazy Manson People". Lulu actually walked out of her 1990 parole hearing to protest his presence. She doesn't get many shots, so to forfeit one was a huge sacrifice in my opinion. Before it became obvious he was as much of a nut-job  as some of the Family members, Nelson had an alliance with Doris for a time. Leslie had to see the door which was once slowly opening, was starting to move back in the other direction once these three came into the picture. If you read all of the parole hearing transcripts over the years, you will see that LULU was actually getting really close, for a time, to being paroled. In one hearing almost 20 years ago, she was given her smallest ever denial- one year. The Parole Board told her to take it as a sign that she was getting close and to reward her for her for good behavior. Then she goes another 20 years without any problems or issues, and the denials start getting longer. At one, fairly recent hearing not too long ago- she got the same 5 year denial as Tex? I say the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly had a lot to do with this. If you read or study the parole hearings you will see something very clearly. Things were going Leslie's way. Then this Triumvirate came upon the scene and things took a momentum of their own. It became like a wave that just keeps going and growing, and at some point, Leslie must have realized there was nothing she could do to stop it. Imagine you are getting one year denials and being told how close you are, and then after many more years of no issues- your denials start getting longer...

So then she sued. Leslie and Bruce tried to use the very court system they once laughed at to get relief. I assume you all know how that went. And its hard to make the " I am so very sorry and sincerely have  come to understand the pain I caused others over time," along with the, "I am a political prisoner, this is BS- I should have been out of here years ago" arguments at the same time. Smart people pick up this contradiction. I would bet you 12 Coors-lights that has something to do with how they can keep making the "Still doesn't completely understand the impact she has had on the victims or their families" charge when they deny her. As long as your still complaining about the way you have been treated, how have you been focused on the impact you had on others? Just saying...

Anyway, Back to Leslie's record:

Leslie has been in jail for 46 years and up for parole 20 times.

In all those years she has no 115's (disciplinary write-up's) , and only one 128a from 1981 for talking to a person in detention which was not permitted. She did have the incident with Cywin. He was a fellow inmate who she started communicating with. When he got out they were briefly married. during this time, he was found to be plotting an escape for her. She was found to have had no knowledge or participation with this botched plot. After her last hearing, in which she was granted parole the commissioner of the board told her, " Your behavior in prison speaks for itself. 46 years, and not a single serious rules violation."

Leslie has multiple chronos in her central file for both participating in and serving in leadership roles in; Alcoholics/Narcotics anonymous, Emotions anonymous, Restorative justice, Victims Impact, and Choice Theory courses and programs- among many others.

Leslie has earned her Bachelors in English lit in 1982, and her Masters in Humanities in 2012.             ( which means LULU is more educated than me lol)

Lulu currently has a classification score of 19 which is the lowest allowable for a person with her commitment offense. she has been at that classification for over 20 years.

Lulu has consistently received the highest ratings and reviews in all of her work assignments, and has been placed in positions to Tudor and mentor on more than a few occasions.

On LULU's Psych evaluations for over 25 years she has rated in the very low range compared to other female offenders and placed in the lowest range for violent recidivism.

In her 2010 Psych report the Doctor noted that since the early 70's there is a general consensus among evaluators that Ms. Van Houten does not meet the criteria for axis I or II diagnosis.  This basically means she is not retarded, schizophrenic, suffering from depression, or mentally slow in any way.

The Doctor notes the unanimous consensus she is in the very low to low range to recidivate. in her 2002, and 2004 report both Doctors conclude she would not be dangerous if released into the community. in 1996, 1998, and 1999 her Psych evaluation was prepared by a Dr, McDaniel who found she had developed high insight into her life and drug issues, he notes expressions of remorse and empathy for the victims, he found if released indicators suggest she would comply with the rules of society, and he notes decreased violence potential. There are years of positive reports such as these in Leslie's Central File. A few are even more strongly worded than above in her favor. But I don't feel like looking through any more old information about how great Leslie is.

Look lol I am just not going to go after defending LULU with the same vigor I normally have when trying to make an argument for another subject I feel strongly about. I just do not have the same passion.  This is the very best I can do. Leslie was an exemplary prisoner. It is almost impossible to understand how a young woman of her age could have done more over the years to impress people that she had changed. This ding dong eventually got it. I am just not sure that when she finally understood she was wrong, she felt more sorry for herself and what she got caught up in, than she did for the person she helped to kill. That is a problem for me. Yes, she has accumulated an immaculate record all these years. I will absolutely give her that.

" I feel that when I was young and I was given a second chance in life, that I took advantage of all the things that the prison system offered to come to terms with what happened, to gain awareness of it, to certainly carry my responsibility for what I have done. I understand there are people will always feel that I should never be granted my freedom, and I respect that with the Labianca family, and I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart for the pain I have caused your family, and that will come for generations to come that you have this cloud over you, and I apologize for that."

      - Leslie Van Houten closing statement 2006 Parole Hearing. ( Thanks again Cielodrive)

So, now we must weigh this information and decide whats right. Based on the best information I could find (maybe some of our lawyers can help me here)  the average time served for a person who is sentenced to crimes similar to the circumstances such as Leslie's is about 16 to 25 years. In one of her parole hearings her attorney says according to how the California Parole "Matrix" works she would fall into the 13 to 15 year range based on the factors ("If you look at your rules for an ISL date its 13 to 15 years subject to adjustment for no prior convictions, and no adjustments for multiple offenses.") These estimates are similar enough to give you the general idea that LULU has done way more time than the average mamajamoke.

Here is an exchange between Leslie and Her Parole Board. In 1979. (37 years ago):

Board: "And in looking at these barbaric deeds, you know done for the most illegal reasons, coupled with the uncertainty of your ability to sustain your rehabilitative gains over a period of time, the panel feels it must observe you longer. And we must have more time before we can project a date.

Leslie: "I understand, but will you observe me? I mean is there hope at some time?"

Board: : "Yes" 

Leslie: " OK. That's all I need to know.:

The person whom Leslie was speaking with was Ruth Rush, the Chariman of that particular board. Ruth would go on to become Chairman of the Department of Corrections. If I took away LULU's name and put Jane Doe on her prison resume, we are probably not having this conversation at all. Steve Grogan is an interesting comparison to me.  Is there any reason to believe that Clem, thought to be almost retarded by most everyone on both sides who knew him, was more of a threat as a fairly large middle aged man, than Leslie would be as a wrinkled old woman? Was Clem's crime less heinous than Leslie's? These are the kinds of questions, my mind wrestles with when trying to sort this all out. If you let me go into the facts of her commitment offense, and her behavior during the trial, I can make the best argument you ever heard that LULU should die in jail. But if I keep my promise and just go on her record, post incarceration,  its hard to make any other conclusion than it is time to let her go home. LULU, however, cannot change her name to Jane Doe, and although I wont bring up details of her commitment offense in this post- You can bet that Deb Tate and Company will make sure to keep the Governor aware of exactly who Leslie is and exactly what Leslie did. She is a victim alright, just like Karlene said. But not for the reasons Karlene gave. She is not a victim of Charlie, or the times. It was her own bizarre behavior. Leslie is trapped by a phenomena. She is forever linked to that little 19 year old with the X carved into her head. The Government only gets a few chances to send a message that everyone will hear loud and clear. "The Manson Family" is an easy call for a politician. And although that is not fair, it is not going to change. Leslie had the knowledge and notice that the others didn't about what she was going to get involved in. She asked to participate anyway. It is hard for me to feel sorry for her when it comes to other people saying what she has been through "isn't fair"

At the end of the day, if you ask me what my personal feeling is about her suitability I have to say she has earned her release under the current guidelines. I think she has proven she is suitable for parole. She has earned to right to go home.

I am just glad it is not me who has to make this decision. I feel that I would feel pressure to make a different choice, which would come from my heart, than what I know is the right one in my head.The right decision versus a fair decision. I am not sure in this case they are the same thing. I think its one thing to make the right decision based on rules, and law, and another to make one based on "Fairness". Let me say a few words about fairness. Its one thing for your or I to talk about fairness. It is another thing for Leslie to do it. There are many people out there who write and comment about how unfair this is to Leslie. Some will say she should have been let go years ago. Certainly, her record supports that. For sure, other people who have done similar have gotten out sooner. I am totally in agreement that Leslie has been treated differently. Lets be careful about Fair. I promised not to bring up details of her crime, so lets just say it was a very different type of crime. I just am not sure I want to hear Leslie use the term unfair. Fair depends on who you ask. I don't focus on Leslie when I consider it. I focus on Rosemary. A strong, hard working, self- made, proud woman. Her life was ended in her own home in her prime. We don't have to relive the details. That is enough information for me to decide that if there is any argument that Leslie should be making to win her freedom- it is about her record, accomplishments, and achievements post- incarceration. It should be about her remorse, and her changes in beliefs and values.

The last thing on Earth Leslie Van Houten should ever complain about in her life is what is fair. Rosemary had a right to live her life and she died, and Leslie was originally sentenced to die for causing that and she lived. So, I think Leslie did alright overall in the big picture when it comes to fairness.

And if you are on the Labiancas side of this- Fairness is the last thing on Earth you want to here. How do you decide whats fair when two sides of this look at your decision in two totally different ways so extremely? If you are among those who cheers for Leslie's release, I advise you to pray the Governor does what is right under the law and not tries to decide what is fair. Fair can be a slippery slope in situations like this. Is your priority to be fair to those who harm others or those who have been harmed? Cause one is going to think you were not fair no matter what you decide.

46 years behind bars. What a long Strange Trip its been....

So, there you go. I kept my promise. I did not go into any details about the crime. I did not try to arouse any emotions with the same old gory details. You can all view the Leslie prison record for itself and form your own opinion. As for me, I can't forget the details of the crime ever. I would not be here participating in this if I could. I think Lulu deserves to be granted her date and I will not protest or complain if she is, but I hope she is not, and don't believe she will be. I am aware that is a contradiction, but it is my honest feeling from the bottom of my Heart.

I don't know if that is right. But, I hope that it is- and that this post was- Fair....

                                                    - Your favorite Saint


I will not re-post the whole thing but here are the highlights:

The question I must answer is whether Van Houten will pose a current danger to the public if released from prison. The circumstances of the crime can provide evidence of current dangerousness when the record also establishes that something in the inmate’s pre- or post- incarceration history, or the inmate’s current demeanor and mental state, indicate that the circumstances of the crime remain probative of current dangerousness. (In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1181, 1214.) In rare circumstances, the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness. (Id. at pp. 1211, 1214.)

THIS bold highlighted part above is the answer to all of you who make the matrix or time served argument :)

The Board of Parole Hearings found Van Houten suitable for parole based on her age at the time of the crime, length of incarceration, lack of violent crime as an adult, educational and vocational accomplishments, self-help programming, lack of disciplinary history, credibility, detailed relapse prevention plan, “tremendous” level of insight, acceptance of responsibility, remorse, consistent risk assessments placing her at a minimal risk of violence, and parole plans. Van Houten was only 19 years old when she perpetrated these heinous murders. Accordingly, I must give great weight to her “diminished culpability… as compared to adults,” “hallmark features of youth,” and “subsequent growth and increased maturity.” (Pen. Code, § 4801, subd. (c).) The record reveals that prior to joining the Manson Family, Van Houten led a “privileged” life. She reported being raised “comfortably” in the middle class by her father, an automobile auctioneer, and her mother, a homemaker. She sang in the choir at her Presbyterian church, went to the youth fellowship, and enjoyed church camp every summer. In high school, several classmates described Van Houten as “popular.” She was homecoming princess twice, class secretary, and a participant in Campfire Girls and Job’s Daughters. She was tested and found to have “a superior I.Q. in the top five percent of the United States.” She also began to experience some instability in her life following her parents’ divorce when she was 14. She reported that her parents’ relationship was “mismatched” and her mother “married down” and was “embarrassed” by her father’s drinking. Following the divorce, Van Houten indicated that she felt abandoned by her father and angry with her mother. She rebelled by using drugs and had a self-induced abortion sometime during the second trimester of her pregnancy at age 17. However, even after this, she was able to graduate from high school. She attended a business college for a year and became a certified legal secretary. Shortly after receiving her certification, Van Houten went to San Francisco where she met fellow Family members, Bobby Beausoleil and Catherine Share. She traveled throughout the state with them before ultimately moving to Spahn Ranch. She lived on the Ranch for nearly a year before the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Van Houten has now been incarcerated for 46 years. She is 66 years old and has made efforts to improve herself The psychologist who evaluated her in 2016 noted that during Van Houten’s imprisonment, she has “developed greater maturity, independence, and responsibility” and has “led a pro-social lifestyle.” She has never been disciplined for serious misconduct during her incarceration. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has received exceptional work ratings as a tutor for the past decade. She also received positive commendations from staff She has participated in numerous self-help programs including Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Victim Offender Education Group, and Emotions Anonymous. I carefully examined the record for evidence of her diminished culpability and youthful characteristics at the time of the crime, and her subsequent growth in prison. I gave these considerations great weight when assessing her suitability for parole. However, they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate she remains unsuitable for parole.

 It remains unclear how and why Van Houten drastically transformed from an exceptionally smart, driven young woman, class secretary and homecoming princess, to a member of one of the most notorious cults in history and an eager participant in the cold-blooded and gory murder of innocent victims aiming to provoke an all-out race war. Both her role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unreasonable risk to society if released.

I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Van Houten is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Van Houten.

Decision Date: July 22, 2016
Governor, State of California

I leave you all with this:

 “Ladies who play with fire must remember that smoke gets in their eyes.”

         - Mae West

 “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” 

        - Benjamin Franklin