Home>Articles>Will Gov. Gavin Newsom Grant Parole to Manson Family Killer Leslie Van Houten?

Leslie Van Houten, Patrice Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins, Manson family members. (Photo: Pinterest)

Will Gov. Gavin Newsom Grant Parole to Manson Family Killer Leslie Van Houten?

California Parole Board recommended Van Houten be paroled

By Evan Gahr, July 29, 2020 3:14 pm

The fate of one of murderous cult leader Charles Manson’s accomplices rests in the hands of Governor Gavin Newsom.

The California Parole Board last week recommended that Leslie Van Houten be paroled, but the decision about whether to spring her from the big house will be made by Newsom.

He has already nixed her approved release once and Jerry Brown did it twice when he was governor.

Charles Manson. (Photo: Amazon.com)

Newsom spokeswoman Vicky Waters was non-committal in a statement: “As with any parole suitability recommendation, when the case reaches the governor’s office, it will be carefully reviewed on its merits.”

Rich Pfeiffer, Van Houten’s lawyer, told the California Globe that given her notoriety and the enmity she still elicits–including an online petition with 171,000 signatories demanding she stay imprisoned–he doubted that Newsom would sign off on her release. “No governor is going to want his name on something like that.”

He said his client was “was very nervous going into the hearing, but she responded very well to all the questions” and that she “and her friends and family remain hopeful that she will be released.”

“We all think we are getting closer and closer to release,” he added.

Van Houten is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and other cult members kill a Los Angeles couple, Leno and Rosemary Labanca in 1969.  They stabbed them and smeared their blood in the wall and cut up Rosemary’s body.

This May an appeals court rejected Pfeiffer’s motion to have Van Houten, 70, related because her age put her at particular risk for covid infection.

When he rejected the parole board’s recommendation for release in 2017 then-Governor Jerry Brown said that Van Houten was still dangerous and that she posed an “unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

Leslie Van Houten, Manson Family murderer. (Photo: Amazon.com)

In reversing the parole board’s decision last year Gavin Newsom said much the same thing. “I find the evidence as a whole shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.”

Apparently both these liberals thought it was too judgmental to just say she deserved to stay in prison because of her heinous deeds.

The present danger argument offered up by Newsom and Brown sounds like a pretext.

When the parole board grants release it is based in part on a determination that the prisoner is no longer a threat to society.

Pfeiffer, said that in 50 years in prison Van Houton never had a “write-up” for bad behavior and that she has been working with rehabilitative programs for other prisoners. “More than 20 prison psychologists” who have examined her over 50 years said she is no longer dangerous, he noted.

Pfeiffer, who is not getting paid to represent Van Houton and is a former drug addict who has done time in the slammer himself, said California law is clear that if parole is approved and a prisoner “is not a current risk to public safety” he or she “shall be released.”

He said the parole board proceeding could be used to challenge Newsom’s expected denial in court. “I’m very optimistic about the results of the hearing going towards relief.”

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24 thoughts on “Will Gov. Gavin Newsom Grant Parole to Manson Family Killer Leslie Van Houten?

  1. Well George Orwell,
    I am going to take your statement as doublespeak in this day and age and translate it to mean, no never, she should rot in jail for the murders she helped commit.

    Forget 1984, it is 2020!😉😅

  2. I remember the murders, I was 14 years old. In the 70’s I read the book “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi the LA Deputy DA that prosecuted the Mansion family. The book detailed the murders in horrific detail. How ANYONE could consider granting freedom to any of this scum is beyond my rational imagination. ALL OF THESE FAMILY MEMBERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXECUTED IN THE GAS CHAMBER. If Newsom has any, any decency at all he will let this bitch rot in prison.

      1. oh you are so right. I’m a Progressive and from my experience of living in the city where Newsom was Mayor, he’s a political opportunist and supports some good ideals. He’s for development though and doesn’t really give a darn (as no San Francisco politician) about homelessness, lack of housing for just regular people, or has much empathy for the concerns of the elderly. THIS I know for sure.

        1. I’m in the minority for sure……

          She’s done over 50 years in prison. What purpose does it serve to the government and to the relatives at this point? She’s definitely NOT going to murder someone else after release.
          She was like 18 or 19 when those crimes were committed. That’s forever ago.
          Let her go…..

    1. If you did any research at all before spouting off at the mouth you would know helter skelter is 90% lies and the trail was rigged and unfair!! Regardless what you or I think not releasing her means that the law means nothing!! If that’s the case then we are ALL in trouble!! She’s done her time!! She’s a political prisoner. That in itself is very sad. She is not a danger and in or out she will live with what she’s done forever. How dare you or I judge her. Neither of us have ever been in her shoes. This world discust me!!

  3. Since she was ordered, by the People of the state of California, to die in the gas chamber, she should die in prison; since she lucked out of being executed.

  4. She was sentenced to life WITH the possibility of parole. That’s what the DA thought was appropriate. She was 19 years old, the youngest one in the “family”. She participated in a brutal and senseless act that claimed the lives of two innocent people.
    How did a homecoming queen do something so cold hearted? Her mom and dad split up. Maybe she missed her dad, but back then mothers got custody. She rebelled, and ran away to Height Ashbury. Big deal, I agree. Everyone has a sob story. She took drugs, got pregnant, and returned to her mother to find support and assistance. Instead of comfort she was traumatized when her mother made her abort her unborn baby. A baby far enough along in development that her mom felt “abortion” was the wrong term. She punished Leslie by making her dig a grave in their backyard and burying it.
    I’m not surprised she ran off in search of another family. Unfortunately she was found by people looking to enlarge a criminal patriarchy, the Manson cult. She was 19, dosed with astronomically high levels of LSD and under the spell of a psychopathic pseudo-father.
    After enough time away from the others, she apparently cooperated freely with prosecutors who were convinced she could be rehabilitated and therefore didn’t seek life without parole. She didn’t cause any life ending injuries, those were administered by Tex Watson, a truly evil man, but did stab Rosemary La Bianca over a dozen times in the lower back and buttocks., most post mortem. I don’t intend to diminish the horror of those innocent people’s pain and terror. It’s nightmarish.
    Manson was a manipulative genius and she, the youngest of a group that all freely drank of the psycho Kool-Aid he was serving. How well would you do, retaining your independent thought in that environment? If you were sent to prison, would you have dedicated your life to helping other people better themselves? Earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees? Serve fifty years without a single disciplinary writeup?
    And if you firmly believe a 70 year old woman who has done nothing but atone for her horrible actions when she was a teenager should never be shown mercy and deserves to suffer until her death…you should wonder why YOU are such a cold hearted monster. She’s ashamed of what she did but you seem proud of your ruthlessness. I’d prefer her as a neighbor any day.

      1. I don’t remember anyone ever recommending Richard Speck for parole… And you’re comparing apples to oranges anyway. Yes, they were both convicted of murder but if you really don’t see any difference between Van Houten and Speck then you’re not worth arguing with, and I LOVE to argue. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other regarding her parole but I’m commenting anyway. That should tell you something about the quality of your logic.

        1. MyGally If you have not read “Helter Skelter” written by the deputy da that prosecuted Mansion and his family I highly recommend that you read it. In it is detailed accounts on how Mansion’s “family members” murdered their victims in particular the murder of Rosemary LaBianca where Leslie Van Houten held her while Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson took turns stabbing her. Van Houten also stabbed LaBianca after them. The victims of Mansion’s family were butchered.

    1. I rarely see truthful comments about Leslie. This is a very good summary of her life. Bottom line is many people have been paroled who did far worse crimes, and less time in prison. Our system needs to be fair. Trained people sit on the parole board, and take their jobs very seriously and leave politics out. Time to let Leslie Van Houten out.

    2. Amen. Great observance. At 70 her life is over anyway. She was an unbalanced CHILD when this happened. Let her die in peace on the outside. If she would have been the daughter of a judge, prosecutor, or a cop she would have done 5 years in a mental ward and released. The law is a joke and the sentence is determined on who you know and who you are. Governor Newsome by denying parole is still feeding into this corrupt institution called American law and doesn’t have the backbone to do the right thing and is willing to allow a person to remain imprisoned that has more than paid for a mistake of a CHILD not in her right mind to advance his political career. Shame on this coward and the public should show their disdain by voting this coward out of office. The strong show mercy and understanding, the weak show a mind not capable of facing a dispute and cower to stand on their own two feet.

  5. Even if she directly is no threat it doesn’t mean that who and what she did won’t influence other people who are capable of the same murderous actions that she was at that point in her life, she needs to stay in prison..

    1. I totally agree.i think the people who want her paroled have no idea about her.after watching many parole hearings& a lot of manson videos. I actually think she could be the craziest out of all of them.stay in prison until you die.people are worried that she’s a threat.i just dont believe she’s paid her dues yet.

  6. Never get released, the other members have be approved for parole 7 times with the sitting state governors denying it at the last minute. Just cause you have the boxes check for parole doesn’t mean you actually get out. Releasing them would ruin your political career.

  7. I was incarcerated with Leslie and she is not the person society claims her to be. Shes highly educated and very Rehabilitated and in my eyes dont pose a threat to anyone. I feel being incarcerated for 51 years has met her debt paid to society everyone deserves a second chance for mistakes that were made when she was very young individual…Whether or not Gov. Newson Grant’s her parole I feel shes one inmate who deserves it . My opinion and I’m sticking to it please by all means dont pass judgement on her it’s not your place.Thank You…Free Leslie Come Home Sister…

  8. If you did any research at all before spouting off at the mouth you would know helter skelter is 90% lies and the trail was rigged and unfair!! Regardless what you or I think not releasing her means that the law means nothing!! If that’s the case then we are ALL in trouble!! She’s done her time!! She’s a political prisoner. That in itself is very sad. She is not a danger and in or out she will live with what she’s done forever. How dare you or I judge her. Neither of us have ever been in her shoes. This world discust me!!

  9. I’m in the minority for sure……

    She’s done over 50 years in prison. What purpose does it serve to the government and to the relatives at this point? She’s definitely NOT going to murder someone else after release.
    She was like 18 or 19 when those crimes were committed. That’s forever ago.
    Let her go…..

  10. Leslie Van Houten is exactly where she deserves to be. If she was truly remorseful she would accept that fact. There is nothing she can say, do, or change that will convince the vast majority of society that she deserves freedom. I can’t imagine how painful these parole hearings are for the family members of the victims. If Leslie had a modicum of decency she would be stop all bids for freedom and quietly fade away in prison, never to be heard from again.
    My thoughts, love and strength go out to the victims families as they await Gov. Newsom’s decision.

  11. A terrible crime. No one argues it. Not even Leslie Van Houten. And while she was sentenced to death, that sentence was overturned and she received a new trial. When finally convicted, and after spending months out of jail on parole where she held down a job, she was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 7 years. She had already served 8 years. And now she’s spent 50 years in prison as a model prisoner.

    Most people who argue that she should not be released seem to have the same base beliefs – 1) no one who commits a heinous murder should ever be released, 2) parole boards, whose job it is to determine whether or not someone should be paroled and have recommended multiple times she be paroled, don’t really know what they’re doing and the people opposed to parole are better equipped to make that decision, and 3) a politician who is not skilled in determining eligibility for parole and has significant political upside to keeping someone in prison, should be allowed to override the decision of parole boards.

    I don’t know that I disagree on the first point. But it’s not the way our society works. She should be given them same fair shake as every other prisoner. On the second point, parole boards are hired to make these determinations. Let them, or remove them if they aren’t doing good work. And finally, the idea that a governor, (or president), has the right to pardon or deny a pardon is absurd. Politicians make almost every decision by weighing how it will affect the next election. This is a prime example. She’s 70. She’s done her time. I don’t think I would have a concern in the world if a 70 yr old woman who has led an exemplary life for the last 50 years moved in next door. Also, if she did try something, I think I could take her.

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