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Former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten has earned parole

By in Press Enterprise on November 17, 2017

By Sal Rodriguez

On Sept. 6, for the second year in a row, parole commissioners recommended parole for 68-year-old Leslie Van Houten, who participated in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in the summer of 1969.

Van Houten, who was 19 at the time, stabbed Rosemary more than a dozen times after fellow Charles Manson-follower Charles “Tex” Watson killed Leno and stabbed Rosemary.

Given the notoriety of Van Houten’s crime, the decision of the commissioners has understandably drawn backlash from those who believe no member of the Manson family should ever be released, including members of the LaBianca family.

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The decision is now going through a 120-day review period before going to Gov. Brown for final determination. Brown overturned last year’s recommendation based on his belief that “she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released.”

While Brown might just end up repeating himself after the latest recommendation, Van Houten’s case raises important questions about the value of rehabilitation and the purpose of the criminal justice system.

As both parole boards concluded, Van Houten has exhibited a record of “growth and maturity” since committing her crimes, exemplified by her clear articulation of remorse and responsibility for her crimes and her consistent participation in rehabilitative programming.

Far from the drug-addled, impulsive teenager of half a century ago, […]    

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