The governor of California once again denied parole for Leslie Van Houten. Brown acknowledged that Van Houten’s youth at the time of the crime, her more than four decades as a model prisoner and her abuse at the hands of Manson make it worth considering her release. She has been found suitable for parole twice.
Leslie Van Houten is now 68 years old, and has served almost 50 years in prison. During her incarceration, Van Houten has demonstrated remorse and she is living proof that redemption is possible even for those whose crimes are deemed unforgivable.
Linda Deutsch a noted journalist, has spent time with Leslie and has stated publicly, “I feel compelled to speak out — not regarding Van Houten’s culpability, which not even she denies, but on the fairness of keeping her behind bars this long. I believe she is being punished because she was associated with Manson, whose toxic name clings like poison to those who followed him. Judged independently, she likely would have been released years ago.”
At issue is whether a person who earns her release through hard work over many years should be treated differently because her case was in the headlines.
It is ridiculous for Brown to claim again that Leslie Van Houten remains a danger to society. Upon release, she will live in a setting where she can help other women transition out of custody. She also will stand as a symbol of hope for other inmates that if they obey the rules and work hard enough to transform themselves, anything is possible.
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