Former Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Once Again Denied Parole

Illustration for article titled Former Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Once Again Denied Parole
Photo: Stan Lim/Los Angeles Daily News (AP)

Leslie Van Houten, who was 19 at the time of the murders she was convicted for committing, has been denied parole by a governor yet again—this is the fourth time in as many years for the now 71-year-old Van Houten.


She had been recommended in January by the California parole board, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom denied her Saturday. Newsom wrote that Van Houten currently poses “an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison” at this time. As if to complement the temporal loop vibe of Van Houten being recommended for parole and then having it denied by a governor, Newsom’s language there was identical to that of former Gov. Jerry Brown when he denied Van Houten in 2017. He too claimed Van Houten posed an “an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

“Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings,” Newsom also wrote.

According to Newsom, before Van Houten can be safely released, she “must do more to develop her understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from such a negative, violent influence, and perpetrate extreme acts of wanton violence.”

According to Fresno’s ABC30, Van Houten’s lawyer said she intends to appeal the decision. “This reversal will demonstrate to the courts that there is no way Newsom will let her out,’’ attorney Rich Pfeiffer said. “So they have to enforce the law or it will never be enforced.’’

Van Houten had been sentenced to death before the death penalty was overturned in California. She now serves a life sentence. Van Houten stabbed Rosemary LaBianca on August 9-10, 1969, the night after the murders of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent.

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.



I don’t know what California parole boards are like, but parole boards in general are pretty strict about ever recommending parole. Parole is just not something that is granted cavalierly. So my guess is that this is not about a person who was locked up in her 20s, for a murder she committed when she was 19, and who is now well past the age of retirement, still representing a similar danger to society as she did when she committed her crime decades ago. This is not about a parole board getting it wrong.  My guess is this is about governors who don’t want “[BROWN/NEWSOM] RELEASES MEMBER OF MANSON FAMILY WHO COMMITTED BRUTAL MURDER” as a headline. Which is fine, I guess, but let’s just be honest about.