Leslie Van Houten is seeking parole for the 21st time since her conviction for the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. She was a follower of the cult leader Charles Mason. These murders took place in 1969 the day after the same cult murdered the pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four other people. Van Houten did not participate in those killings. Van Houten was retried twice for her crimes of murder and conspiracy. No other members of the Manson cult have been given parole.
The Board of Parole Hearings will consider her case and if they approve it, Governor Jerry Brown will ultimately decide if Van Houten will be awarded parole.
While Van Houten has been in prison, she obtained a college degree and has been cited as a model prisoner. It has been claimed that Van Houten was under Manson's influence because of her parents' divorce and the abortion her mother had her have at the age of fourteen. Otherwise, she was portrayed as a homecoming queen who came from a good family.
At the time of the murders, Van Houten was nineteen years old and the youngest member of the cult. She held down the victim, Rosemary LaBianca while another cult member stabbed her, and then she herself stabbed the victim at least 14 times after she was dead.
Van Houten's attorney said, "The only violent thing she has ever done in her entire life was this crime and that was under the control of Charles Manson...She is just not a public safety risk, and when you are not a public safety risk, the law says you shall be released." Moreover, her attorney stated, "Since 1980, there were 18 different doctors who did psychiatric evaluations of her. Every single one found she was suitable for parole."
Sharon Tate's sister, Debra, opposes Van Houten's parole, saying "she failed to show remorse for years after the crimes and can't be trusted."
Based on what I have read so far, I do not think that Van Houten should be released on parole. She was an adult at the time of the murders and should be responsible for her actions, even if she was in a cult. While she may not have been the first one to stab Rosemary LaBianca and kill her, she did stab her many times after and participated in the killings. I do not think that her good behavior in prison should absolve her from serving more time in prison. I do not believe that she is not dangerous as she participated in such vicious murders.
Do you think that Van Houten should be paroled? If so, why her and none of the other followers who have been denied parole?
Would you consider someone in a cult less guilty of murder than someone who acted alone? Should being under a cult's influence be considered in a inmate's sentencing, similar to pleading insanity?