**Leslie Van Houten, Charles Manson Follower, Released from Prison after 50 Years: A Closer Look**
Former Manson family member, Leslie Van Houten, who played a role in the horrific murders of a wealthy Los Angeles couple in 1969, was released from prison on Tuesday after serving more than 50 years of a life sentence. In this article, we will explore the details of Van Houten’s release, the crimes she committed, and the parole decision that led to her freedom.
**The Release and Reintegration**
Van Houten, now 73 years old, was released to parole supervision, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. After leaving the California Institution for Women in Corona, she was taken to transitional housing. “She’s still trying to get used to the idea that this is real,” said her attorney Nancy Tetreault.
**Governor’s Decision and Manson’s Influence**
Governor Gavin Newsom announced earlier that he would not contest a state appeals court ruling granting Van Houten parole. Newsom believed that an appeal to the state Supreme Court was unlikely. Van Houten testified at a parole hearing in 2016 that the murders were part of Charles Manson’s plan for a race war called “Helter Skelter.” Manson had his followers prepare for the war by living in a hole in the desert and learning skills like canning food.
**The Gruesome Murders and Manson Family**
Van Houten was initially sentenced to death in 1971 for her involvement in the killings of Leno LaBianca, a grocer, and his wife, Rosemary. However, her sentence was later commuted to life in prison due to the California Supreme Court’s overturning of the state’s death penalty law. The murder scene was horrifying, with blood smeared on the walls. Van Houten admitted to holding Rosemary down while Manson follower Charles “Tex” Watson stabbed her multiple times.
The LaBianca murders occurred a day after the Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings. She is the first Manson family member involved in the murders to be released.
**Adapting to the Modern World**
Van Houten is expected to spend around a year at a halfway house while adjusting to a world that has drastically changed over the past 50 years. She will need to learn how to use the internet and make purchases without cash, according to Tetreault. Despite her time in prison, Van Houten obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in counseling and worked as a tutor for other inmates. She hopes to secure employment soon.
**Legal Battle and Rehabilitation Efforts**
Van Houten was found suitable for parole in July 2020, but Governor Newsom blocked her release, citing concerns about her potential danger to society. Van Houten appealed the decision, but it was rejected by a trial court. She then turned to the appellate courts, and the Second District Court of Appeal reversed Newsom’s rejection of her parole in a 2-1 ruling. The judges criticized Newsom for claiming that Van Houten did not adequately explain her susceptibility to Manson’s influence. They also dismissed concerns about her past violent acts due to her extensive rehabilitative efforts, remorse, and parole plans.
**Impact on the Victims’ Families**
The possibility of Van Houten’s release has deeply affected the families of the victims. Cory LaBianca, the daughter of Leno LaBianca, expressed heartbreak, while Anthony DiMaria, whose uncle was among the victims, described the release as devastating for all the victims’ families. Despite the passage of over five decades, the pain and loss caused by the Manson cult continue to haunt them.
**Background and Manson’s Death**
Van Houten’s life spiraled out of control at the age of 14 following her parents’ divorce. She turned to drugs and became pregnant, but her mother forced her to undergo an illegal abortion and bury the fetus in the family’s backyard. Van Houten became the youngest member of the Manson family when she joined Manson’s group at an old movie ranch in Los Angeles.
Manson, the cult leader behind the gruesome murders, died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83. His followers, Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel, have been repeatedly denied parole. Krenwinkel was recommended for parole in 2020, but Newsom rejected it. Another follower, Susan Atkins, passed away in prison in 2009.
In conclusion, Leslie Van Houten’s release from prison after serving over 50 years for her involvement in the Manson family murders has raised numerous concerns. While her rehabilitation efforts were recognized by the courts, the impact on the victims’ families remains painful. Van Houten’s reintegration into society poses challenges, including adapting to the modern world and finding employment. The Manson cult’s heinous crimes continue to leave a dark and lasting legacy.