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Hot Topic (9/5): Compassionate release of terminally ill prisoners

Posted by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 1:59 AM
  • 19 Replies

From FOXNews.com:

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. —  Susan Atkins, the terminally ill Charles Manson follower who admitted stabbing actress Sharon Tate 40 years ago, lost what was likely to be her last bid for freedom.

Atkins, who suffers from brain cancer, slept through most of the four-hour hearing Wednesday during which her husband-lawyer pleaded for her release and families of victims of the Sharon Tate-Labianca killings urged that she be kept behind bars until she dies.

In a dramatic moment — one of the few in which Atkins opened her eyes — Atkins' husband, James Whitehouse, led her through a recitation of the 23rd Psalm, with Atkins concluding in a strong voice, "My God is an amazing God."

Debra Tate, sister of the actress who was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed, told the parole commissioners that she would have a 40-year-old nephew if her sister had lived. She said of Atkins, "I will pray for her soul when she draws her last breath, but until then I think she should remain in this controlled situation."

Parole commissioner Tim O'Hare said that he and the other commissioner who presided over the hearing, Jan Enloe, based their decision heavily on the "atrocious nature" of the 1969 killings and said that Atkins never fully understood the magnitude of her crimes.

Atkins, 61, had been expected to die of brain cancer over a year ago but continues to cling to life. She also had a leg amputated.

She was denied compassionate release in July 2008 after she was diagnosed and given only months to live. Wednesday's hearing at the Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla was her regular parole hearing as a life prisoner. She stands convicted of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders, one of the most notorious mass murders in California history.

The gruesome murders that made the Manson cult infamous were discovered on Aug. 9, 1969, when a maid ran screaming from the home shared by Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski.

Five people were killed in a ritualistic manner, including Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring. Two others were killed at another home. Polanski was not at home at the time of the slayings.

The next night, wealthy grocer Leno La Bianca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, were found stabbed to death in their home across town

Atkins admitted stabbing Tate to death as Tate begged for her life and that of her unborn son. Atkins claimed she and other cult followers acted on orders from Manson and were on LSD.

It was Atkins who led police to arrest members of the Manson clan when she confessed to a cellmate after she had been arrested in a robbery.

At a hearing in 2000, Atkins acknowledged, "I sinned against God and everything this country stands for." She said she wanted to make amends for what she did.

Whitehouse, 46, has said his wife has made him a better person in their 21 years of marriage and should be released if for no other reason than to keep taxpayers from having to cover her hefty medical expenses.

Manson, Atkins and two other followers, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten, were convicted and sentenced to death. The sentences were commuted to life when the death penalty was temporarily outlawed in the United States in the 1970s.

* * *

Do you believe in "compassionate release" of prisoners with a terminal illness?

Why or why not?

 





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by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 1:59 AM
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Replies (1-10):
mamaof2angles
by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 3:47 AM

No, because they were charged and should serve their time no matter what, In this case I agree with the parole board in DENYING her, she killed a mother and her unborn child all because she was on "LSD" and following orders from Manson, sorry but I dont care she commited MURDER and was sentanced and should remain in prison until her death.

stormcris
by Christy on Sep. 5, 2009 at 5:39 AM

I think perhaps they should be released in order to have to pay for their own medical treatment, but on the other hand it would depend on what the conditions of their crime is. The real question here is the person still a danger to society. In this case I think she is not. Manson was a master of hypnotic speech and that combined with the drug use could cause even the most sane person to commit horrendous acts. Putting her in her home under house arrest would serve the public better. Without the ability for compassion, we lose any hope for society.

aidansmommy961
by Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Absolutely not. Susan Atkins did not show compassion to Sharon Tate and her unborn child. The lockerbie bomber didn't show compassion to the 250 people on that plane so why should they be given that chance? I say die in jail where you belong for the heinous crimes you committed.

 

BrettMommy08
by New Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 9:47 AM

I say no!! Why should we have compassion towards people that have, murdered, raped, or  molested. They didnt have compassion when they commited the crime. All they are going to do if you release them is probaly do there crime again and then that just ruins some elses life. I think that if they are terminally ill they should still get treatment but behind prison walls.

DevilDuckie
by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:05 AM

Absolutely not !  Her victims did not get to go home with their families and die in peace.  She got life and prison and that is how long she should serve.  Just because she is ill doesn't change the fact that she did something wrong.  She should have thought about this before she committed a crime.  Who cares if her husband thinks she is a better person now - her victims are still DEAD.

It pisses me off how much money this monster has wasted through her parole hearings.  She doesn't deserve to get out because honestly she hasn't taken her sentence seriously.  She is the one who keeps questioning the court just because she got sick.  Oh well.  It is her own fault she is where she is.

She should be happy she didn't get the death penalty and shut the hell up.  I wish her sentence had been life WITHOUT the chance for parole. 

 

waiting4it2snow
by New Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:08 AM


Quoting stormcris:

I think perhaps they should be released in order to have to pay for their own medical treatment, but on the other hand it would depend on what the conditions of their crime is. The real question here is the person still a danger to society. In this case I think she is not. Manson was a master of hypnotic speech and that combined with the drug use could cause even the most sane person to commit horrendous acts. Putting her in her home under house arrest would serve the public better. Without the ability for compassion, we lose any hope for society.

I really liked what Stormcris had to say, especially about whether the individual is a current threat/danger to society.  Also, I think the parole board has to take into account whether the person is sorry for thier crimes - afterall, isn't prison supposed to bring about rehabilitation? 

However, I do feel that the wishes of the surviving family members of the victim should be strongly considered, (as they were).  In this case, the family strongly objected to Mrs. Atkins release.

I am comfortable with the decision the parole board arrived at in this case.


~Molly


winkblinknod
by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:10 AM

No, have compassion on them while in prison.  She committed a murder and she should pay the consequence for that murder whether she is dying or not. 

mymichelle2002
by Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Does this same logic apply if she kills YOUR child?

Quoting stormcris:

I think perhaps they should be released in order to have to pay for their own medical treatment, but on the other hand it would depend on what the conditions of their crime is. The real question here is the person still a danger to society. In this case I think she is not. Manson was a master of hypnotic speech and that combined with the drug use could cause even the most sane person to commit horrendous acts. Putting her in her home under house arrest would serve the public better. Without the ability for compassion, we lose any hope for society.


mymichelle2002
by Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:17 AM

They should have expedited her to Texas. We wouldn't even be having this discussion had she been in front of their judges. UGH!!!!

rozepyle
by on Sep. 5, 2009 at 10:20 AM

honestly we have enough wack jobs roaming the street as it is.

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