The Real Reason One Charles Manson Follower Has Been Recommended For Parole Five Times

When it comes to the history of American true crime, it can be argued that the Tate-LaBianca murders, which were largely orchestrated by cult leader Charles Manson and carried out by his acolytes, changed the course of the 20th century. Though Manson was not actually present during the separate events, which resulted in the deaths of seven people (including "Valley of the Dolls" actor Sharon Tate), Manson was ultimately convicted of murder, along with his cohort, who called themselves "The Family." While many would expect that those followers — comprised of members Charles "Tex" Watson, Susan "Sadie" Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle, and Leslie Van Houten — would never see the light of day again, it seems Van Houten might still have a fighting chance.

As the Associated Press reported on November 10, Van Houten, 72, was officially recommended for parole by a California panel. The recent decision marks the fifth time Van Houten, who was 19 years old at the time of the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, has been recommended for release, per AP. So why exactly would Van Houten, a participant of one of the most famous murder cases within the last century, be considered for this release? And why has she been recommended for parole at least four times before the recent ruling?

Leslie Van Houten has been recommended for parole due to two major factors

As the Associated Press reported in November, the latest recommendation comes almost a year after Leslie Van Houten was nearly let out of the California corrections system in November 2020 — a move which was quashed last minute by California Governor Gavin Newsom. As AP (via Yahoo! News) noted at the time, Newsom stated publicly that "evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison," which largely informed his decision to block the parole ruling. Despite Newsom's decision, the basis for almost every argument advocating for Van Houten's parole seems to come down to her renunciation of Charles Manson, as was documented in the 1994 true crime book "Helter Skelter," along with her decision to use legal means to fight her life sentence — a method she first utilized in 2004.

Though at least two of Van Houten's fellow imprisoned Family members — Charles Watson and Susan Atkins — stated they sought repentance and atonement for their crimes by way of becoming born-again Christians, Van Houten's behavior and conduct within the prison system has been noticeably demonstrative enough (and assumingly authentic enough) to have granted her multiple recommendations for parole. However, as Newsom is still serving as governor, it seems unlikely he will have a change of heart and allow for Van Houten to taste freedom once again.