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Scarlett

Leslie Van Houten

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Mercy I am feeling your line of thinking.  I have pondered the concept of what if it were my family murdered. I mean, why does that change the Standard?  When I see a pattern of willful sin, lawbreaking, willful disregard for human life.....yes I can see life in prison.  But when we are talking a youthful crime....even if horrific....I just feel sadness.  I don’t wish for no punishment.  But I wish for redemption.  And 50 years in prison with strides toward redemption seems adequate. 

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6 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

I can’t help but wonder if we would be having this discussion if Leslie Van Houten was a man. 

She is a mild-looking older woman who appears harmless. What if she was the same age, but was a muscular 6’3” tall man with multiple visible tattoos? Even if his prison record was exemplary, would people be likely to trust that he was completely reformed and that he would never hurt anyone else? 

Would you also support the parole of the male murderers who were Manson followers?

Yes, I would be just as supportive of parole for male offenders. 

I don't see prison as serving a useful function if someone is not a danger to society.  I also believe that most young people who commit crimes (even horrific ones) still have so much brain development that happens in their young adult years that they can grow and develop in very positive ways such that they are no longer likely to be a risk to anyone.  (I've read some very encouraging things about this in the context of teens who commit sexual assault or molestation.  Unlike adult offenders, there is so much neuroplasticity and re-offense rates, especially after treatment, but even just with some measure of constructive accountability, are quite low.  There were some great articles about it back after Steubenville,  but I lost the ones I'd saved when my harddrive died)

I can't support the punitive lines of thinking some have shared here - reformation is a worthy goal, punishment for the sake of punishment?  No.  No one benefits from that, and harsh sentences have not been shown to be any kind of deterrent to other potential offenders.

I would much prefer to see our systems overhauled and focused on restorative justice rather than punishment.  (As long as someone is reasonably deemed to be a danger to others, there needs to be protective measures, which could very well include long-term incarceration, but I see that as very different than when the intention to 'make someone pay'.)  I also believe we need to address the horrors inside many prisons - no one, no matter what crime they have committed, should be subjected to sexual assault, or some of the inhumane treatment that occurs in some jails...but that's a difference conversation.

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8 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

You know, in some parts of the Christian church, if you have ever killed someone, even as a soldier in war, you can never become a priest.  It's not that you aren't forgiven if you confess, but there is a sense that you are somehow changed.

I think that is true, I think people are changed permanently.  I just don't see that prison is necessarily the best way to deal with that in every instance, permanently.  

Even biblically David was not permitted to build the temple due to his wartime campaigns 

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2 hours ago, MercyA said:

Yes. Just as King David was not allowed to build a temple for the Lord: "You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight” (1 Chronicles 22:8).

 

2 hours ago, MercyA said:

There is no line except the artificial one we make when we glorify the military. Killing innocent people is always wrong. Always. Whether you're in the military and following orders or not. 

 

I know your Christian so just thought I’d reference the punishment if I think Joab?  The comment was he “shed the blood of war in a time of peace” or something to that effect.  I will have to get the exact reference for you.  Biblically there is a difference placed between wartime killing versus peace time.  Whether that’s relevant to a mostly post Christian society is a separate question.

edited to add 1 kings 2:5 

Edited by Ausmumof3
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10 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I know your Christian so just thought I’d reference the punishment if I think Joab?  The comment was he “shed the blood of war in a time of peace” or something to that effect.  I will have to get the exact reference for you.  Biblically there is a difference placed between wartime killing versus peace time.  Whether that’s relevant to a mostly post Christian society is a separate question.

edited to add 1 kings 2:5 

I hadn't remembered that passage; thanks! Israel was a special nation and God instructed them when to go to war and whom to fight. There is no nation that God is now instructing to go to war. 

A Christian's primary citizenship is that of heaven (Philippians 3:20). We have new instructions--love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, live at peace, live quietly, do violence to no one.

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11 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I hadn't remembered that passage; thanks! Israel was a special nation and God instructed them when to go to war and whom to fight. There is no nation that God is now instructing to go to war. 

A Christian's primary citizenship is that of heaven (Philippians 3:20). We have new instructions--love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, live at peace, live quietly, do violence to no one.

Totally 100pc agree.

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20 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

Do you also believe that the other Manson followers who committed brutal murders should be released as well? 

 

There are a lot of considerations in determining what the best course of action is with a particular inmate, which is why parole boards spend a fair amount of time considering each case individually.  I certainly couldn't say without knowing the kinds of details the parole board is privy to.

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11 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 

There are a lot of considerations in determining what the best course of action is with a particular inmate, which is why parole boards spend a fair amount of time considering each case individually.  I certainly couldn't say without knowing the kinds of details the parole board is privy to.

Wait. You can’t say that parole boards spend a fair amount of time considering each case individually.  Every one is different, and way too many spend mere MINUTES. I have a close family friend who spent decades in prison. I know exactly what they looked at, I heard them tell me with their own lips how long they spent( multiple parole hearings). There’s a serious lack of everything positive that’s needed in our prisons, and I’m sure a bit of googling will give a prettty gloomy view of our parole board practices, too.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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Oh, and for what it's worth, I was a soldier, as was my dh, and I don't find questions around killing in war offensive.  That' snot to say I think being a serial murderer is the same as killing in war, there are any number of differences, but its worth thinking about just what those are, what killing another person means at its most basic level.

Manson himself, in my opinion, was both evil and mad.  It sounds a bit medieval I'm sure, but he seems to me like a man who allowed himself to be inhabited by a demon.  There is no way he should have ever stepped out of a prison, even had he been able to come to some better place spiritually speaking.  

But young people, who had been dragged into a cult and manipulated and under the influence of drugs are a very different story.  I think that is a situation that could happen to almost any young person under the right set of conditions.  

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3 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

Wait. You can’t say that parole boards spend a fair amount of time considering each case individually.  Every one is different, and way too many spend mere MINUTES. I have a close family friend who spent decades in prison. I know exactly what they looked at, I heard them tell me with their own lips how long they spent( multiple parole hearings). There’s a serious lack of everything positive that’s needed in our prisons, and I’m sure a bit of googling will give a prettty gloomy view of our parole board practices, too.

 

Yes, I'm sure that's often true, but I am really just saying that its not a question that can be answered as a general principle, without any kind of information about an individual. 

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 10:20 AM, J-rap said:

I know it's been decided already, but just thinking about this.  It's a tough call.  Certainly it's a horrific crime, and a severe punishment can serve as a deterrent.  But, it's been a long time, and it sounds like she has really changed a lot.  Plus, I think about her being young and so mixed up...

It reminds me a little of mystery author Anne Perry.  She was only a teenager when she and her best friend committed a gruesome crime.  She was in jail for only five years, and eventually became the author she is today.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Perry

 

 

I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but I do not think anyone who is capable if such torture and wanton cruelty can change that part of their person.  I feel that is a flat-out defect in their humanity and they should never again see freedom.  It doesn't matter how bad a childhood was, whether drugs were involved, or what types of problems a person has; what killers like this do is beyond human.

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 5:34 PM, maize said:

Do those of you who believe that perpetrators of violent crimes should have no mercy and can never be considered reformed also believe that people who kill under the direction of military commanders are similarly irrevocably tainted?

I don't think all murderers should be lifers and most should be eligible for parole at some time; not people like this, however.  I do not think those under military command are murderers; I have solid reasons for thinking this way but do not have the time for a long draw-out debate that is unlikely to sway opinions about the matter. 

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I don't know.

I'm a huge believer in justice reform.  I think prison should be available to protect the general population from threats, but I think we don't do enough to assess when a person is a threat and what other options are available to create a safe population and reduce prison needs to begin with.  I honestly don't see freed prisoners as being in a better situation than prison.  They will almost never get a real job because nobody will hire them and the state often has a bill for their prison stay, which unpaid, will land them back in.  It's a catch-22.  Even if paroled, she will probably end up back there so it's a moot point.

I don't think there is a right answer in this situation without a careful study and reform of what we expect in a justice system.
 

Edited by HomeAgain

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1 hour ago, Reefgazer said:

 I do not think those under military command are murderers

 

Murder is commonly defined as unlawful, premeditated killing.

Killing in a military context is most often premeditated; the primary thing setting it apart from murder is that war killing is usually considered lawful--at least, on the side of the people committing any particular killing act, and especially if the side of the person who kills happens to come out victor in the conflict. 

Lawful and moral however are different questions to consider, with morality rarely being as black and white as lawfulness.

Edited by maize
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2 hours ago, Reefgazer said:

I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but I do not think anyone who is capable if such torture and wanton cruelty can change that part of their person.  I feel that is a flat-out defect in their humanity and they should never again see freedom.  It doesn't matter how bad a childhood was, whether drugs were involved, or what types of problems a person has; what killers like this do is beyond human.

Yeah, I honestly do not know.  If a person is that broken, can they truly ever be whole?  I don't know.  

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8 hours ago, Reefgazer said:

I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but I do not think anyone who is capable if such torture and wanton cruelty can change that part of their person.  I feel that is a flat-out defect in their humanity and they should never again see freedom.  It doesn't matter how bad a childhood was, whether drugs were involved, or what types of problems a person has; what killers like this do is beyond human.

 

I agree. And I also believe that the vast, vast majority of people who had terrible childhoods, used drugs, and had all sorts of problems in their lives would still never, ever be willing or able to murder another person, let alone do it in such a hands-on and gruesome way. There is simply no possible excuse for having participated in that kind of brutal slaughter.

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15 hours ago, Reefgazer said:

I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but I do not think anyone who is capable if such torture and wanton cruelty can change that part of their person.  I feel that is a flat-out defect in their humanity and they should never again see freedom.  It doesn't matter how bad a childhood was, whether drugs were involved, or what types of problems a person has; what killers like this do is beyond human.

I agree to a large extent. I also think that punishment actually is a legitimate reason for someone to be in prison, certainly a murderer. 

Regarding the Anne Perry case, she of course did go on to become a successful author after her quite short prison term, but many think that she never truly expressed remorse or accepted responsibility for the crime (and I am mostly in that camp, although I have not read the new biography yet). In interviews, she has blamed the other girl, said she saw no possible way out of doing it (maybe don't show up?), quite a lot of 'it wasn't really my fault' stuff in my opinion. And this quote completely shocked me:

"It never occurred to me that 40 years on, something that had been dealt with and paid for, that anybody would care anymore. It's like somebody rushing in with the news that Queen Anne is dead. For Pete's sake, is there anybody who didn't know? I really didn't think it would surface again so long afterward. And it if did, it would be, you know, so what?"

So what? An utter lack of awareness that taking the life of a human being does indeed matter even 40 years later.  I think AP came out of prison reformed in the sense that she was very unlikely to commit a crime again, but she was either not very remorseful or she is a writer who is very, very bad at expressing her personal thoughts. 

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On 6/8/2019 at 9:31 AM, Reefgazer said:

I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but I do not think anyone who is capable if such torture and wanton cruelty can change that part of their person.  I feel that is a flat-out defect in their humanity and they should never again see freedom.  It doesn't matter how bad a childhood was, whether drugs were involved, or what types of problems a person has; what killers like this do is beyond human.

I agree that people who do something like this almost always have something broken in them that cannot actually be fixed. But does that mean that they will kill again? I don't think so. I think particularly in this case there were influences pushing Leslie to be the absolute worst version of herself. With those influences gone, and many, many years in prison to reflect and change, I would be shocked if she participated in violent crime again.

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On ‎6‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 11:35 AM, J-rap said:

Yeah, I honestly do not know.  If a person is that broken, can they truly ever be whole?  I don't know.  

Yes, this is what Imeant - I do not think they are re-habilitatable.  I know that's not an actual word...

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7 hours ago, MercyA said:

I agree that people who do something like this almost always have something broken in them that cannot actually be fixed. But does that mean that they will kill again? I don't think so. I think particularly in this case there were influences pushing Leslie to be the absolute worst version of herself. With those influences gone, and many, many years in prison to reflect and change, I would be shocked if she participated in violent crime again.

I do believe that an appropriate use of prison is reform, rehabilitation, and punishment.  Sometimes, just outright punishment and nothing else, and that is acceptable for something this horrendous.

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14 hours ago, MercyA said:

I agree that people who do something like this almost always have something broken in them that cannot actually be fixed. But does that mean that they will kill again? I don't think so. I think particularly in this case there were influences pushing Leslie to be the absolute worst version of herself. With those influences gone, and many, many years in prison to reflect and change, I would be shocked if she participated in violent crime again.

I agree.

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