When Life In Prison Really Should Mean Life In Prison!
In retrospect, I think they were unquestionably the crimes of the Twentieth Century.
In the early morning hours of August 9, 1969, a ragtag band of followers of Charles Manson headed into the hills around Los Angeles and brutally murdered actress Sharon Tate (who was 8 1/2 months pregnant), coffee heiress Abigail Folger and three others. The following evening, the group murdered businessman Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
Manson disciple Susan Atkins was generally considered to be one of the ringleaders of the homicidal band at the Tate residence. By her own admission, following the first murders, Atkins wrote the word "pig" on the wall using Sharon Tate's blood! While Atkins subsequently accompanied the group to the LaBianca residence, she did not enter.
After a trial, Atkins was found guilty of committing the "Tate" murders as well as one earlier murder (Gary Hinman). She was sentenced to death. However, after the death penalty in California was determined to be unconstitutional, Atkins saw her sentence converted to one of life in prison.
Atkins, now 59, has been in state prison for 37 years - longer than any other female inmate in California. Doctors say that she has brain cancer and that she has less than six months to live. Atkins (or someone on her behalf) is seeking a "compassionate release" which would allow her to spend her remaining days outside of prison. The request has received preliminary approval because some authorities believe that she no longer poses a risk to others.
I have a simple question. Is everybody in California crazy?
Susan Atkins is a monster - pure and simple. I don't care that she renounced Charles Manson and supposedly "found God"! I don't care that she may be dying. The fact is that she killed five people and destroyed the lives of countless others. Justice demands that she die in prison.
As a death penalty proponent, I think one can make a strong argument that society has gone beyond the "call of duty" by providing Atkins with food, shelter and medical care for the past 37 years. At a minimum, the taxpayers have showed her a lot more compassion than she showed Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger and the rest that fateful night in August.
Maybe the doctors are correct and Atkins only has a few months to live. On the other hand, she may live for years. Regardless, the only appropriate punishment for her crimes is that she spend whatever timre she has left behind bars.
If there was ever a defendant for whom a sentence of life in prison should mean "life in prison", Susan Atkins is that person!