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Why Charles Manson cult member Leslie Van Houten was released from prison 53 years after committing murder

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FILE - Leslie Van Houten attends her parole hearing at the California Institution for Women Sept. 6, 2017 in Corona, Calif. A California appeals court says Charles Manson follower Van Houten should be paroled. The appellate court's Tuesday, May 30, 2023, decision reverses an earlier decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected her parole in 2020. His administration could appeal. (Stan Lim/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)
Photograph of Leslie Van Houten.

Leslie Van Houten was a teenager in August 1969 when she participated in the horrific killing of a married couple in their Los Angeles home at the behest of cult leader Charles Manson. In 1971, Van Houten received the death sentence for the murder of Leno LaBianca, a wealthy businessman, and his wife, Rosemary. But that was commuted to life in prison the following year when the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s death penalty law.

On Tuesday, after 53 years in prison, Van Houten, 73, was released on parole. This came after a California Second District Court of Appeals judge reversed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to block her parole. Van Houten was recommended for parole five times since 2016, but former Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom rejected all of those recommendations.

Van Houten is the only one of Manson’s followers involved in the murder who was let out of prison after Newsom announced last week that he would not appeal to the California Supreme Court. Northeastern Global News spoke to Daniel Medwed, university distinguished professor of law and criminal justice, about Van Houten’s release and why murderers can be paroled in some cases. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.

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