CNN California Governor Gavin Newsom rejected the parole board’s recommendation to release Leslie Van Houten, a former Manson family member, and convicted murderer, stating that she continues to pose a threat to public safety.
Van Houten was 19 years old when she encountered Charles Manson and joined the murderous cult known as the “Manson family.” She was condemned in 1971 for her role in the gruesome stabbing deaths of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home.
She is currently 72 years old.
“Ms. Van Houten continues to lack sufficient insight into the risk factors that led to her violent conduct in the past and the skills to protect against her becoming susceptible to similar pressures in the future,” the governor said in his Tuesday decision.
Van Houten has not adequately addressed why she joined and persisted in a violent cult or the precipitating circumstances that led to the murder of Mrs. LaBianca, according to Newsom.
Rich Pfeiffer, Van Houten’s attorney, released the following statement on her behalf: “I’m disappointed, and I’ll pursue my legal options.”
Pfeiffer told CNN that the governor’s decision was not unexpected and that he “can’t imagine any governor allowing her release, but would love to see someone have the courage to do it.”
Following her conviction, Van Houten was given the death penalty. However, the death sentence was annulled, and she was sentenced to life in prison. In 1977, she became eligible for parole.
In 2016, California’s parole commission recommended her release for the first time. This decision was twice denied by former governor Jerry Brown, who cited the heinous nature of the murders and Van Houten’s eager participation, and by the current governor. This is the third time that Newsom has determined Van Houten to be unsuitable to rejoin society.
Pfeiffer remarked, “She maintains hope at all times.”
In May 2023, Van Houten is scheduled to return to the California Institution for Women in Corona for another parole suitability hearing.