Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sexy Sadie Asks For Mercy She Never Gave

Prison boss opposes release of ailing ex-Manson follower

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- California's director of adult prisons is recommending against "compassionate release" for a terminally ill former Manson family member, a spokeswoman said.

Suzan Hubbard, director of the Division of Adult Institutions, decided that Susan Atkins' request should not be sent to the sentencing court for consideration, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Hubbard's recommendation is advisory and will not necessarily prevent Atkins' release.

The court -- not the department or the state Board of Parole Hearings -- has the final say on whether Atkins should be released, Thornton said. "They're the only ones legally who can recall the sentence," she added.

Atkins, 60, was convicted in the 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and four others. She had been incarcerated at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California, but has been hospitalized since mid-March.

Her request is now before the Board of Parole Hearings, which is conducting an independent investigation and will hear the case during its monthly public meeting, Thornton said. The next meeting is scheduled July 15.

Atkins had been held for years at the Corona prison, which earlier determined that she met the criteria for compassionate release under the law, and sent her request to the corrections department.

The Board of Parole Hearings will receive public comment, discuss the request in closed session and then announce its recommendation. The board also can decide whether to refer the request to the sentencing court.

The court, based in Los Angeles, can either grant or deny Atkins' request. It also can recall her life sentence and resentence Atkins to a lesser term, allowing for her to be paroled.

In 2007, the department received 60 compassionate release requests, Thornton said. Ten were approved.

Citing privacy rules, prison officials would not disclose the nature of Atkins' illness. Her husband and attorney, James Whitehouse, has been quoted as saying she has terminal brain cancer, according to a blog called Manson Family Today. She also has had a leg amputated, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Atkins, known within the Manson family as "Sadie Mae Glutz," has been in prison since 1971 and has been denied parole 11 times. She is California's longest-serving female inmate.

Tate and three houseguests were slain in August 1969 by killers who burst into her Benedict Canyon home. A teenager who was visiting the home's caretaker in his cottage on the property also was killed.

According to historical accounts of the murders, Atkins stabbed Tate, who was 8½ months pregnant, and wrote the word "pig" in blood on the door of the home the actress shared with her husband, director Roman Polanski.

The following night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain in their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The two-day crime spree sent shock waves throughout Los Angeles.

All of the killers remain behind bars. Atkins also was convicted in the earlier murder of music teacher Gary Hinman.

Atkins, like family leader Charles Manson, received a death sentence. Her punishment was changed to life in prison when the California Supreme Court ruled the state's death penalty unconstitutional in 1972.

Atkins is a born-again Christian, according to a Web site maintained by her husband. During her incarceration, the site says, Atkins has worked to help at-risk youth, victims of violent crimes and homeless children.

Last month, authorities dug for buried bodies at the Inyo County, California, ranch where Manson and his followers once lived, after police became aware that testing had indicated humans might be buried there. Nothing was found, police said.

1 comment:

Pristash said...

Interesting letters to the Editor of the LA Times after they published their "No Mercy for Tate Killer" editorial. I wrote my own letter but it hasn't been published.

Why punish taxpayers?

Re "No mercy," editorial, June 18

The problem with your editorial dismissing compassionate release for Manson family killer Susan Atkins (who is dying of cancer) is that it advocates punishing taxpayers to no productive end. The editorial correctly points out that we've already taken Atkins' productive life away from her, which, considering her crimes, was fully appropriate and quite enough. Now that she has so little time left, all we're doing by keeping her incarcerated is paying to provide her with free room, board and healthcare. Who exactly does that punish?

Sometimes standing on rigid ceremony is a waste of everyone's time and money. Requiring a cancer victim to die in prison on the public's dime for symbolic purposes does nothing for public safety or crime prevention, and we have better things to spend the money on in these difficult times.

Jim Bickhart


I was the psychologist at the California Institution for Women for a time and got to know Atkins moderately well. To this day, I do not trust testimony she gave in court because she was starving for acceptance, and I believe she altered her testimony to curry favor with others in the Manson group. She was of age, but I do not think she was fully competent.

In any case, I believe that the criterion for releasing an inmate back into the community should be potential danger to the community. There should be no other criterion, least of all revenge. At the present time, it is clear that Atkins would be no danger to the community. She should be out among us, to smell the fresh air so to speak, before she is laid to rest.

Jerrold Cohen

Seal Beach