Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Denial not just in Egypt Anymore







Parole panel denies compassionate release for Manson follower Susan Atkins

She has served 37 years for killing actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969. Now doctors give her only months to live.
By Hector Becerra and Andrew Blankstein
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

July 16, 2008

SACRAMENTO -- — A state parole panel today unanimously denied "compassionate release" for terminally-ill Manson follower Susan Atkins after hearing emotional testimony both for and against her release.

The 12-member State Board of Parole Hearing, as is customary, did not release any explanation for its decision.

Atkins, 60, played a central role in the 1969 slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and others in a bloody two-night rampage in the Los Angeles area. She has served 37 years in prison, longer than any other female prisoner, officials said.

Now ill with brain cancer and with one leg amputated and the other paralyzed, Atkins has only months to live, doctors have said.

The petition for Atkins' release had ignited debate about when mercy is appropriate, particularly considering the grisly crimes for which she was convicted. With the rejection by the panel, the process is effectively over, making it highly likely that she will die in custody.

Those backing her release argued unsuccessfully that the cost of keeping Atkins in prison, which is estimated at $1.4 million for medical care and security just since March, should be a factor in favor of releasing her because it would save the state substantial amounts of money.

At the hearing today, Atkins supporters spoke first to the 12-member State Board of Parole Hearing.

"She has without a doubt, she has paid her debt to society," said her niece Sharisse Atkins, 17. "You see her as a part of the Manson family I see her as a part of our family. I hope you can find it in your heart to do the right thing."

Her supporters drew attention at the hearing to former Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's support for Atkins release. In an e-mail this week to Atkins' attorney, Bugliosi wrote that it was wrong to say "just because Susan Atkins showed no mercy to her victims, we therefore are duty-bound to follow her inhumanity and show no mercy to her."

Opponents of Atkins' release disagreed. They spoke today of their memories of learning of the murders and the effects of the killings on their families.

Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she and four others were killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon. The actress, who was stabbed to death, had begged Atkins for her for her life.

"She asked me to let her baby live," Atkins told parole officials in 1993. "I told her I didn't have mercy for her."

At today's hearing, Pam Turner, Tate's cousin, sobbed, recalling being a child "so sick with grief that I wished I too could die."

Turner said she remembers the actress' mother "howling like a wounded animal" after hearing the news of the murders.

"My aunt's pain was palpable. She once put her hands on my pregnant belly and she cried," said Turner, alluding to the fact Tate had begged for the life of her unborn child. "She didn't say what she was crying about, but I knew."

Anthony DiMaria, whose uncle, Jay Sebring, was killed at the Tate's home, brought up news reports that Atkins' husband had called it "ridiculous" to spend so much money guarding his wife, who cannot even sit up in bed.

"To sum up these murders in terms of cost efficiency trivializes the victims' lives, and the lifelong impact on the victims' families," DiMaria said.

"There's discussion of dying with dignity.... the notion of dying with dignity is not determined by circumstance, but determined by choice," he told the panel. "Mrs. Atkins should die with dignity while serving out her sentence. My uncle died with dignity in the worst possible situation."

In addition to the testimony today, the board received about 100 letters, most opposing her release.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley was among those opposing the release, saying Atkins' "horrific crimes alone warrant a denial of her request."

Suzan Hubbard, director of California's adult prisons, had previously expressed her opposition.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas also wrote the director of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation saying Atkins should remain behind bars and away from Orange County, where her husband lives.

The hearing today before the state Board of Parole Hearings is the third in a four-step process that allows inmates to seek compassionate release.

She cleared the initial steps when officials at her prison in Chino found that her case met the criteria for compassionate release review, a determination seconded by officials at corrections headquarters in Sacramento.

In addition to testimony, the board received information including Atkins' medical records, recommendations from state corrections officials and her criminal history as well as information related to her behavior while in prison and an assessment of whether her release would pose a risk to the public.

Even if the panel had decided to recommend compassionate release, Atkins would have awaited a final determination by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

26 comments:

Brian Davis said...

From The Col's post,In an e-mail this week to Atkins' attorney, Bugliosi wrote that it was wrong to say "just because Susan Atkins showed no mercy to her victims, we therefore are duty-bound to follow her inhumanity and show no mercy to her."

That's surprising coming from Bugliosi,but,very well said,IMHO.

Marliese said...

I don't understand all the talk about "mercy"...how is Susan Atkins not being treated mercifully? She has undergone surgery and treatment for her cancer, she's in a hospital receiving pain meds and whatever else she requires medically, so how is she being treated without mercy? Because she's still in custody? Regardless, she was hospitalized for treatment that would hopefully prolong her life, and is now receiving compassionate hospice care there...that's merciful if you ask me. She has received more care than a lot of sick folks that aren't incarcerated receive...

FrankM said...

I have the feeling that it's not going to make a great deal of difference to Susan where she dies - and I'm imagining family members will be allowed to visit her on compassionate grounds (?).

That said, this vitriolic, last ditch outburst of a seemingly large number of people - some not even born in August 1969 - evidencing some kind of ill conceived mixture of vengeance and hatred does make me reflect a little on "man's inhumanity to man".

Ok, the woman was a confused, drug-crazed murderer, but she has done coming up to forty years in prison (a sentence rarely enforced anywhere in the world) which must go some way towards atonement. The cries of those howling against 'release' (and what can release it mean to a bedridden, semi-comatose 60 yr old) tell me more about those uttering them than they do about Susan's condition, posited release or prolonged imprisonment.

I'm not a religious person, but sometimes I feel enough is enough. Susan's life has been pretty much a disaster from start to finish, and no, I don't feel at all sorry for her. Her fate is sealed and she will no doubt die in prison, possibly in pain. But do we need to rejoice at that? All this posturing seems a little unnecessary.

Frank

Pristash said...

Indeed, Frank, indeed.

Pristash said...

I wonder what injury Debra suffered that was bad enough for her to miss the hearing?

Marliese said...

"Ill conceived vengeance and hatred, man's inhumanity to man" howling cries telling you more about those uttering them than Susan etc etc...good grief Frank, the drama!

I don't believe this is about inhumanity to Susan Atkins...she's been out of prison and in a hospital receiving compassionate medical and hospice care for months, more that her vicious crimes are beyond tolerance. Period.

If she's sincerely remorseful and repentant, she can die with dignity anywhere.

FrankM said...

Marliese

If you've not seen postings on blogs and other media saying things like "fry in hell, bitch", etc. then clearly we have different surfing habits.

You say "she's been out of prison and in a hospital receiving compassionate medical and hospice care for months"

I'm not sure what your point is here. Would you prefer her not to be given medical treatment and hospice care?

And you conclude: "more that her vicious crimes are beyond tolerance. Period".

Around the world there are many murderers who have done things just as bad - and worse -than Susan Atkins, but didn't happen to get tied up in a celebrity crime. Do you feel as strongly about them? About Red Brigade terrorists who killed innocent people in Bologna railway station? IRA terrorists who have killed and maimed civilians on the UK mainland? Two French students who were savaged last week in London (250 stab wounds between them) and then burned alive? Is Susan's case so, so much worse than these and countless others? Or do these lack the glitz and glamour of TLB?

Don't get me wrong - I'm in no way an apologist for Susan, and consider what she has done terrible. But I find it hard to understand the lack of - to use your word - tolerance for a woman who has served thirty-seven years of time, is dying painfully and has not even requested to be moved (the request is from prison authorities). And if I were a CA tax-payer I'd want to know why I was supporting the cost of it.

I'm sad that the milk of human kindness runs so thinly through your veins, sad too at your apparent attitude towards penance and atonement and curious why you are so fired up about Susan in particular – especially in her final days - and not out campaigning against others like her.

But I respect your views, as I ask you to respect mine.

Frank

Caryn said...

Hey, Col, you can imagine my surprise when I got your invitation. Heaven and I were just chatting about you this morning. Turns out you're not the ogre I thought you were. There's hope for everyone. Just kidding! Anyway, to frankm, your comment on the subject of Susan and this decision about her release is the BEST I've read anywhere. I realize that there's a lot of violence and inhumanity that goes on in the world, but somehow when I read the barbarous, vicious, and savage comments made about the dying Atkins I'm still taken aback.

augusteigth1969 said...

Why does Susan need to be released from state custody? She has her family surrounding her and isn't that more important than a slip of paper? She's comfortable and well taken care of so what difference does it make really?

dgreek said...

Hey Caryn!

dgreek said...

I was reading some of the comments following news articles about her release and the hatred there is shocking.

Pristash said...

I don't know what difference it may make to Susan, but I think it may be an assumption that Susan, being in the hospital, has contact with her family. Perhaps it is only her spouse that may be able to actually be with her.

The article today has said that it has cost over $1mill since she has been in the hospital, and additional $300grand just to guard her in the hospital, a total waste of taxpayers money because the state feels the need to incarcerate her on principal. Perhaps that may satisfy your feelings of vengeance, but I see it as nothing more than a waste...she has a family that would be able to take care of her at their own expense.

And why not have mercy on the killers' families as well. After all, they lose their children as well. I, unfortunately, know someone whose child committed a most horrible murder, and can see the pain she has to live with every day for the rest of her life. Walk a mile in their shoes and you may be surprised how similar the experience is of say, Tex Watson's parents or Doris Tate, to the parents of Atkins, Krenwinkle, etc...

Heaven said...

Hiya Denise and Caryn!!

=)

Heaven said...

I personally feel that it's not up to us to hate on Susan or rejoice in her misery...

It's a sad sad situation all the way around.. There are no winners. I only hope that Susan is comfortable and not in any pain...

=)

dgreek said...

Hi Heaven!

Heaven said...

You're not nice! LOL

For those who don't get the joke, naughty Denise knows I don't like spiders!! lol

=)

deadwoodhbo said...

I think if they where to let atkins out they would have to consider it for Charlie sometime in the future and they dont want to do that,its like well if i let you do it then they will all want to do it DIG! Thank you for the update Col.Brian:P:P:P:P and Hi to heaven and frank

Marliese said...

Frankm said, I'm sad that the milk of human kindness runs so thinly through your veins, sad too at your apparent attitude towards penance and atonement and curious why you are so fired up about Susan in particular – especially in her final days - and not out campaigning against others like her.



~ First Voltaire, now Shakespeare.
That's quite a call on my character, Frank. I'll quickly respond to your pompous ass by repeating what I said earlier, that certainly we're individually capable of promoting mercy, kindness, and compassion in our lives and the world around us whether or not we personally support compassionate release for Susan Atkins.

And since you like the quotes of others so much Frank, how about the one about acts of kindness to the cruel often cause cruelty to the kind? That's not unlike how I feel about compassionate release for Susan Atkins.

You weren't sure what my point was about Susan being in a hospital receiving medical and hospice care, so I'll clarify. Point being that she is not suffering neglect or being denied treatment...she's mercifully receiving compassionate care. If I preferred that she be denied care, or resented that she has been receiving care, I would have said so. But I can't imagine saying or personally feeling such a thing.

You haven't seen me say any of the die bitch die hate filled filthy remarks that are being said about Susan Atkins where ever you surf the internet. I have consistently expressed the opinion that no one deserves the horrors of dying a cancer death and my belief that if she's sincerely remorseful and repentant, she can die peacefully and with dignity anywhere.

Since I deeply resent your incredible personal attack on my character, I'm sure you'll understand if I don't read anything you have to say ever again.

angeLos said...

SA has changed a lot during those 37 years, she has done many positive things, and she clearly showed remorse and understood the gravity of her past actions, she should be eligible for a compassionate release...

the problem is, she has been , in the past associated with CM, and nobody trust him, too many lies...

Same for SA, nobody will trust her anymore, to many lies, whatever she says or does.

SA is taken care by doctor like any other patient in an ethical way without sufferings , now for beeing at home or in confinement, nobody will give her or CM other chances.

It is true that other horrible crimes and worse, beyond imagination, are still comitted, but what makes the TLB so special, imho, is that it had a frighteningly psycological aspect to it.

How can a 33 year old man persuade very young individuals to commit murders...?
The fact is not new (Pinochet...etc...) what is scarry, is that the true motives could be very selfish.

FrankM said...

Marliese has said recently

I'll quickly respond to your pompous ass …

I believe I said that I respected your position and hoped you would respect mine. ‘Pompous ass’ is not a good start. Why do you resent my quoting from literature? Is it a crime to have had an education? I have been a professional writer much of my life, and a teacher – am I supposed to ‘write down’ for others? Such condescension would be wholly unacceptable, not least to me..



by repeating what I said earlier

Well, that won’t advance the argument much, will it? If you feel you need to repeat youself, fine, but please understand if I don't.

You haven't seen me say any of the die bitch die hate filled filthy remarks that are being said about Susan Atkins where ever you surf the internet

That’s right, I haven’t. More importantly, nowhere have I said that I did.

I have consistently expressed the opinion that no one deserves the horrors of dying a cancer death and my belief that if she's sincerely remorseful and repentant, she can die peacefully and with dignity anywhere.



You have. And look, you’re saying it yet again. I doubt many people will disagree with you.

Since I deeply resent your incredible personal attack on my character

Now, this is the bit that totally mystifies me. Where have I made this ‘incredible personal attack’? I hope my posting history will have shown me to be at all times courteous, although I was once a little short with August (sorry, August).

But I do note one interesting thing. Whenever I post one of my longer, more thoughtful posts, you, Marliese, always post back negatively. I can not escape the feeling that you have a principled objection to whatever I say, perhaps because it is me that says it. Possibly this is a kneejerk reaction to what you see as my pomposity, my bookishness or an assumed intellectual superiority on my behalf.

I can’t help the way others see me, but I’m not going to change the way I post. However, bearing in mind your next comment ….

I'm sure you'll understand if I don't read anything you have to say ever again.

… I’m safe in the knowledge that I shall have one less critic, and hopefully no more need to counter your bluster.

Frank

A.C. Fisher Aldag said...

I just received an article from the "Fresno Bee" newspaper about the aging prison population. Gov. Terminator claims that he wishes to offer compassionate releases, and nursing and hospice care for the elderly inmates, to help reduce the costs of corrections in his state. This is instead of housing them in max. security. Some guy on a walker is not going to be able to escape, after all.

One of the examples in the article was an older Mexican-American man, who'd been convicted on three strikes and was serving life for -- get this -- stealing some crackers and cheese from a commissary vending machine. He is dying of liver disease. His care will cost the state thousands.

It's not just Ms. Atkins-Whitehouse. Our whole penal system is just simply out of control. Sentenced to life in prison for stealing cheese and crackers? Dang! This man was also denied compassionate release.

The true criminals wear coats and ties, and our taxes finance their salaries. CA residents, please remember this at election time.

Heaven said...

Hiya Deadwood, how's everything going? Hope all is well with you!

=)

Pristash said...

Ace makes a good point. Round these parts there was a guy who was sentenced to life in prison under the three strikes rule because he allegedly stole a slice of pizza.

Pristash said...

Hiya, Col!

I've been wondering...who was it exactly that tracked down Clem? Do they have any interest in tracking down anybody else? Whatever happened to Doyle and Harrigan?

And the Tate second homicide report mentions Joel Rostau and Karlene Anne McCaffrey with drug activity at Cielo...that Jay had recently been burned on a couple grand worth of coke, a drug dealer named Fred Small who claimed involvement in the murders, and a badass in Europe named Harry Baird who knew of the murders almost as soon as they occurred? Anyone know of any outcomes for any or all of these people?

jm30 said...

"....the cost of keeping Atkins in prison, which is estimated at $1.4 million for medical care and security just since March, should be a factor in favor of releasing her because it would save the state substantial amounts of money."

I do not live in California, but that's all I would need to hear to agree with the petition. She's in a freaking hospital bed someplace!!! I also think there would be something about the irony of keeping her locked up for all of these years while she was able-bodied and then kicking her out to the curb when she was no longer of any use. Let Whitehouse and company pay for her cremation.

deadwoodhbo said...

Heaven have a great weekend