Monday, September 07, 2009
Sadie Still Alive Wants Out
September 3, 2009, 10:57 am
No Compassionate Release for Manson Follower Involved in Killing Spree
By Robert Mackey
DESCRIPTIONPool photograph/Ben Margot, via Associated Press During a break in her parole hearing on Wednesday, Susan Atkins, a convicted murderer with brain cancer, was comforted by her husband and attorney James Whitehouse in a California prison.
California is not Scotland. That’s the message one British newspaper took from Wednesday’s decision by a California parole board to turn down an application for compassionate release submitted on behalf of Susan Atkins, who is serving a life sentence for her part in the 1969 killing spree carried out by followers of Charles Manson.
In London, The Daily Mail contrasted the decision with one taken two weeks earlier by the Scottish regional government to free Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted of murder for his role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The Mail’s headline suggested “Scotland Take Note” of the fact that Ms. Atkins lost her bid for parole “DESPITE Being on Her Death Bed.”
In a this brief Twitter update announcing the decision on Wednesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation made no mention of the fact that Ms. Atkins has terminal brain cancer:
CDCR’s Board of Parole Hearings today denied parole for convicted mass murderer Susan Atkins
A news release on the department’s Web site noted that this is the second time the board “denied a recommendation for recall of commitment (compassionate release) for Atkins.” On July 15, 2008, the board made the same decision when Ms. Atkins was said to have no more than six months to live.
It seems the board was not moved by the evidence presented by her husband and attorney, James Whitehouse, or by the Web site SusanAtkins.org, which is dedicated to:
Her life, her accomplishments since incarceration, her work with the Church, the Community and the needy, and her eligibility for parole.
Testimony from the family members of her victims seemed to carry more weight. On Thursday, The Associated Press reported that Ms. Atkins “slept through most of the four-hour hearing Wednesday during which her husband-lawyer pleaded for her release and families of victims of the Sharon Tate-LaBianca killings urged that she be kept behind bars until she dies.”
Leaving aside compassion, the board was apparently also not swayed by the more pragmatic argument made last year by a California lawyer who argued that, in general, “incarcerating people who are permanently medically incapacitated is a policy that produces no benefit to taxpayers at astronomical expense.”
Last year, before the board rejected Ms. Atkins’s first request for compassionate release, Debra Tate, a sister of the murdered actress, explained in this video interview that she opposed the release since, “she didn’t show any of her victims any compassion whatsoever — as a matter of fact, she personally killed Sharon, and Sharon was begging for the life of her unborn baby at the time.” This 2008 video report by ABC News includes excerpts from an interview with Ms. Atkins in 2002 in which she said that Mr. Manson is “the one person that is the most difficult person in my life to forgive. I work on that. I don’t want to live a life with any unforgiveness in it.”