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Susan Atkins up for Parole Next Month

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After being denied a compassionate release last July, Susan Atkins may have one more shot at freedom. Atkins comes up for her 18th bid for parole May 28.

According to her legal team:

Under California law the Parole Board must find Susan suitable for parole unless they determine her release would constitute a danger to society. Though now paralyzed over 85% of her body, can not sit up in bed, and can not even be moved into a wheelchair, there is still a very real chance the Parole Board will none the less insist her release would be a danger to society.
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Manson family members have never been granted parole. Ashley Broughton of CNN points out, "Susan Atkins, Charles "Tex" Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten have repeatedly been described as model prisoners who have accepted responsibility for their crimes."

In the rough draft of her recent book posted on her husband and lawyer's website, Atkins appears to show remorse, "They were heinous, degraded, and depraved murders of completely innocent people - people with loved ones, families, friends, dreams and hopes just like the rest of us - and all for the basest and most arrogant of causes; the serving of Charles Manson’s self-interest." In spite of all of the remorse and rehabilitation in the world, it has long been accepted that none of the Manson family members will ever be free. Somehow the Manson murders scarred Los Angeles, bringing terror, suspicion, and the end of the era of hippie love.

The debate over Atkin's upcoming hearing is heated, with victims' family members vociferously fighting any parole attempts and the war raging on the blogs and in the tabloids. The UK's Daily Star (which also sensationally and erroneously reports that Atkins drank Sharon Tate's blood) quotes SharonTate's sister Debra, as saying “The Manson Family are sociopaths who can never be rehabilitated...Has everyone forgotten the sheer barbarity of their actions and the sheer evil of their intent? The seven murders they committed were so vicious and so depraved there can be no turning back.” The same quote is coincidentally cited in the CNN piece.

In spite of an impressive amount of typos and some heavy-hitting bible quotes, the blog Baby Boomers Advisors Club makes some compelling emotional arguments, specifically that serving as model prisoners is simply a case of "too little too late". The blog states, "My opinion is that they all have lived 30 years longer then any of their victims." Actually, Atkins has also already outlived the prognosis of 3 to 6 years to live that was so often quoted last July.

Still, with all of the arguments against release, there is just the slightest possibility this time. It may be hard to convince the parole board that a 60 year-old with one leg and a brain tumor is much of a threat to society. But the legal requirement of proving a threat will probably always be overshadowed by the infamy and mercilessness of the crimes. Governor Schwarzenegger has promised to block all attempts at parole (in spite of this amazing picture unearthed by Cranky Greg's View).

A 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer:

Vincent Bugliosi regarding the previous bid for compassionate release:

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