fierce attachments

a mother-daughter blog about the fierce attachments in our lives… title inspired by Vivian Gornick's wonderful memoir

Tag: leslie van houten

governor brown bows to pressure and reverses former manson family member leslie van houten’s parole approval

by nikki meredith

I’m discouraged that Governor Brown, for the second year in a row, has refused to follow the parole board’s recommendation to release Leslie Van Houten. I’m also surprised. For those of us who have followed his political career from a law-and-order hard liner as a young governor to a humane, seasoned and, we thought, wise leader as an older governor, this is a major disappointment. When he was younger, he didn’t believe in rehabilitation. Now he’s known as a governor who believes in second chances, but not in this case. Here, he’s bowing to pressure from the loudest and the most reactionary voices in the criminal justice system.

The murders of Mr. and Mrs. La Bianca were horrific. No one disagrees. To this day, the description of the events of that night takes my breath away but to keep Leslie Van Houten locked-up almost 50 years later is not just, by any stretch. If it had not been a high profile crime, she would have been paroled many years ago. There isn’t a single person who actually knows her who believes that she’s dangerous and that includes mental health professionals who have evaluated her, professors she’s studied under, journalists who have interviewed her, correctional officers she’s worked with side-by-side. Her case file is filled with reports demonstrating that she’s not only rehabilitated now, she has been for several decades. Read the rest of this entry »


manson’s followers, and what they reveal about human nature, are his true legacy

by nikki meredith

Sociopaths are a dime a dozen but we would not even know Charles Manson’s name without the young people he attracted and manipulated.  Manson’s legacy is not only the violent, senseless deaths of innocent people, it’s the way normal people – people like you and me – came under his spell. We dismiss those people at our peril:  the methods ISIS uses are the same, the methods Jim Jones used were the same. There are bloody examples throughout the modern world from Nazi Germany to Rwanda. What attracts people to them, crazy as it sounds, is the false promise of a better world.  These relationships are fueled by a twisted idealism that puts the objects of their focus in grave danger.  Manson was very good at telling people in search of meaning and family what they wanted and needed to hear. The legacy of his notoriety should be studying ways to interfere with the influence malevolent charismatic leaders have so we can better predict and prevent the violence they perpetuate.

My book, The Manson Women and Me, will be published in March, 2018.

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