Manson Family Member’s Parole Hopes Terminated by Schwarzenegger

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has rejected the recommendation of the parole board that an imprisoned former Charles Manson follower should be set free.

Bruce Davis, 67, is serving two life sentences for his roles in the killing of musician Gary Hinman and former stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, in 1969. Davis was not involved in the most notorious of the crimes perpetrated by Manson family members, the slaying of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in the Los Angeles area.

In January, the state parole board recommended that Davis be released, citing his participation in all available education, vocation and self-help programs, as well as the fact that he has exhibited exemplary behavior and has remained discipline-free since 1980. Davis had been repeatedly considered for parole, but denied, as had many of the disciples of Charles Manson and Manson himself. In fact, this was the 26th parole suitability hearing for Davis.

Governor Schwarzenegger, however, recently released a letter stating that since Davis’s crimes were “especially heinous,” the elderly man should remain in state custody. Davis is being held at the California Men’s Colony

“I believe his release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time,” read Schwarzenegger’s letter. He did acknowledge that Davis has made “some credible gains” while incarcerated, but also said that he had repeatedly tried to minimize his involvement in the slayings of Hinman and Shea.

Additionally, Shea’s involvement with the American Nazi Party after he went to prison in 1972, and statements he made to the effect that if released, he would be subservient to his wife, gave the governor pause.

“Davis still exhibits conformist tendencies,” said Schwarzenegger.

While in prison, Davis earned his master’s degree in religion and a doctorate in philosophy of religion. He also married and fathered a daughter, who is now a teenager. He has previously stated that if released from confinement, he plans to live with his family in Grover Beach and look for work as a landscaper, as well as to get involved with a church.

His attorney, Michael Beckman of Santa Monica, said that he will appeal the governor’s decision, which he claims is invalid given the recommendations by the parole board and a board-appointed psychiatrist to release Davis.

“He doesn’t pose a public danger,” said Beckman. “It’s a political calculation rather than an individual consideration.”

Charles Manson, whose followers committed the infamous crimes in the late 1960s, remains incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison in Kings County, California. He is next eligible for parole in 2012.

 

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