Manson Follower Susan Atkins Seeks Parole


A terminally ill member of the former so-called “Manson family” is up for parole for the 13th time. Susan Atkins, 61, was initially sentenced to death for her role in the vicious slayings of seven people in August 1969, which were perpetrated by followers of Charles Manson. In 1972, however, when the Supreme Court struck down the nation’s death penalty laws, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.Atkins is infamous for having stabbed to death actress Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski, and for scrawling the word “pig” in blood on the door of their home. Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time of the slaying, was stabbed 16 times despite her pleas for mercy on behalf of her unborn child.

California’s longest-serving female inmate, Atkins has previously been denied parole 12 times. The Board of Parole Hearings also unanimously denied a request for “compassionate release,” which is made by terminally ill prisoners who want to be released in order to die outside of prison. Atkins was diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2008 and, according to her husband and attorney, James Whitehouse, is now paralyzed in over 85 percent of her body.

Because she cannot sit up in bed or be moved to a wheelchair, there is a possibility that the parole hearing could be held at Atkins’s bedside. If the panel opts to grant parole to Atkins, the matter will go through a 120-day review process by the California Board of Parole Hearings, and then to the governor’s office. The governor will then have several options, including allowing the decision to stand, actively approving it, modifying it or reversing it.

If the panel does not grant parole, another parole hearing will be set in three, five, seven, 10 or 15 years, at the panel’s discretion.

Atkins has accepted responsibility for her role in the massacre, and has admitted that she showed no mercy to Tate. She has also been described as a model prisoner. Nevertheless, wrote Whitehouse on his Web site, “there is still a very real chance the Parole Board will…insist her release would be a danger to society.”

Atkins’s name within the Mason family was Sadie Mae Glutz. Manson, now 74, remains in California State Prison in Corcoran. Another member of the “family,” Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, was released from prison in August after serving time for having pointed a gun at then-president Gerald Ford.


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