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July 17, 2008

Susan Atkins Denied Release

It is a sad story all around but it just had to be this way. Susan Atkins was denied release from prison in her bid to go home because she is terminally ill. Prisons that have less than six months to live are often granted early release by the California Board of Parole. However, this time, the board has opted to deny the early release even though Atkins is dying.

Atkins participated in the Manson family murders. She stabbed pregnant Sharon Tate in the stomach 16 times. She was convicted in five 1969 murders that rocked California with their brutality. She was a Charles Manson follower but ahs since turned her life around in prison. It is reported that she has done plenty of work with trouble youth and is very religious. She has a brain cancer and can barely speak, they say and she is bed ridden.

It hurts to know that she will have to die in prison but she just as to. She has repented and tried to reverse the mark she will leave on the world and for that I commend her. But there is still the thought of stabbing a pregnant woman in the stomach 16 times that I can not get over. I can not get around those heinous crimes, committed years before I was born, that still scare me. How badly does a pregnant woman beg for her unborn child’s life? I can’t imagine the extent of pleading that was made.

I do feel great compassion for Susan Atkins and her circumstances. However, I feel more compassion for the five murder victims that Atkins decided did not need to live anymore. It is a very bold move to decide whether or not someone should live or not. Atkins has lived to 60 and now her body has acquired a disease that will take her life. No one stole her life from her.

It is also important to remember that Atkins has already been shown mercy. The overturning of the California death penalty prevented her from being executed. The current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that he did not believe in compassionate release. While that may sound cold, I mean, honestly, it makes sense. The state of California has taken care of Atkins for decades. Yes she was incarcerated she was still able to live and was taken care of. Somehow, Atkins was even able to get married to James Whitehouse, her attorney.

Very few prisoners receive compassionate release from prison. No matter how sick they are courts are reluctant to grant such request. When there are family members of the victims still living and suffering their eternal loss, it is hard to justify compassionate releases. Of the 60 requests for compassionate releases, only ten of them were approved. Even if violent criminals change their lives it is hard for society to see them on the streets again. It doesn’t matter if they are bedridden and on their deathbed. People don’t forget crimes like the ones that Susan Atkins confessed to.

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