Her 18th to be exact.
Atkins has brain cancer and is reportedly suffering from paralysis in 85% of her body and completely bedridden, without aid of even a wheelchair. She requested, and was denied, compassionate release last summer - - nearly 40 years after committing what could be the most notorious U.S. murders in history.
The man who prosecuted her, Vincent Bugliosi, stated prior to the hearing (which I assume took place yesterday, as scheduled) that he would support Atkins' parole application. Bugliosi said "She has paid substantially, though not completely for her horrendous crimes. To pay completely would have meant imposing the death penalty.” He also felt the release of Atkins would “save the state money” as far as the cost of her daily medical care goes - - which is believed to be in excess of $1,000.
I recently read a comment here on an earlier post about Atkins from someone who claims to have met Atkins within the last 2 years. This person does not excuse Atkins' crimes, but claims that Atkins has changed her life and spent the last 40 years attempting to make up for her crimes and if you met her in person, you would never know what she had done back in 1969.
While that may be true, and Atkins may have been a model prisoner for the last 40 years, I still cannot erase the images I have of what Atkins did. Read the book Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders, paying special attention to the chapters on the crimes themselves. Imagine being in Sharon Tate's shoes, watching your friends hacked to death, killed in an unbelievably brutal way, begging for your life and your unborn child's and then being forced to wait and watch as your killers debated your fate in front of you before deciding they had no mercy for you or your child and stab you to death. There is no word evil or cruel enough to describe what kind of torture that must have been.
I hope that Atkins has changed her life. I hope that Atkins found some type of rehabilitation in prison. But that doesn't mean that I believe she should be free to walk or roll or be wheeled out the prison doors. Her victims don't get to walk out of their graves and rejoin their families. Who knows exactly what Atkins and her former "Family" members destroyed back in 1969. They most definitely took 8 human lives, including one unborn child. But who is to say that unborn child wouldn't have grown up to become a doctor and discover the cure for cancer? (A stretch, I know, but go with the principal) Who is to say that Sharon Tate wouldn't have gone on to become an award-winning actress? Who is to say that Steven Parent wouldn't have gone on to author incredibly well-written books, or invented something to have changed the world? We just don't know and never will.
Anyhow, back to Atkins, Bugliosi and the parole hearing. I respect Vincent Bugliosi tremendously. The man is a well-respected and gifted attorney. But I'm not sure I agree with him. Yes, you can argue that Atkins is no longer a risk to society if she is paralyzed over 85% of her body and bedridden. I'm not worried that she's a threat. I'm worried that if Atkins is paroled, how long before Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles Watson apply for release? They have already vowed to step up their campaigns. Watson is an ordained minister - - you just know he will have supporters or members of his congregation there to state that a minister certainly isn't a threat to society. (Even ones that at one time sliced a pregnant woman open?)
Debra Tate, youngest sister of Sharon Tate, and sole surviving Tate family member, is outraged that Atkins has garnered any support, much less that of Bugliosi. “The Manson Family are sociopaths who can never be rehabilitated. I am incredulous that anyone could condone the release of any of them. “Has everyone forgotten the sheer barbarity of their actions and the sheer evil of their intent? The seven murders they committed were so vicious, so inhumane and so depraved that there can be no turning back.” Amen, sister.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has indicated that he would oppose all parole attempts by the Manson family killers and possibly even go as far as vetoing parole board decisions. However, the huge financial burden California is currently under, as well as the new liberal administration, may sway Schwarzenegger's thinking.
I will continue to update my blog on these stories as they are reported.