Tuesday, November 9, 2021
SUBSEQUENT PAROLE CONSIDERATION HEARING
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS
In the matter of the Life Term Parole Consideration Hearing of:
LESLIE VAN HOUTEN
CDC Number: W-13378
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN
NOVEMBER 9, 2021
MARY THORNTON, Presiding Commissioner
ROSALIO CASTRO, Deputy Commissioner
LESLIE VAN HOUTEN, Inmate
RICH PFEIFFER, Attorney for Inmate
STEVE MAHONEY, Observer
DEBORAH TATE, Leno LaBianca's Representative
ANTHONY DIMARIA, LaBianca Family's Representative
LOU SMALDINO, Leno And Rosemary LaBianca's Representative
KAYE HINMAN-MARTLEY, Deborah Tate's Support Person
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. We're on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We're on the record. Today is November 9th, 2021. The time is now — The time is now 8:49 a.m. This is a subsequent parole suitability hearing for Leslie Van Houten, CDCR number W13378, who is present in the BPH hearing room at the California Institute for Women in Corona, California. We are conducting this hearing by video conference. Ms. Van Houten, can you hear and see me? Ms. Van Houten, can you hear and see me?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'm sorry. What?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Can you hear and see me?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I can.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Are there — Are the squares bouncing around on your screen?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, they're-they're stable. The ringing of something threw me off.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Someone-someone had a phone ringing. So, um, I'll just ask everyone to monitor and keep your microphones muted if you're not speaking, so we can make sure there's not any background distractions. So, if at any time you aren't able to hear us, please let me know, so we can pause and make the necessary adjustments. For the record, I can see and hear you. Deputy Commissioner, can you also see and hear Ms. Van Houten?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yes, I can.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, the last time you appeared before the Board was on July 23rd, 2020. At that time, you received a grant of parole. And you do know that that grant was reversed, and this is your 23rd subsequent hearing. Looking at the file, we see that you did commit your controlling offense while under the age of 26, so the Panel will give great weight to the youthful offender factors in deciding your suitability for parole. We also see that you are now over age 60, you have served at least 25 years. That does qualify you for elderly parole consideration. So, the Panel will give special consideration to the elderly parole factors in deciding your suitability for parole. This hearing is being audio recorded and will be transcribed. So, for the purpose of voice identification, we'll each identify ourselves. While Ms. Van Houten is participating from the institution, all other participants are participating remotely. I will identify each person. And when I do, that person is asked to state their full name and spell the last name. I'll go first. My name is Mary Thornton, T-H-O-R-N-T-O-N, Commissioner. Would the Deputy Commissioner, please by himself?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Rosalio Castro, C-A-S- T-R-O, Deputy Commissioner.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. Ms. Van Houten, can I ask you to please identify yourself, spell your last name and give us your CDC number?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, Leslie Van Houten, capital VAN A-N, capital H-O-U-T-E-N, W13378.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. And can we have Ms. Van Houten's Attorney, please identify himself?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Thank you. Rich Pfeiffer, P-F-E- I-F-F-E-R, Ms. Van Houten's Attorney.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We'll note for the record that we do not have a participant from the Los Angeles County D.A.'s office participating in the hearing today. We do have an observer. Can I have that person please identify himself?
OBSERVER MAHONEY: Yeah. Steven Mahoney, M-A-H-O-N- E-Y, Associate Chief Deputy Commissioner with the Board of Parole Hearings, observing only.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. And we do have some victim's family members participating. Can I first have the two family members identify themselves? Okay. I see Deborah. I saw you're mouthing moving, but you're muted, so please make sure you unmute.
MS. TATE: So sorry. Please forgive me. Uh, I am a representative from the, uh, Lu-, uh, excuse me, from Leno LaBianca family, um, my name is Deborah Tate, last name is spelled T-A-T-E.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I missed the beginning of your name. Can I have you repeat your full name?
MS. TATE: Deborah Tate.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay, thank you. And next?
MR. SMALDINO: Uh, Lou Smaldino, S-M-A-L-D-I-N-O, representative of Leno and Rosemary.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: And then we have two other representatives today. Can I have them please identify themselves?
MR. DIMARIA: Anthony DiMaria, uh, D-I, capital M-A-R-I-A, LaBianca family representative.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: And then we also have one more representative. Can I have that person, please identify herself?
MS. HINMAN-MARTLEY: Kaye Hinman-Martley, H-I-N-M-A-N, capital M-A-R-T-L- E-Y, support person for Deborah Tate.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Is there anyone else who is present who has not been identified? I do not hear anyone else. Ms. Van Houten, were you able to hear all the participants who identify themselves?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I was.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. As I mentioned, this proceeding is being recorded as mandated by Penal Code Section 3042, Subsection B, and it will be transcribed as the official record of this hearing. No other recordings are authorized, including the recording available by video conference software. A violation of this provision may result in exclusion from this or future hearings. We're now going to take a brief break to check the quality of the recording and to make sure that each party can be heard. We'll now go off the record. The time is 8:55 a.m.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We're back on the record, it's still 8:55 a.m. A sound check was performed and was satisfactory. So, we do need to do a review under the Americans with Disabilities Act to make sure that you can fully participate in and benefit from the hearing today. We have reviewed our DECS database, as well as your form 1073. According to those records, you need glasses. Did you bring your glasses with you today?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I did. They're right here.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. I see you holding those up. Are there any other accommodation that you normally get? Any type of cane, walker, brace, insert, a boot, shoe, anything like that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: No?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Looking at your education, it looks like you did get a high school diploma. Was that in 1967?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, it was.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Have you ever been a part of the Mental Health System at CDCR? In other words, CCCMS, EOP or DDP?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, I have not.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Are you on any kind of medications? You don't need to tell us which medications, just if you're on any medications.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I'm, um, taking, uh, calcium. Oh, do you want me to tell you?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: No. We don't need to know which — I just need to know, if the medications you're on, do they make it difficult to either hear us, understand us or to interact with us in any way?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh, no, no.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Counsel, does your client require any other reasonable accommodations for the hearing today?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: No. All of the accommodations have been met. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Based on the answers to these questions and the information we have, the Panel does not see a reason why this hearing cannot be held today. So, we did have a discussion prior to going on the record to check on documents. We noted that the 10-day file originally had 143 pages that's since been added to, and we believe it's now over 200 pages. And we did check with Ms. Van Houten and said she did not have any additional documents with her today. Is that correct?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: And, Ms. Van Houten, we're not here today to reconsider the findings of the trial and appellate courts, nor are we here to retry your case. This Panel does accept as true the findings of the courts. The purpose of today's hearing is to find out who you are today and to find out whether you would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society if you're released. We will consider many factors, including your criminal history, your behavior and your programming since you came to prison, your parole plans if released and the testimony today. During this hearing, we may not ask you about every factor listed in the regulations, but we have reviewed your central file, and you may talk about those topics when you give your closing statement. After the Panel has asked you our questions, your Attorney will have a chance to ask clarifying questions. Those are questions that would clarify information for the Panel. After those questions, we'll have closing statements. Your Attorney will have 10 minutes to provide a closing statement. And after his closing statement, you may also make a closing statement. Lastly, pursuant to Marsy's Law, the victims' next of kin and representatives will be invited to make victim impact statements. It is our expectation that all parties to this hearing will treat one another with dignity and respect. Counsel, will your client be testifying on all matters today?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Yes, she will.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Ms. Van Houten, I strongly encourage you to be completely honest with us today. Can I have you go ahead and raise your right hand? Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you give at this hearing will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I do.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. So, looking at the record, I see that your date of birth is August 23rd, 1949, that you're now 72 years old, that you were 19 at the time of this crime, and you’ve been in CDCR custody for 43 years, though I do note it looks like that you must've been in county jail for a number of years prior to that. Is that right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I had, um, eight years that I was here-here, and then when I was, um — received a second trial, you know, it became — added on to the 40 years, 43 years.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I was assuming there was something like that because the dates we see it had the 43. And so, that makes sense to me. So, this Panel has reviewed your central file and the Comprehensive Risk Assessment. You're encouraged to correct or clarify the record as we go through this hearing. We have also reviewed the confidential portion of your central file, and we will advise you in accordance to Title 15 if any portion of that will be used. I just — I was hearing some popping sounds. Um, I think, Anthony, (Unintelligible) your connection. Can you please mute because I'm getting a little bit of a sound from that, your connection?
MR. DIMARIA: Oh, um, can you hear me?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I can, I can hear you now. If I mute you, I cannot. If I mute you — So, I hate to do that because then if you don't know how to unmute, you won't be able to, um —
MR. DIMARIA: No, I can. I just, I don't know what the popping would've been.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I'm not sure. It was some kind of electronic popping sound. At least that's what I heard. Um, I'm still showing you're not muted. Do you know how to mute your microphone?
MR. DIMARIA: I do.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay, there you go. Okay, thank you. So, your most recent Comprehensive Risk Assessment, Ms. Van Houten, was authored by Dr. Meyers. That was approved by the Forensic Assessment Division on September 15th, 2021. That report says that you spoke with the doctor on August 18th, 2021. Have you had the chance to read that assessment?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I have.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: After having read it, did you find any mistakes or errors in that report?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, there was one area that, um, I had a concern about.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Do you have your copy with you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I do. Let me get it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. If you can look and tell us what page, so we can refer to that.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That was (Unintelligible). It's on page 8, and, um, she is, um — we're talking about the circles that we would have with Manson and when he was, um, talking to us while we were on LSD. And, um, I — It says, um, "For example, when she," meaning me, "saw him adopt a confrontational expression, she soothed him," and, um, I never soothed Manson. And —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Can you tell me (Unintelligible), just so I can make sure I find (Unintelligible).
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's-it's the, probably — It starts, the paragraph starts with, "In October, 1968". It's about —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, the second, the second to the last line says, "For —"
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, the sentence starts, "For example, when she saw him adopt a confrontational expression, she soothed him." "I would be like, 'It's all okay.'"
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. And I never soothed Manson. What I, what the conversation was, was that I would, um, be very complacent and not want his attention.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: And so, the quote that she, the, um, CRA clinician has there, that you would say, "I would be like, 'it's all okay.'" So, is that something that (Unintelligible) —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. That-that's fine. It's just that —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you said —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: The words —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: (Unintelligible) you said that, you would not characterize that as trying to soothe him?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, but I was trying to, um, hope that his eyes went somewhere else at that point.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. And the sentence above does note, it says, you said you dealt with his aggression by remaining complacent and compliant. So, you believe that's a more...
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: ...accurate reflection.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Anything else in here that you'd like to call our attention to you or you believe is not correct?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, there's-there's just a few, um, areas where the sequence was a little different, like I had, um, um — I'm not sure that they're of, you know, heavy relevance, but the, um, on page 3, under relationships, the second paragraph, it says, "After moving to her father's," I met, um, Robert Beausoleil. Well, I met him when I left my dad's, but it's just sequential. It, you know — The information is, uh, just a few things are out of con-, you know, out of context.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. And you said you didn't think any of those were really relevant or of any consequence?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, not in the overall, um, effect. You know, they're minor compared to my crime.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, let me —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And-and-and — Anyway, I'm sure we'll talk about it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, if we get on the topic that relates to one of these things where you think there's a minor, um, sequence ordering issue that you want to call our attention to, while we're on that topic, then you can bring it up. All right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Yes, I will.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Also, near the end of the hearing, I do ask if there's anything else you want to talk to us about the CRA, that's your chance. If we get towards the end and you think there's something else in the CRA that you haven't addressed, then you will be able to address at that time. All right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, as I mentioned already, you were granted last year, and the Governor reversed your grant. And did you read the Governor's reversal letter? Oh, you know what? I do see —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Yes, I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I see your attorney, Mr. Pfeiffer, raising his hand. We normally don't monitor the chat-and-raise hand function, but I wanted to see what your attorney wants. Mr. Pfeiffer, did you want to say something?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Yes. I just, I just want the Panel to recognize, I just saw Ms. Tate, it looked like she leaned over and spoke to somebody, which makes me think somebody else might be in the room, but I couldn't see what was off the screen, but, um, she did lean over and look in one direction. I don't know.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Let me just clarify. Ms. Tate, is anyone there with you? Oh, you're muted. You're muted. Make sure you unmute. I think she's looking at her computer to figure out their — Okay, there we go.
MS. TATE: Okay. My battery said it was low, and I reached over and got my plug so I could plug it into the wall. There is no one in the room with me, whatsoever.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Okay. Um, you know what? We're going to go off the record at this point. The Panel does want to discuss something before we proceed. We're going to go off the record. It's 9:07 a.m. We'll ask everyone just to stay here and we'll be back shortly.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: We're back on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Back on the record. It's 9:41 a.m. The Panel had some questions about the participation of the different people today. So, we took a break to kind of figure this out. So, um, after the Panel having some discussion and then also discussing with the participants, um, we determined that Mr. Lou Smaldino is the nephew of Leno, uh, LaBianca. And so, he is participating as a victim's family member, in that capacity today, as the —
MS. TATE: Excuse me, Commissioner, may I speak for one moment? I need to make, for the record, uh, a violation under Marsy's Law. I've got it pulled up in front of me, and Mr. Smaldino as next of kin is allowed two representatives per victim. There is Rosemary LaBianca and Leno LaBianca. And to address Mr. Pfeiffer, Victim Services has all that paperwork. After it leaves our hands and how the trail goes, I'm not sure, but it is not for, uh, any fault of anybody in this room (Unintelligible). So, I suppose you would have to address your issue with Sacramento.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
MS. TATE: Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Let me finish, let me finish my clarification and, uh —
MS. TATE: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, it was our understanding that Lou Smaldino is the nephew of Leno LaBianca. So, his participation is as a victim's family member from that victim, and that-that was, uh — and Mr. LaBianca was a victim in this case. And that, um, he would be allowed to have two representatives as a victim's family number. And so, he does have Anthony DiMaria — DiMaria already noted in our paperwork as representative for him. Um, and then on our — before we came back on, he said he would designate Deborah Tate as an additional representative for him. Um, it was the Panel's understanding that there was only to be two representatives for each victim's family member. Um, Ms. Tate said that it's her understanding that's per victim. Um, we were concerned about Ms. Kaye, um, Martley's participation as a representative. We know — We weren't sure that there would be an allowance for an extra representative, and, um, instead suggested that she would be a support person, and Mr. Smaldino said that she could be a support person from him. We want to get clarification on this number though, um, and not go forward until we have clarification. So, let's go off the record again so the Panel can make sure that we're clear on that. We'll go off. It's 9:43 a.m.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: We're back on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We're back on the record, it's 9:49 a.m. So, we did want to clarify the role of the different participants today. So, um, Lou Smaldino is the nephew of one of the victims in this case. Um, he is allowed to participate under section 3043. On a case by case basis, that level of connection as a nephew, um, if approved by the Board and the Office of Victim Services, so, um, this Panel will be allowing his participation. And each victim's family member is allowed two representatives to participate. So, we do have down Anthony DiMaria and Deborah Tate functioning in that role today. Both of them will be allowed to make statements. Um, Kaye Martley will be designated as a support person. Um, as a support person, she will not be allowed to make statements, but she will be allowed to, um, attend the hearing. Um, Mr. Pfeiffer, do you have any objections based on that designation?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Um, Commissioner, I do. And, um, 30, uh, 42 — or 3043B-2 two requires that, um, any designation of representative shall be designated in writing for the particular hearing before the hearing. And unless they have done that correctly, um, I just would like to object, and I understand you're probably going to overrule that. I just want to make the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. And we will overrule that objection. We know the other offices do, um, take care of that function for us, and so we'll overrule that objection.
MR. SMALDINO: Uh, just a point of interest. Uh, I did make that designation, uh, with, uh, Katie James at the, uh, the Bureau.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Smaldino. Okay. I think we have all that straightened out. Um, let's proceed. So, I think before we started, um, this side conversation here, Ms. Van Houten, we were talking about the Governor's reversal letter. Did you read the reversal letter?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Your sound was a little bit delayed there. Um, I'm hoping it's working okay. Can you say something again just so I can see if it's continuing to play?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Yes, I did read it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. It's not matching your...
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I read it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: ...video. It's not matching up for me. Mr. Castro, is it the same for you?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: No. It's like a Japanese karate movie.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: It's-it's got this really delayed function. When you see it, and then like a second and a half later, we hear the sound.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yeah.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: It's going to be hard to have a conversation like that. So, officer, I don't — We may have to have you, um...
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Reboot.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: ...restart, reboot because I've had that happen before. And if you do that, usually it syncs up again. So, I'm sorry for another delay. But, officer, can you have it either reset or restart just so we can get the sound synced up?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Disconnect. Leave the, leave the meeting and then come back.
UNIDENTIFIED: Okay. So, what I'll do is I'll-I'll log off...
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED: ...and then I'll log back in?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED: Okay, thank you. Okay.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And we're still on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Hopefully it'll be very quick. Okay. I just let the institution back in. Let's see. Can we have you say something, Ms. Van Houten, so if we can see for matching up?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Yes, yes.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, am I good?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Yes.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Your sound is matching up pretty good, thankfully. Okay. It looks like we're ready to go. Okay. So, back to the Governor's reversal letter. Did you have the chance to read that letter?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: The Governor had some concerns, and so I want to go through those concerns with you. So, looking on page 3 of 4 of his letter, he says that your explanation — this is from the last hearing, your explanation of what allowed you to be vulnerable to Mr. Manson's influence remains unsatisfying. Um, so, you talked about, you know, your parents being divorced, having a forced abortion, um, being a weak person, um, the Governor says he's unconvinced that these factors adequately explained your eagerness to submit to a dangerous cult leader or your desire to please him. Um, so, since that time of getting that letter, have you done any, um, thinking or anything that would kind of address that concern or anything that you can tell us in that regards?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I, um, decided after getting the reversal that I, uh, resigned from the Advisory Council, and I became a participant in the ISUDT program. And, um, a lot of the ISUDT program has been focusing on what for me was my early years of, uh, the drug use and who I was, revisiting it. And, um, you know, I have been getting to the point where I can — not just remember who I was, but also feel who I was at those ages. And, um, so, I gave it a great deal of thought. I also was able to read this article that was in the New Yorker that had to do with, um, cults. It was a book review. And, um, one of the men that they quoted had a lot to do with that people, first of all, it was not represented as a cult. And in the beginning, when I ended up there, I, um, was welcomed, and it was very inviting. And the philosophy was of, um, similar to the hippie movement of, um, seeking a sense of my truer self, you know, Timothy Leary's like Tuned In, Turned On and Drop Out. And over time, it evolved into the, um, violent cult that it was, and I'm losing my — I'm covering too much. So, I spent a lot of time remembering who I was when I was at — standing in and Carl and the Haight-Ashbury District. I-I — After the abortion, I went to my father — Let me start there. I went to my father's house, and, um, I lived under him in a condo, in a duplex, and I went to business school because I was going to, uh, join a (Unintelligible) Ashlam when I finished the business school. Halfway through, which would have been around Christmas time, that was a year mark of the abortion, I, once again, connected with my old Pasadena friends. I tried to see if my boyfriend was still around, and he wasn't. He had gone on with his life. And I reconnected with my, um, Pasadena friends that were involved in drugs. The minute I graduated the business school, I went to Victorville with some of my friends from Pasadena. I did not stay at my dad's and get a job. I didn't have it together enough to have viable goals for the rest of my life. I was, um, still very angry at my mother. My dad was involved with his second wife, and, um, I set out on my own. I was a, um, individual that was, uh, not prepared at all for the world. And at Victorville, I reconnected with a friend of mine named Dee, and she had a baby. And of course, I was loving having the child around, right? Because I was still mourning my mom's, uh, adamancy of the abortion. And, um, she was going to go back up to San Francisco to spend time with her husband, and she and her husband were having a lot of problems. So, that sets the stage for my meeting, Robert Beausoleil Catherine Share, and I was staying with them. Duncan, the husband, really didn't want me around. I was in the way. They were miserable together. And, um, I was uncomfortable. I didn't have anything left. I had pretty much spent what money I had from — I don't even know where I would've gotten it, probably from dad when I first left him. And, um, Dee went out one night, and when she came back, she came back with Robert Beausoleil and Catherine Share and a woman named Gail. And they said that they were from a commune (Unintelligible) that was very loving, and, um, I was welcomed if, um, I dropped out. So, I called my mom and told her. And, um, I was without direction. I had no sense of how I would take care of myself. I felt alone. My mom had wanted us to reconnect as if losing my baby meant nothing, that it was sort of like — for her, it was, "Okay, that problem's over," and it was much deeper for me. I was very, very close to my dad. When my dad left, he had told me before her, and that put a lot of distance between mom and I. And, um, when I originally got with my boyfriend at 15, you know, I was looking for someone to be able to love. I was looking for, uh, my own sense of belonging. I blamed my mom for my dad leaving because she, uh, never really encouraged him in his AA or, you know, she wasn't supportive of him in my mind. And —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Let me, let me just stop you here. I don't know that I'm looking for the-the level of detail you're going into.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I kind of really want, um, I kind of want to make you more focused. And so, the Governor's concerns about you being vulnerable to Mr. Manson's influence. And so, what I'm hearing you say — So, let me kind of clarify what I'm hearing from you, is that you were putting your life, or you weren't really prepared to go out in the world and you had the issues with your parents' divorce and the abortion where your role had been disrupted and you were without direction, feeling alone, trying to figure-figure out where you could fit in. And initially, you hear about this commune. It's initial appeal was loving and, um, kind of more positive, you were welcomed in. So, it sounds like the initial entry into your life was kind of from that perspective. Am I understanding that correctly?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, yes. I, um, I was in an all- time low and bottom when I was told about this. And then what happened was, um, Robert Beausoleil and Catherine Share and Gail and I were, um, traveling up and down the coast for a couple of months when, um, Catherine kept talking about this wonderful place in LA and this man who knew everything and was Christ-like was there and that she really wanted me to come with her, and I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, that was one of the Governor's concerns about how you were vulnerable. It sounds like you were in a very vulnerable spot in your life. Then when you met him, it doesn't sound like the initial, um, your initial impressions of that group was a negative. It sounds like, initially, it was more like you described it as this hippie philosophy where it was inviting, you're encouraged to be your true self. So, um, how long were you there before things started to turn more negative or violent?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Probably close to five or six months. It was in the winter of '69 that it began to, you know, like around, probably, I'm guessing that I would say somewhere around January. December, January.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. And so —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We-we-we — Some of us had been up in the desert, and — when he came up. He had a different philosophy. And he, up until then, you know, our whole idea was to become one with each other, and his talks were always about us giving up our personalities and shedding those institutions we had been raised on. And that, at — in the beginning, that fell into this idea of living an alternative lifestyle.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. And so, you said he came with a different philosophy, and it sounds like that was the more —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: (Unintelligible). I can't understand you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: You said, at some point in the winter, he had a —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's-it's — You're coming in and out.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Let me turn off my —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'm losing you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Is my video or my audio stronger if I turn off the video? Does that sound better?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No. Now I can't see you, and, um, you're, um, moving in and out.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: When I turn off my video, sometimes it'll make the audio stronger, so that's why it turned off the video. It didn't — Can you hear me now?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I can't — Yeah. I can't understand you.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Commissioner, I can understand you just fine.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: I can — Yeah. We can hear you fine.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Everything's-everything's sloppy.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yeah. It's on there. It's the institution's end.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: It's the institution's end. So, there's some kind of issue with the connection there if you're having trouble with all of us. Um, is it still the same?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. It's — Please say something again?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: One, two, three, four.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, it's —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: If we can have, uh —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah, I can't (Unintelligible) —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have Leticia log on and off again.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. We're going to have to (Unintelligible) log on and off again. Maybe the-the connection is bad. So, we'll just, we'll just pause and, um, wait for them to do that.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Okay.
MR. DIMARIA: Commissioner?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Who's that?
MR. DIMARIA: It's Anthony DiMaria. I have a question. Um, I also am getting a lot of glitch and feedback. Should I turn my computer off and turn it back on and re-log in, or should I stay on?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: If you want to try doing that, you can do that now while the prison's also doing it.
MR. DIMARIA: Okay. But, uh, I won't lose it if I'm, uh, if I do that, correct? I'll just go back to my email and go ahead and —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: You should — As soon as we see you in the lobby again, we'll let you back in.
MR. DIMARIA: Great. Thank you.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Should we go off record?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Yeah. Why don't we go in — go off. It's 10:17 a.m.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: We are back on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: We're back on the record. It's 10:35 a.m. So. we had some sound issues. We tried numerous things. It looks like we're back to where we were, but it seems to be working okay. So, Ms. Van Houten, if at any time there are issues with you understanding us, please do exactly what you did and let us know and we'll do whatever you need to make sure that we can hear you and you can hear us. So, I kind of want to jump to — It sounds like your explanation is that, at the time, you first, um, became aware of Mr. Manson's group, you were in a place in your life, you're kind of looking to fit in, you're looking for something, you're trying to figure life out as a young adult. When things started turning negative, why were you still interested in being a part of that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: By that time, I was part of the group. I was feeling obligated to him. I believed through things that he said and did that he was a second coming of Christ, and that he saw things other people didn't see. Um, at the ranch, we all contributed to, um, his philosophy. In other words, after we would take an LSD trip, instead of grounding ourselves, we would keep the language going up. If people said something that would sound like they missed their parents, like, I remember one time I did, and I would be mocked, you know? We kept, we kept the, um, ideas that he presented, um, going amongst ourselves. So, when it changed, I did not see it as, um, something to move away from but to understand was my responsibility to be with him and be someone that adhere to his belief systems. Because quite frankly, I believe he was a reincarnation.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you thought he was the second coming of Christ. So, did you feel like there was some kind of spiritual dimension, like you wouldn't lose your salvation or you wouldn't make it to heaven? I mean, do you kind of have some of those more internal concerns? Like, "Oh, well, if I don't do this, I know I'm going to miss out, eternally," or maybe — Was that any of, any of it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. It-it, um, when we were at Gresham, which is a house that was on a street in Claremont — I'm — Not Claremont, I'm sorry. In Chatsworth. Um, we were listening to the White Album all the time, and, um, I would — he would ask me to read to him from Revelations, and he believed that the Beatles were the Four Horsemen and that the album was sending him messages, and so it was connected to our, um, spirituality that-that we were obl-, yeah, we were destined to see through what he felt, um, needed to happen, you know?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So-so, you know, the drug use, and then this feeling that there was some kind of religious, spiritual connection going on, that you guys were a part of, that other people weren't, I'm assuming that kind of fit into a thing, like, "Why do I have to stay here," and kind of fall through with this?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. And, you know, they didn't have the word "cult" back then, but, you know, we-we lived a life that's pretty classic on what negative cults and, uh, being, you know — like at Gresham, part of the thing is to keep the person that is a member, um, needing acceptance, needing, um, uh, to be validated. And part of the thing was the — also like pulling the rug out all the time from under me, you know, or all of us, really. Like one time, uh, I was, uh, told to, you know, be naked and play a guitar in front of everyone and sing, and I-I didn't have any of those skills, and that's part of the whole stripping and needing to be affirmed and not being affirmed. And so, I was, um, very engaged in it. And at one point, I became exhausted when we went back to the ranch. By then, we were all trying to, uh, sneak up on each other and do all these things to prepare for the war that was to come. And, um, I was exhausted and I told him that I-I just couldn't do it anymore. And at that point, he drove me up to a cliff, um, told me to jump, because to leave him was to die anyway. So, I didn't have any tools to think while I need to get out of here.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, let me, let me ask you a couple of questions on something you said. You said that, um, him asking you to play the guitar naked, you said there was like a stripping. Do you mean, like — Was it, was it also like stripping of yourself or your personality, I mean, or your individuality? It sounds like that's what you were describing, but I wasn't sure if that's what you meant.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. Usually, when we would take the LSD in the, um, group, we were all naked. No identity, no — That was part of the deal.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you described that even though the word "cult" wasn't used or kind of thought of back then, there was a lot of those kind of, um, techniques it sounds like used, um, keeping people where they need acceptance and validation, kind of shifting, they're-they're pulling the rug out, as you described it. Stripping of the self, no identity, um, kind of keeping you in that state. Um, and when he said to you, um, "Jump off a cliff. To leave is to —" you know — What was — I'm not sure. You said some kind of, to leave, to leave was to do what?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: To die, that I would die, so I may as well jump off now.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, when he made that kind of comment to you, were you feeling like personally threatened or afraid? I mean, how did that strike you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I felt like I meant something to him that, you know, he would say that, and I believed it was an affirmation of things to come in the future, you know?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: I'm assuming for him to make something, a statement like that also kind of has some connotations of biblical kind of action. So, I'm — It sounds like that would probably reinforce some of the ideas you may have had at the time about him being the second coming of Christ.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you used the word "obligation" earlier, and I saw that in some of your writings, as well as in, um, prior, um, hearing. And so, when I think about the word "obligation," to me, I think about the amount I feel obligated is usually, you know, in direct comparison to what I'm given. So, I mean, if you, if you hold the door open for someone, it's a very small obligation, you say thank you. If it's something bigger, you owe more. So, this was — It sounds like this was a huge obligation. So, what did, what was the — in the balance there that the obligation was that great. What were, what were you given that was balancing that out? Does that make sense?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. That-that I was in the presence of Christ, and what he needed to be done, I was obligated to do. That I was, um, um, sort of — Well, like a disciple to use — you know?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: That's what you thought of yourself at that time?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, maybe not that clearly and in those words. But today, that's like the closest word, right? That there were a number of us that were with him, and it was starting to symbolically look like that, that we owed him, we owed him because, um, of who he was.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, it was because of who he was and not any particular thing he did for you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, he let us be near him, I suppose. I hadn't really — It's hard to look back and think back on what Manson gave me, to be honest with you, but certainly, he gave me a place to be, right?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. One of the other things the Governor's letter talks about is about inconsistent statements that you made describing the murder. So, there's this description about you saying it was horrible and predatory versus you telling us another follower that it was fun. So, there are these conflicting statements. So, can you address that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Um, he would say to us that everything was fun, that we all have to be prepared to be in battle, that every night there would be another crime. When I was in the house, I was not, um, able to handle it the way that I thought that I should have, but with the group, I needed to, um, present myself differently, particularly with Dianne Lake, because he always held Dianne of — as a model of what a woman should be like. And, um, so, I was seeing it in bravado. And quite frankly, I don't remember the exact words I used, but it's something that would — I would have said.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, when you say something you would have said, you're talking about describing it as, quote-unquote, "fun"? That would've been something you said in bravado to other members?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, that's-that's — Dianne said that I said that. And so, I'm, you know, I'm not going to argue about that.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, it sounds like —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I would've, I would've, I would've talked differently. I would have, I would have made myself sound as though I, um, had more bravado than I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, what do you — You don't remember saying that you described the murder, your participation as "fun"?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I remember us having the conversation. I just don't remember the exact words, and I'm not going to say I didn't say it because I would have been trying to impress Dianne.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you were trying to impress her. And what kind of language would that — would you have thought at the time would have impressed her?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That-that it was fun or easy and all of that, because we were moving under the idea that our bodies are just shells. And so, removing the shell is not death because the soul lives on. In the house, it was not that way, but at the ranch, I made it that way.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, what I'm hearing you say is that any — you don't necessarily remember using that exact word, but you could have said it, but your description was trying to impress Dianne, and so you would have used words that were taking the act as seriously as you should have because you were trying to fit in still with that group, and you felt like you should've had a different response than you did. So, am I understanding that correctly?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, you are. Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: And then, it sounds like —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, part-part of the life there was, um, like instead of having and understanding red flags and intuition, those were set up through the, um, rhetoric of Manson to be holding on to old, past thinking. So, instead of, um, reacting and moving forward with what my intuition was telling me, I would block it and try to fill it up with the group's jargon.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, we try to respond as if you would in the past. That was downplayed. I guess, old thinking, you're clinging to old stuff, you need to get rid of that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: "That's your mom and dad," "That's your school teacher," you know, "The minister, the church," you know? All of those things would be, um, maybe, um — as negatives to have.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: All of the, all the prior teachings.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, everything else prior in your life is made to feel, look bad. You want to remain on good terms with this group, they've accepted you, you've gone further and further in, so you kind of have to keep walking the line or buying- buying that. And so —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No. I was the — Oh, I'm sorry. I interrupted you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: No, go ahead.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I was self-critical. I-I wasn't, um, mimicking loyalty to the group, you know? I-I was self-critical of those kinds of thinking. I was working very hard to remove all of that. But when I was in the house where murders were occurring, I had a great deal of feeling about, um, this not being what had been presented. I also blocked it when I — you know, and kept going. I offered no apolo- — I mean, I offered no excuse for, um, who I was and what I was doing.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I was, I was in it 100%.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. You said in the house that you'd had feelings. So, when the Governor had concerns about these conflicting statements, being something fun versus being something horrible. Were you — In the house, were you thinking, "This is the horrible predatory thing"? Is that what your thoughts were? Where did the horrible and predatory state- — Where-where did that come in?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That-that was inside of me. There-there — Actually, it's, I don't see it as conflicting. One was my internal true self and my other was the facade of what I was belonging to as a group.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I rejected my true self and continued to live with the group.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, the statements of, you know, being conflicting in the Governor-Governor's letter of concerns, the (Unintelligible) what you're saying, that was what — I mean, inside you thought, "This is horrible. This is predatory," but you wanted to remain with the group, so you had the facade of using and describing it as something fun. So, am I understanding that right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. And then you made a comment about, um, you know, how he would say, you know, holding onto this old thinking, you know, that was his way of kind of explaining your intuition or your kind of gut, your normal response. Where you really buying into it when he was saying that, like, "Hey, this is the old, the old thinking, this is your parents, this is the church," whatever? Were you buying his explanations for that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I was.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And part of it was the, um, abortion with mom, you know? I was rebelling against her. I had a lot of, um, anger at her and I felt my dad had abandoned to me. So, there was enough in my, you know, young mind that I, uh, believed what he was saying.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, where'd you — You saw some negative things in your own family and your own life that you're like, "Yeah, this is, this is, this isn't right. I can toss it aside and put on this new, this new way of thinking."
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I can, I can let all that go and become, um, one with the universe, I guess. I don't, you know — With him, certainly.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: He would, he would, he would play little games with us, you know, like mate and touch hands and how easily we would follow his hand was how in tune we were with him. And for some reason, he always found fault in me, and I think it was because the more fault he found, the more harder — the harder I tried, you know?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you think he was doing that as another way to manipulate you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. Yes, I do.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: And I-I was totally unaware of it. I was constantly trying to please him more.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Another thing in the Governor's letter, his concerns, talks about your characteriz-characterization of your participation in the murders. So, this is on page 3. Um, it talks about, you know, what you said before about you stabbing the victim and also noting that you assumed that she was dead at the time that you stabbed her. Um, is that right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I did.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, my question for you is, if she — if you had known — if she was alive and you — or you thought she was alive, would you still have done it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I would have.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Why?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because Tex told me to, and we were all supposed to do something. And so, up until that point, I had not, um, participated in the murder at the level that was expected of me.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: What would have happened to you if you didn't?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I'm not sure.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: What would you —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'm not —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Well, at the time, what were you afraid would have happened?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That I would have probably ended up in the house as well. I-I really didn't give myself much chance to think about it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: When you say, "In the house as well," do you mean killed by them?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, by Tex.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: By Tex? Killed by Tex?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. I-I didn't know, I didn't know what would happen, but for a split second, I wanted to get out of the house, and very quickly, I told myself no.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, you wanted to get out and you're — it sounds like you're rationali- — you're-you're seeing that this is horrible, but you also said, yet you are 100%, because it sounds like because you had bought in so far, you weren't willing toto- change or what?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I was, um, incapable of it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. At that point, you were just not capable of changing?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, at some point, you talked about things changed from kind of idealistic hippie, (Unintelligible), getting more negative. So, you know, at some point, did you say to yourself, "This is not what I signed up for. This is going differently. I need to get out of here"? I mean, did you have any point where you were questioning it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: If-if I — I don't remember questioning it, but if I did, I would have judged myself for not, um, understanding he knew what was the best.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I-I — Questions were, um, considered, uh, not being tuned in and part of the group, and, um, he would always say, "The answer's in the question," and, "No sense makes sense." So, I didn't have the capability of, really, by that time, of, um, putting thoughts together like that.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, I want to shift and ask you a couple of questions kind of I had after reviewing your file. One of the things that struck me is that, you know, as we reviewed your case, we received letters from people, literally all over the world. Some of you — Support some of them supporting you, some of them wanting your parole denied, and there's a real sense of people wanting to be a part of this case, and it's hard to say what people's motivations are. Some people may want to be part because it's a famous case or they want notoriety attached, you know, with it, whatever the reason. So, there is an issue with you being attached to antisocial peers with all of this. In the future, if you're ever released, people may want to be around you or be with you because of this. How are you going to distinguish their motives and figure out, "Is this a pro- social person? Is this a person who maybe has some, you know, antisocial reasons for wanting to (Unintelligible)?" I mean, how are you going to be able to distinguish that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, first of all, I have a really solid network of friends that have been in my life for over 30 years, 35 years. And, um, I don't make decisions quickly, and I am, quite frankly, leery of most people that are suddenly wanting my attention. Um, I have a support network that certainly would know if someone was coming into my life, and, um, I'm prepared for that, you know? I get it, I get it in prison, right, the-the idea of people wanting to suddenly be very close to me in here. And so, I pay very close attention to my, um, uh, reactions to people. And, um, I'm not that — I'm a kind and caring person, but I'm not that open with letting people into my private life of my family and who I have. And, um, I certainly would work very closely with my parole agent, but I don't, I don't see myself being attracted to movements, that — If that's what you're talking about or —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: People that —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, if you have people contacting you, sending letters and emails, call- — you know, if you sense maybe something is off with the person or it's not a connection you want to make, how do you address that? How do you — Do you say it to the person, or what do you do?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I don't answer — for the most part, I don't answer people that I don't know. And the second thing, if I continually get letters and, um, like two or three a week from the same person, I put them all in an envelope and I send them to the institutional investigator and let them know.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, if you're in the community and that happens, what would you anticipate doing in that situation?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I tell my, um, agent. If it was more of a, um, physical threat, like, I thought somebody was following me, I'll call the police.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. So, considering all the Governor's concerns in this letter, how do you address that (Unintelligible) in reverse of your grant?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: What-what — I don't quite understand what you mean.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, you let — You read the Governor's reversal letter. He expresses a number of concerns. What have you done in the last year and a half to address those concerns?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I joined the ISUDT. I, um, shortly after I got the letter, I came down with COVID. So, I, um, it affected my lungs, and I was in the hospital with it for a few days, and then at the CTC here. And I had the long-range effects of, you know, my thinking. I had to work with crossword puzzles, and I'm doing everything I can to bring myself back up to the person that I was, but the prison shut down. So, there was, um, a period of time where things were being done in-cell. And I have read his letter more than once, and I chose at that time to, um, uh, stop, like I told you before, I stopped being the chairperson of the Advisory Council and I became a participant in the ISUDT program, and I have, um, reviewed and thought a lot about what he said, you know? And I think part of it is that I-I didn't join a violent cult in the beginning, but that also has — Part of that ISUDT program is they have you do a lot of work with your addiction. And even though I've been sober for decades, it gave me a chance to really go back to my origins of addiction, and that whole process helped me really revisit in a more feeling manner than remembering manner who I was, who was I from 14 to 20. And, um, I-I found the opportunity to really be able to remember, um, how broken I was, you know, how deeply affected I was, and I'm not making, uh, any kind of political statement about abortion, I'm just talking about me. And, um, I-I addressed them as best I could, you know? And I think part of it was that I haven't explained myself well enough.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Do you see any similarities or commonalities between your ori-, the origins of your addiction, as you just said, in your getting involved with this cult or this group with Manson? Do you see any ties or similarities?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah, definitely, definitely. And, um —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Tell us what —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well, when dad left, I rebelled against my mom and I blamed her for, uh, all that had happened. He was not responsible at all. It was all her. And I began to, uh, start smoking marijuana and hanging around other single-parent, um, kids, because this was like 1964, and single-parent households were the minority at the time. And, um, then the drugs, when I went back to the drugs in the, um, winter of, uh, '67 probably, let's say January of '68, um, I — that lifestyle is what took me to Manson. Being with the, um, hippie movement, LSD, seeking that, uh, Timothy Leary's Be Here Now kind of philosophy is what, um, took me back. And even when I sobered up, it was to join a yogic monastery, you know, it wasn't to ground myself. My dad took advantage of the fact that they said they needed secretaries to get me into business school. So, I-I wouldn't say that I ever completely figured out life at that point. And, um, I, uh, believe and I'm adhering to the whole idea of the genetic possibilities of, um, addiction. My dad was an alcoholic, and I, um, adhere to that now, you know? So, I think that once I smoked that first, um, marijuana cigarette, I was hooked on putting myself in a different place than not having had it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: It sounds like both your addiction in your joining Manson's group were both ways of you rebelling and kind of you turning your back on traditional, um, way of life that wasn't really working out for you so well. That's kind of what I'm hearing. Is that fair to say?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, yes. That's — Yes.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Let me check with my colleague and see what questions he has for you so far.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: I don't have any questions regarding the, uh, life crime.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Why don't we move on to post-conviction?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. The post- conviction, um — Well, there's a lot of — in your, in your file about all your education and your work. So, I'll just note that since the last hearing, you've, uh, continued to work as a clerk and a teacher's aide. You've been a tutor since 2005. Your work supervisory reports are positive. You've continued with self-help and the Actors' Gang, the CBI, the Outpatient — Is that the, uh, ISUDT?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay. And, uh, you have participated in the Inmate Advisory Council as well. Your, um, participation in the Actors' Gang, what are you, what are you getting from that? How is that benefiting you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It — Well, it's just called the Actor's Gang because the, um, program that they offer in the prisons was started by the Actors' Gang from UCLA, about 30, 40 years ago, probably. But the whole idea is to, um, be able to — they-they focused on four emotions, and that is, um, anger, fear, sadness, and happiness. And we take on a character of the Commedia Dell'arte from the 1500s, and we put those four emotions into the character. And the whole idea is that by using a character, we can begin to come in touch with our own emotions and to be able to feel our own emotions as they come in. The overall goal is that, as we live in our community and we deal with things, we can read ourselves and come to know when is anger getting out of control and how can I reduce it. And they also, um, ha- — It's more physical than it's — it's a therapy, but it's-it's more physical. It's not sitting in a circle and discussing things. It's-it's putting it into motion and including the body. They have a, um, expression that they use that I really love, which is, um, "I am the master of my mind and not a victim of my thinking." And I think that, um, that's a big part of their philosophy, and, um, it's also a lot of how to work in a community, how to be part of a positive community. There are certain rules. You never say, "No," you say, "Yes, and," and, um, you don't, uh, use other people to make yourself look better. And so, they're — It's-it's a great program and I enjoy it very much and I get a lot out of it. There'sthere's one exercise in particular where you just simply stand and they use different tones of music, and you-you deliberately pull up the emotion that they're having you pull up. And it's amazing how I began to be able to read what's going on inside of me, because I was numb for a very long time.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What are your emotions about your life crime based on the work you've done here with the Actors' gang?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Sad.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Anything else?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's hard to, it's hard to live with, you know? It's-it's hard to live with the damage I have done to the families, to the friends, my own family, the fear that was in the community. It's a tool to make people afraid. It's-it's rough living with that, and I'm very, very thankful for, um, the service work I'm able to do in here. I-I have found a way to live with it, but living with it is-is rough, so rough. (Unintelligible) —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What-what are you telling yourself to help you live with it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I tell myself that I can't undo the damage. But early in my life, when they abolished the death penalty and I realized I was going to live with this for the rest of my life, I made a commitment to myself that I would strive to always put something positive and not negative. And unfortunately, I made that commitment to myself very young and I made errors along the way, but I have stayed true to that, and I lived with myself by being, um, someone who, um, is a positive influence in a negative environment. I'm attentive to what I do. I — you know?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And you talked a little bit about the ISUDT. That's a Substance Abuse Treatment program, right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. The Integrated Substance Use Treatment program.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And you've, um, you're still in that program?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: You left the IAC in order to do that program.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: When, um, the Governor that he didn't think that, um, I had a clear understanding, I felt that I needed to, uh, join into — or actually get interviewed for it by a social worker. I-I went through the process to get into the program because this, uh, most of my intervention is, um, self-help groups, and this is a CDCR, um, program. So, I wanted to do it.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. And you've done AA and NA and that type of group in the past, right?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. Which is your favorite step —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: (Unintelligible) —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Which is your favorite step of the 12 steps?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, right now my favorite step is 10.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What is it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: You know, where I-I inventory the day, I review the day, I make right what, um — It's sort of like a combination of four and, um, eight and nine, you know? I-I keep it — if I feel that there's something with someone I'm not comfortable with, I'll go and have a conversation with them. And, um, so, I would say at the moment, step 10 and also the Serenity Prayer, you know? The courage to change the things I can and the willingness to accept those that I cannot.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Do you think you're vulnerable to a relapse into substance abuse in the community?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I don't, I don't see myself as vulnerable to it, but I have talked with, um, one of the women that used to come in and be part of the SAP program. She comes in now and does the open AA meeting. Her name is Shelly. And I have — I was going to meet with her, but then we went on another COVID quarantine. I saw her the other day and I've asked her if she'll, um, consider sponsoring the, um, should I be able to parole. So, I-I don't see myself as — I-I-I-I feel like I have to keep an eye on it, you know? I don't — I'm not ever going to say, "Oh, I've got it together," and I'll never use again. I'm not going to play that kind of thing with myself. I-I believe I'm an addict, and I treat it the same way I do my osteopenia, you know? I make sure that I have the support that I do have.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What's the greatest risk factor that might get you to use substances out in the community?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: You know, that's hard for me to answer, but I would say my greatest risk factor would be me thinking I have it all together and I could take a chance and take that drink. My own arrogance would be my greatest risk factor, and I keep a handle on that, I keep a handle on that. And the woman I've asked if she would be my sponsor, she's a pretty tough woman. She's been around the block, and she's smart. And that's why I asked her if she would be my sponsor because she has watched me over the years and she would not be hesitant to tell me, "Pull it in," you know?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you been challenged in prison regarding substance abuse?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, really not —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you had cravings? Have you been offered?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh, no, no. I don't have the cravings. And one of the things that I did when I sobered up was realized that it's one of the things I can do in memory of, um, uh, Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, that I-I-I can at least do that.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Are there any changes that you're going to make as far as maintaining your sobriety out in the community versus what you're doing now in prison?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'll probably go to more A-, um, AA meetings than I can now, because they're just now coming up. Another woman and I, um, during the time of isolated units, we put together, uh, an NA meeting for women in our unit, and the officer was the one who supervised it. But I think I would probably go to more meetings and have more of a cohesive, um, NA community that I'm part of.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Do you foresee or anticipate any, uh, any differences as far as your triggers in the community versus here in prison?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, there might be some, but I'm pretty good with knowing when a trigger happens and having the skills to address them, you know? I, uh, I have more — My triggers are more when people try to, um, manipulate me into doing what they want done. That-that's probably one of my strong triggers that I'm very careful with how people, um, address themselves with me.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: How do you know when someone's trying to manipulate you?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, they don't take no for an answer and they begin to try to convince me to see it their way. And, um, when they're — Usually, when people are adamant, you know, I, um, wonder why.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you thought about the fact that there's more availability of, uh, substances out in the community, there's — you're going to have less supervision, you might have more stressors in your own life?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, yeah, I paid attention, and, um, I know that everywhere you go, there's alcohol and, um, I —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Marijuana is legal now.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh, yeah, that's right. It's legal now. Yeah, that too. I'll be honest with you. My-my mother made a comment one time that she actually thought she would be visiting me here as if I were in a mental institution. And my sobriety, my mind, my thinking are a precious gift too, that I'm not willing nor am I even interested in doing anything at all that would remove me from who I am at this moment. And it's-it's very strong in that I-I have worked very hard to find peace with myself, and it's probably my greatest way that I live is not messing around with anything that's going to alter my mind or make me vulnerable.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What about negative peers? How are you going to deal with —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Negative what?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Negative peers?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Like other people involved in negative behavior? What's your plan to, uh, to avoid them?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'll just tell them I'm leaving. "I don't, I don't, I'm not interested in what you're doing, and I'm out of here." I do my best to, um, carry myself in a consistent way in here, and, um, I will do the same out there. I don't think anybody will particularly want to do something negative around me. I-I don't, I don't have the need to be, um, viewed as cool, you know, or that you can do something and I'll pretend I didn't see it. I-I-I don't have a problem saying, uh, "I'm not up for what you're doing."
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What's the source of your self-worth today?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I'm able to be around, I would say, number one, my family and their love of me, and, um, my friends, my — hard work that I've done to learn to live with what I did and all the harm I caused and who I had become. Um, my worth is in being of service to people, that, um, I share my life experiences of incarceration with younger people and try to help them find their way. So, my self-worth is in what I do, day-to- day. When it falters, I regroup. When I start feeling unsure, I have the therapies to do that, and I'm always in a therapy group. I believe in therapy groups, and I appreciate them.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: How are you going to get therapy in the community?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, well, I'd start off in a transitional living, and they would have therapy groups. And I know there are therapy groups that parole agents do. And, um, I'll just have to take it one day at a time after that. I'm-I'm sure I'll find a therapy group. There's a, um, one woman who offers, um, a social — Maryland Montenegro, she wrote a letter, and she offers those kinds of services where I could probably find a therapy group.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. Your discipline history, uh, in prison, you just have, um, a write-up, administrative or counseling chrono for communicating with people in another unit. That was January 11th, 1981. And nothing else. Are there, um, any specific coping skills that you have used to stay discipline-free for so long?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I-I follow the rules, you know?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Why?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: If I — Because I don't want to, um, get a write-up and break the rules, and I honor the rules. I'm-I'm, you know, there are times that dinner's really good and I'd like to find a way to take it out, but it's against the rules, so, I don't do it. Um, you know, I-I live my life by the rules, the same way people do drive cars out in the community, you know? They're-they're made for a reason. I've been around prison long enough. I pretty much know the reasons for the rules, and they're valuable.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What are the reasons they don't let you, let you take a food to your, to the house?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Well — Oh, okay. They don't let us because of, um, rats, insect, you know, ants. I think that's why. I think it's more of a sanitary thing.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And why do you, why do you think there are rules out in the road like you mentioned for cars?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, that people don't crash into each other and, um, just keep going straight and bump into others, and it brings order.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And if no one's looking, there's no possibility of that order being disturbed, would you still follow the rule, like at a stop sign?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah, yeah. I follow the rules when no one's looking. That's very important to me. I take very seriously what I did, and I don't give myself what we call in here "small permissions," you know? I-I-I do my best to be a consistent human being that lives my life in a way that respects everything that there is in my community.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you been challenged as far as following the rules? You mentioned you wanted to take food home.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Have I been —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you been challenged? Have you been, uh, in situations where your initial thought may have been to violate a rule, but you —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Oh. Yes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What kind of challenges have you had?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, like someone might say, "Oh, yeah, you can go ahead and come in this unit. Nobody's going to know. The officer doesn't care," and I'll tell them. "No. No, I'm not going to do that. I'll see you later." I'm-I'm perfectly comfortable telling people no. I wasn't always like that, but I am now.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What about negative peers? Have you been tested in that way in prison?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Uh, maybe when I was younger, you know? The-the most I, um, have are people, um, saying, um, "Hey, can I ask you a question," you know, and I'll just tell him, "That depends on what it is." And if it's personal, I tell them, "No, I'm not going to answer you," but if it's something that has to do with how the prison functions, then I'm more than happy to share it.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: You haven't been offered marijuana or contraband or anything like that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: When I was younger. Now, not at all. Not at all.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: They don't have, they don't have any, they don't have any negative peers there anymore?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: They have tons, but I'm not in their age bracket, you know?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I'm-I'm usually the one trying to say, "Hey, you don't want to do that," you know? There — I know it's here, but it's-it's not part of my world.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And what would be your state of mind in some- — if someone did invite you to do something illegal, like pass contraband or something?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I just tell them no. Oh, yeah. I'll tell them no.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: But what-what would be your state of mind? What would, what would your immediate thoughts be?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I would be a little angry that they would even have thought they could ask me. That they should, they should know my way of walking into the prison a little bit better than that.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. You, uh, indicated earlier you want to live at a residential program. Have you decided which one you're going to? You have many letters of acceptance.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. I think that if I could, the one that would lead me logistically and the best place to get work, it would be the, um, ARC Lorena House.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Where's that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It's in, uh, uh, L.A.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What part?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Boyle Heights.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And why do you want to go there?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because, um, uh, Actors' Gang has offered me a job in there, I believe, um, in Culver City, somewhere near there. And, um, I know that there's, uh, CalState L.A., and, um, the community college of, um, East L.A. And I have a letter from the Dean from Chaffey College. I've worked under Chaffey College for 12 years, and I have certification and the, um, training to be a tutor. And they have a program for the AA-level of education called — I think it's called Rising Scholars. And I think I could be able to, um, uh, help out in that way. I'm — I would say that's probably my, uh, job that I would love to do the most is help. Uh, first semester, AA community college students work on their degrees.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Any other, um, way that you're going to support yourself other than tutoring?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, a friend of mine volunteered to give me like, um, money to get by. I don't ever plan on living alone or paying rent. I-I believe that at my age, I would do better either living in a back house or in a room with someone that I know really well and contribute to the cost of living there. But, um, right now, I think that what would be the greatest thing at my age to be able to, um, work is with the Actors' Gang. Um, being a grant writer for programs that would be offered here. I would like to be interviewed by the Anti-Recidivism Coalition to be, um, a mentor and, um — to young people and those coming out of prison after I adjusted to being out of prison, and also trying to do the, um, tutoring at the community college level. Those are, those would be my four hopes.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Where are you going to live after transitional housing?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, that's why I'm going to transitional housing because I only know some friends and people from the visiting room, and I would like to, um, get to know my friends in the community before I make that decision, but I have, I have three or four different people that have been in my life for decades that I feel would be safe, you know? There's, um, uh, Linda Grippy, there's Connie Turner. Um, I can't think right now, but I know there, I know there are quite a few that have offered. But I would like to even get advice for my parole agent on what they think, you know?
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I have my brothers, both of my brothers, you know? That-that, I see that as a decision to be made...
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: ...when I'm settled.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And speaking of support, as the Commissioner mentioned, you have a lot of support. There are numerous letters, um, and there's also a lot of opposition worldwide. Um, too much to detail here. So, I'm more interested in who is, who is your most important support group and why?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: (Unintelligible) —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: You can list like the top three or four persons.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Okay. My family, for sure.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: So, that would be your brothers?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: My brothers and my niece, my nieces, um, on my younger brother's side. And, um, let's see. Um, I think another person that's very important to me is a woman named Linda Grippy. She has — We were in high school together, and she has stood by me, um, all these years. And, um, I — Let's see. Different people for different-different things, I think. I-I don't want to say, you know, just one person for all of it because part of my, um, healing has come from many different people and who they (Unintelligible). So —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: All right. And-and regarding all the opposition that you have out there, how do you respond to that? What do you think about it?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I unders-, I understand it and it makes me feel, um, bad. It makes me feel regretful and full of remorse that that's how I'm viewed. And, you know, I — It's part of my life, to tell you the truth, that people —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yeah, are you — Go ahead
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: That people resent that I'm even alive, you know? And I have to focus on what I have done with that life and-and what I have tried to do to — I think the expression these days is, "Pay it forward," but how-how I have contributed to this community. So —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Are you re- — And are you remorseful?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I — Yeah, certainly. And I live my life of remorse.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: What's your definition of remorse?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: My definition of remorse is deep regret and living in a way that can atone for the damage done. In my case, I can never atone and rectify what happened. I took lives, and lives cannot be replaced.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Can you —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: So, I live my life of service for — Amendments, amending. I live a life of being an amender.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Have you done or participated in any, um, religious studies, religious activities?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Um, I was born Presbyterian. But about the middle of, uh, 1995, I was — I-I would say it's more spiritual than religious. I have to say that. I follow in a more spiritual path. And I was invited to the, um, Lakota Native-American sweat lodge. And, um, I found, um, their, uh, sweat lodge ceremony to be, um, somewhere where I was able to, uh, face myself in the dark. And, um, I worked for the priest for a while. I'm-I'm in — I'm affiliated or connected to all of the, um, religions here, but I walk spiritually and I focused more on the Native- American. I think that that holds the greatest responsibility of how to live your life, for me.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Were you religious before, uh, the life crimes?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I was religious — No, I had left the Presbyterian Church when I started taking LSD. I was more involved in, um, finding my true essence in being through LSD. So, and then, and then I went into the Self- Realization, uh, meditation. And then, of course, I was, uh, religious when I met Manson (Unintelligible) we got involved in —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: So, you weren't before?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Before, I was involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship. Yeah.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: And you thought he was Jesus? You're convinced of that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I believed it.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Did he, uh, perform any miracles?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, probably in reality, sleight of hand, but, you know, I was intoxicated and, you know, he would re-enact his, uh, crucifixion, and it seemed very real while I was on LSD. So — And he would tell parables. Yeah.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Which you, uh, as far as you — what you knew of religion, did Jesus, uh, promote murder or killing of anybody?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: He said that last time he came, he was crucified and he wasn't going to let that happen again.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: That's what he said.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: But I'm asking you your understanding of Christianity. Did Jesus ever promote murder?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Was Jesus racist?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: I don't have anything else. Back to you, Commissioner.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. I have some follow-up questions for you. So, you talked about living life as an amender and living a life of service. So, can you tell us what some of those amends are?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I spend time, um — My free time, I spend time mentoring and tutoring, and, um, I see it more as a lifestyle, you know? I pay attention to the people that are in my house and unit. And sometimes, um, they'll put people in our housing unit that are a step away from the, uh — being in the support care unit, you know? So, I'll check on them, see how they are, you know? Just, uh, trying to be of service to people, but not at my own expense. I should probably say that. I'm not people- pleasing, I'm just part of the community. I facilitate groups, I share what I've learned, I, um, try to help young people start thinking about their crimes and what they've done. And, um — you know.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Do you have any character defects you think you still need to work on?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I always need to work on and keep an eye on, um, rescuing, you know? Um, people-pleasing. Um, I still have trouble with the disharmony with someone, you know? I have to — If-if I, um, think about something that happened more than a half-hour or an hour ago, and it's still eating at me, I addressed it immediately. I don't — I see those as my key, uh, factors that I need to really, um, pay attention to, and I do.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: How do you deal with wanting to rescue people or the people-pleasing?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, the rescuing, like I — The best example is someone who, it's their phone time, and they're a timid individual, and the other person's not getting off. My first thing is to try to help her encourage the other person to get off the phone, but that's not my place, you know? The person needs to learn how to have their own strengths, just like we all do. And so, that's an example of where I won't. I won't, um — When I was on the Advisory Council, people would come and give me a problem and I would tell them how to solve it, I wouldn't solve it. And, um, people-pleasing, um, if something seems more important to me than it should with an individual. I'll, um, pay attention to it, I'll, you know, look at it and see why it's there and, um, address it.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. You mentioned earlier when you were talking to the Commissioner about, you know, substances. Um, I thought you said something about, you know, only the things that would be a problem is thinking, you know, "I can have one drink." I don't remember seeing that you had an issue with alcohol. I was thinking it was marijuana and other psychedelic type medi-, um, drugs. Did you ever have an issue with alcohol?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, I didn't. I just used that because I was thinking in the world I'll be in, that would probably be what people do.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: You know, I don't, I don't foresee myself, um, being, uh, associated or affiliated with people that are involved in, um, marijuana or, uh, medications, you know?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, you —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Heroin, methamphetamine. I — That's — I don't, I don't, I don't see myself being near that.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, you didn't have an issue with alcohol, but it sounds like your plan would be then you still weren't planning to drink even though you didn't have an issue with that. Is that what I'm hearing?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yeah. I don't, I don't plan on doing anything...
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: ...that removes my, um, current state of mind.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: So, let's look at your Comprehensive Risk Assessment. That assessment did give your overall risk rating as a low. Looking in the historic category, those risk factors, none of those were noted to be relevant for your future violence. Similarly, looking at the clinical factors, which are the recent problems, none of those were noted to be relevant as well. Looking at future problems, under the risk management category, the only one that was noted there as relevant for you was stress. So, how do you deal with stress today?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, right now, the — in the ISUD T program, every two months, they give you a special treatment plan. So, right now, I'm working on a treatment plan that has to do with stress. I do an in-cell mindfulness, you know, which, um, gives you the tools for the stress and anxiety, and I'm slowing down a bit on, um, as much as I used to do, um, within the prison, like I'm going to be only facilitating one day a week instead of every night. And, um, I'm paying attention to that. Exercises. There's-there's a lot to do these days with the stress.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Is there anything else in the CRA that we have not discussed that you want to discuss with us now?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No. I-I spoke with you at the beginning about my concern about the one — No.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Before we go into clarifying questions and closing, would you want to take a break? We've been going for a while. So, let's take about a five-minute break. If anyone wants to use the restroom, you can drink water or anything, we'll do that now. Let's go off the record. It's 11:50 a.m.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: We're back on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: We're back on the record. It's 11:56 a.m. We're now going to move into clarifying questions. So, Mr. Pfeiffer, do you have any clarifying questions for your client?
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: I do, Commissioner. Um, when-when Catherine Share tried to get you to go to the commune, how long did that recruiting process take?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It took about two months.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: And why did it take so long?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Because I was with Bobby. I was traveling around with Bobby.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Were you resistant to go to the commune at first?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, I was unsure, but, you know, she spoke of it every day.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: So, every day for two months, and you finally caved in, lack of resources and thought that was your best option?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: I was weary of Gail and Bobby fighting all the time, so, yeah.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. Um, now, peer pressure is one of the characteristics of youth that are mitigating factor. When you were at Manson's ranch, um, and when it turned into a cult, were — did he use any peer pressure tactics?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes, We-we peer pressured each other.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: In what way?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Um, like I spoke of earlier, that if anyone offered any resistance, the others would mock them, (Unintelligible) missing mommy and daddy and doing that sort of thing. So —
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: So —
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It was constant peer pressure. Everything was peer pressure.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: If you missed your parents, were you afraid to express that?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: What were the, um — Were there any consequences, um, if you were doing things that Manson didn't want you to do?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: If you, um, contested him, he would slap and carry on. He was an abuser.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Okay. Um, earlier on, um, the Commissioner had asked you, um, if Manson ever gave you anything. Did he ever give you, like, a promise or expectation of eternal life?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: We were going to live in the center of the earth.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: For how long?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: He wasn't specific, but somewhere a couple of hundred years or 100 years, or — He wasn't specific.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: So, did you interpret that as long as you stayed with him and did what he wanted, you would have eternal life?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. And if I left him, I would, um, be caught in a horrible, brutal, gruesome world.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: And when — Now, you said, you testified earlier that it took five to six months for this loving hippy commune to turn into a violent cult. Did it just happened overnight or did it evolve slowly into that? What happened?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: It-it moved slowly, and he came to us in the desert and said that we were going to have to go back into the city, that the Beatles were talking to him, that there was going to be a revolution. And so, it was a slow process to build up to — July was when it really escalated, but the philosophy changed around early '69.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Did — When you first, you know, decided to go to the ranch, into this commune, would you view that as voluntarily joining a murderous cult?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Was it that when you joined?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: No, it wasn't.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: I don't have any other questions.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Well, let's move into closing statements then. Mr. Pfeiffer, you have 10 minutes for your closing. It's 12:01 p.m.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Thank you. Um, Ms. Van Houten testified about she-she did not voluntarily join this murderous cult, as been portrayed by the Governor. Um, she — Through her testimony today, I think it's pretty amazing the amount of introspection she's been able to do on her life for all these years. She's made very good use of this time in prison. Um, she talked about how hard it is to live with the damage she's done to everybody, her family and the community, everybody. That's not going away anytime soon. It's — If it hasn't gone away in over 50 years, it's never going to go away. And she's had to learn how to live with that, and she's — The way she's learned how to live with that is, um, to be of service to others. And she's testified, she's very thankful for that service work. Um, when you look at all of these letters that come in, quite a few of them are from former inmates who had, um, attributed their rehabilitation to, um, Ms. Van Houten, and then been able to carry that on out through, um, the outside. And there's no question that because they're living successful lives, that they're also impacting others in a positive way. So, even though Ms. Van Houten has been limited because she's in prison as to what she can do in service to others, the impact that she's had in the world, a positive impact since the time of the murders has been pretty incredible. When you think about how many of these inmates have been rehabilitated, attributing back to her, and then going out in the world and may positively impact others. Um, the one thing that I thought was very telling of, um — I just want to point out. One of the letters that came in was from, um, Eleanor Liffety, and she talked about how Leslie, um, showed her through Leslie's own actions about, um, how — what emotional wellness look like. And I thought that was very (Unintelligible). It's not just talk. Um, she said that, um, Ms. Van Houten is deserving of freedom because she's the reason she's able to dig deep within herself and then to understand why she acted the way she did to land in prison. It's not surprising I get a lot of phone calls from supporters along the way, and several of them told me, you know, because I asked them, "What did Leslie actually do," and the one common thing was, they all said, "She had us look deep into our own core to see what got us here, and then we would have to address that in no uncertain terms and in an honest fashion." And that is basically, um, the success part of the 12 steps, um, as far as I'm concerned. I think it's, you know, total, brutal honesty is a requirement of the 12-step program, and that's what makes that successful. And-and that is, what Leslie has given to these other inmates that she's been able to mentor through the years. And-and then she doesn't go out looking for these inmates to change their lives. They come to her and she looks at the ones who are sincere and she takes them under her wings. And because she's only associating with people who are making positive impacts, it's made it easier, you know, for her to be able to-to be that positive force, even in prison. Um, one of the letters was from Bill McBride, and he was a juror in the third trial, and he-he is a supporter of her release. And for nine and a half months during that trial, he listened to all of the witnesses, everything that happened. And, um, you know, he, in his letter, um, he states that, you know, the coroner had, um, testified that, uh, when Ms. Van Houten inflicted the wounds of Mrs. LaBianca, she was already dead. So, there's no question about that. And it keeps coming up as well, she might've been alive, but, oh, not according to testimony, and this was one of the jurors who heard that testimony. Um, and then he-he also talked about, after hearing all of the evidence for nine and a half months, that her involvement was minimal compared to everybody else. Um, the Governor and-and all of the negative things, they'd come out, start out with Manson. Well, we're not asking that Manson be paroled. We're not asking that, you know, Manson, um, what he did should have any impact on Leslie's parolability. Uh, this isn't about that. This is about who Ms. Van Houten is today. Is she a current unreasonable risk to public safety today? When you look at all of these clinicians through all of these decades, it's-it's unanimous. Everybody believes that she is not an unreasonable risk. One of the clinicians even said, "Well, you know, she qualifies, um, to be able to live in my upstairs bedroom." That's how much he believed that, you know, she's not a current unreasonable risk to public safety. Um, there was a letter from John Waters, it's very short, and it got to the point, and he basically ended his letter saying, "No one could possibly argue that this mature, repentant, sober woman could be any kind of danger to society in 2022. I thank you for your level-headed courage in the past hearings and urge you once again to do the right thing and grant, uh, Leslie Van Houten parole." And-and it is. It does take courage from this Panel. I understand that and you understand that. Um, there's going to be pressure. The Governor, he's got his pressures. He's an elected official. He's going to want to get elected again. He's not going to want to make unpopular decisions. Um, and I-I don't think that there's any realistic chance that, um, the Governor is ever going to change that because he's a politician and he's going to want to, he's going to want votes in the future. For that reason, I'm respectfully requesting that this Panel refer this matter, uh, back to the courts for re-sentencing under 1170-D. And when-when Ms. Van Houten was sentenced after the third trial, the judge stated that he was seriously considering giving her probation, and there was strong opposition from the prosecutors, and that's not surprising. And the judge came back and he said, "Okay, I can't do that. No judge in California has ever given a first-degree murder a probation," but he did the next best thing, which he gave her a sentence of seven to life on each of the two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy, and then he ran them all concurrently. He didn't have to do that, but he did. And at that time, Ms. Van Houten had over eight years of credit already served. So, she was eligible to be paroled at the time she was sentenced, and that was after the third trial. I think it was 43 years ago. And I-I don't think that the sentencing judge ever would have envisioned that continued exemplary behavior in prison, um, whatever result in her, remaining in her, if he would have known that or seen that, I'm very confident he probably would have just granted that probation, even over the prosecution's strong objections. For that reason, 1170-D is a good, you know, vehicle to find out what's going on. The courts are independent. They're supposed to act independently without the pressures. Um, they have pressures too, judges can get recalled, and-and that's a problem on a high-profile case. But at least, it's-it's better than having a Governor who relies on the voting public for his future. Um, the law is if Ms. Van Houten is not a current unreasonable risk to public safety, she shall be paroled. And I'm just asking that the law be (Unintelligible). That's all. Um, Ms. Van Houten says — I thought one of the best answers she gave today was regarding relapse prevention on drugs. The greatest risk- risk factor that she had was, "If I think I have it altogether," and that's the right attitude to have. Um, no addict can ever think they have it altogether and be over- confident. That's how relapses occur. And Ms. Van Houten gave the right answer for that. Um, and she says, "I live my life as service work," and that's demonstrated how successful that service work is when you look at all those letters from all those inmates. I had a hearing last year with Commissioner Thornton, and I had an inmate client who was not suitable for parole, and I thank you for helping me convince him to at least stipulate to a denial. And he had this same (Unintelligible) vision of wanting to go out there and help all these other people, and you described to him that when you get on an airline and the stewardesses tell you before you take off, "When the oxygen masks come down, you have to put yours on first before you can go ahead and help (Unintelligible) people or young people next to you." Well, because Ms. Van Houten has been able to help all of those people through all of those years, she has, um, treated herself first to rehabilitation before she went and started volunteering to help other people. And I think that so many successful inmates giving her credit for that is a demonstration that she had addressed it, her own rehabilitation first. Otherwise, she wouldn't be able to do that. So, I'm just asking you to just-just follow the law. It sounds simple, but it's, as John Waters said, it takes courage. And with that, I just ask you to grant her parole. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you.
ATTORNEY PFEIFFER: Oh, I want to add one other thing, and that is, the very first time she got granted parole, I came back into the prison. We-we didn't know if she'd get out or not. So, we're tidying up all the little parole plans, how she would get released, things like that. And every single prison staff member that I came in contact with either shook my hand or hugged me (Unintelligible). That's-that's what prison guards think of. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. Ms. Van Houten, this is your opportunity. Would you also want to make a closing statement?
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. I-I want to say, um, thank you for the opportunity to come today and speak with you. I answered the questions as truly as I can. I, um, appreciated your questions, and I hope I answered them in a succinct manner. Um, I cannot apologize enough to all of those who lost their loved ones. I am deeply sorry. They're, um — You all are in my mind and in my heart with what I do in my days. I, um, understand my situation. Um, I would like to say that, trying to make sense of what Charles Manson's philosophy was or what he portrayed himself as won't make sense because he played every angle he could in any way he could to, um, gain control and power over us that he had. I'm, um, again, thankful for this opportunity, and, um, I-I, uh, cannot say enough how regretful I am for my actions when I was that age. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We would now like to give the victims' family members the opportunity to speak. So, please, before you start, repeat your name and tell us your relationship to the victim or who you are speaking on behalf of as the representative for. I think we're going to have three speakers from (Unintelligible) we determined prior to starting. Who's going to be our first speaker today?
MR. DIMARIA: Uh, I guess I don't hear anything. This is Anthony DiMaria.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. You can (Unintelligible).
MR. DIMARIA: Um, okay. Uh, my, uh — Again, Anthony DiMaria, I am a representative of the LaBianca family as requested for Lou Smaldino. Commissioners, Mary Thornton and Rosalio Castro, I thank you for your consideration. I've been asked by the LaBianca families to speak as a family representative. As I read this statement, I will use the words "we" and "our" to reflect the collective perspectives of the LaBianca family and all families of Leslie Van Houten's victims. Just as Leslie Van Houten collectively conspired, targeted, restrained, tortured and killed in concert with the Manson family, so too each of our families suffer collective loss and anguish at the hands of Leslie Van Houten. Part of what continues to impact our families are these hearings and what is said in these hearings, past and present. We witnessed year after year how convicted killer, Van Houten and her representatives, would have the Parole Board believed her to be the victim of a (Unintelligible), that she was a cult follower, that she was a passive participant in a single night of misguided violence during the months' long Manson family mass murder rampage. There is talk of the offenses, remorse, nexus of current dangerousness that I — we even heard allegations, uh, that Governor Newsom is an unfair political hack. There'll be discussion of transformative rehabilitation and suitability. If ever a crime pertains to (Unintelligible) Leslie Van Houten's actions meet the rare-rare nature of the case, exacerbated (Unintelligible) —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: He's breaking, he's breaking up, uh, a little — You broke up a little bit. If you want to back up about a sentence, so then we'll make sure we get it on the tape.
MR. DIMARIA: If ever a crime pertains to Lawrence, Leslie Van Houten's actions meet the rare, severe nature of the case, exacerbated by Ms. Van Houten's cruel and callous behavior as she sang, giggled and perversely performed for cameras during her trial, as she inexplicably taunted our families and civil society at large. But first — Excuse me. But first I must express how our families are further pained by the inmate's abnormal fascination with the media and her extensive pattern of minimization despite 52 years of reflection and rehabilitation provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Regarding the media, Ms. Van Houten has made TV appearances on the Barbara Walters Show, 1977, the Barbara Walters Show in 1987, Diane Sawyer, ABC, 1993, the Larry King Show, 1994, the Larry King Show, 2002, and with an interview — in an interview with John Waters, 2009. In a recent Los Angeles Times article, associated press reporter, Linda Deutsch, described four visits she should — she had with Ms. Van Houten. Given the inmate's appetite for media attention, it is our family's dire concern that Leslie Van Houten would ever profit as a result of her crimes in a book or television deals. CDCR and the Parole Board bear responsibility in our suffering should such an exploitation occur after a possible release. Since her incarceration, Leslie has agreed to do book interviews and deals with Michael Farquhar, Nikki Meredith, Jeff Gunn, and Karlene Faith. Ms. Faith's book, The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten, culminated in the 2018 film, Charlie Says. It was produced by IFC Films, featuring international star Matt Smith of The Crown. It could be viewed today on virtually every platform, including Netflix. If Leslie Van Houten were not behind bars, she would be credited as a story writer and a producer. It is disturbing and mind-boggling to note that the killer saw fit to attend the Academy Awards with her filmmaker friend, John Waters, on April 3rd, 1978, just several months after making her first exclusive television appearance for the Barbara Walters Show. After all this insanity, our families shuttered to think, "What could be next? A book deal with Linda Deutsch, a television series directed by John Waters". Commissioner, Commissioners, it is a — is it normal for Leslie Van Houten to have so —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: I lost him. We lost you.
MR. DIMARIA: Uh, back —
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: Yeah. Back up about a sentence or two.
MR. DIMARIA: All right. I apologize to everyone that this is — Commissioners, is it normal for Leslie Van Houten to have so much accessibility, not to mention continued involvement and fascination with the media? If the inmate has true insight and understanding of her crimes, crimes which are among the most notorious murders in U.S. history, Ms. Van Houten's chronic engagement with television shows and writers is painfully insensitive to our families and defines her not only as a sociopath lacking genuine awareness into her crimes but also a narcissist with an insatiable addiction for attention and validation. Regarding minimization, Ms. Van Houten's — Van Houten's minimization comes in many forms and descriptions, such as drug influence, Manson mind control, victimhood, cult and follower suppositions. At a recent parole hearing, Ms. Van Houten's past attorney says, "Well, we are talking about one night of horrible violence in her life when she was clearly not in her right mind," end quote. This is a misstatement of gargantuan proportion. This pattern remains throughout the years. Ms. Van Houten said she accepts responsibility for what she termed, quote, "Superficial post-mortem wounds to Rosemary LaBianca." More recently, Leslie told the Board, quote, "I hope you're not understanding that I know it's my responsibility that I allowed this to happen to me," end quote. "It's my responsibility that I allowed this to happen to me." Uh, even today, Ms. Van Houten blames Manson as using hand movements to manipulate her, and quote, "I stabbed because Tex told me to," end quote. She also said that, "Charles Manson used every angle he could to gain control of me," end quote. Minimization or ruminations of a sociopath, the perpetrator and her team would have you believe that she is the victim, that she was forced to stab a cadaver 16 to 18 times, that her crimes occurred in some sort of vacuum void of Manson connection, that the, that the petitioner is a political prisoner. At the last hearing, Mr. Pfeiffer countered L.A. District Attorney Donna Lebowitz-Lebowitz's reference to a man wearing a Manson tattoo, quote, "As far as someone having a tattoo of Charles Manson on their arm, again, that's Charles Manson's crime. Ms. Lebowitz didn't see anybody with a tattoo Leslie Van Houten on her arm," end quote. I have several photos I'd like to submit to the Board. The first is an image of a Leslie Van Houten tattoo proudly displayed by its owner on the internet. I also have several photos of Van Houten t-shirts, both on the internet for sale and worn in public. Also, posters of the films Leslie, My Name is Evil and Charlie Says. These images provide contextual evidence of Leslie Van Houten's rockstar, serial killer status for mainstream culture. May I show them to the Board? I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Sorry, I was muted. Yes, go ahead and hold them up to the camera.
MR. DIMARIA: Okay. This, this is a tattoo. It's a Leslie Van Houten tattoo on YouTube posted by a young man who said he's a big fan of Ms. Van Houten, that he sends her letters every day and he likes all her films. We noted particularly Helter Skelter. This is a t-shirt of Leslie Van Houten for a rock band, I'm assuming. Another for sale, Charlie's Angels. Another version. One inscribed below the Babysitters Club. I will reference this later, particular-particular to the Babysitter's reference. This is the poster for Leslie, My Name is Evil. The actress playing Leslie. This says, "One woman and the trial that rocked the nation," and the — this is the poster of Charlie Says based on Karlene Faith's book. At the last hearing, Ms. Leslie Van Houten's attorney, Richard Pfeiffer admits, "This is a history- changing case, but not for what Ms. Van Houten did but for Charles Manson did, and there's a big difference between Charles — between Manson's crimes and Ms. Van Houten's crimes," end quote. So, let's acknowledge the big difference between Manson and Van Houten crimes and the LaBianca killings. Leslie Van Houten physically held Rosemary LaBianca hostage so that her partners could stab Leno LaBianca over two dozen times with a butcher knife and a carving fork at their leisure, Manson did not commit that crime. Leslie Van Houten physically prepared Rosemary for certain slaughter, Manson did not commit that crime. Leslie Van Houten physically tackled and restrained Rosemary as she was stabbed nearly three dozen times, Manson did not commit that crime. To note, it is particularly cruel to deny an innocent woman in struggling who, in the very least, to cover her vulnerable flesh during such a ghoulish slaughter. Leslie Van Houten physically stabbed a prone, defenseless woman 16 to 18 times, Manson did not commit those crimes. Leslie Van Houten committed each of these atrocities. And during all this time, Manson was in a car miles away. The inmate and her reps would even twist Charles "Tex" Watson into their scheme to mitigate her crimes as they submit Watson saying, "Do something as if she had unknowingly walked into the room after washing dishes," but there'd be no doubt, the inmates statistically did more than enough already. I'm sorry. I'm going to — There was reference today, Leslie has made numerous descriptions of what it felt like when she killed. One of those was addressed today. There are two others that weren't addressed. She describes the sensation of killing as feeling like, quote, "A shark with its prey," end quote, and, "Like a wild cat who had just caught a deer," end quote. Leslie Van — Based on these numerous accounts, we know for certain Leslie Van Hou-, Leslie Van Houten enjoyed killing, certainly had a great time taunting our families and society during her trial and soaked up the spotlight in her lengthy interview with Barbara Walters. It is this, it is these murderous crimes and perverse behavior during her trial that birth pernicious Manson myth and cultural obsession. Without Leslie Van Houten, Charles Manson would be known for exactly what he is, a low-life failure. Leslie Van Houten is not a victim of Manson Association. She made Charles Manson. The Manson family is often referred to as a "cult" and its killers as "followers." Even today in this hearing, I ask, "How many cults commit mass murder in organized fashion on five separate nights of violence? When does a convicted killer become a follower". The extensive prides of the so-called family from 1967 through 1974 that bind the gang as a particularly cruel and callous, violent crime organization, hell-bent on anarchy and sharing despicable, racist, terrorists and tents. Their crimes include credit card fraud, drug trafficking, grand auto theft, prostitution, pimping, extortion, widespread child molest-molestation at Spahn Ranch revealed by Patricia Kren-Krenwinkel as she describes the rapes of, quote, "12, 13, 14-year-olds," end quote. For the record, Leslie Van Houten and inmate Krenwinkel were in-charge of babysitting and tending to the children at Spahn Ranch. CDCR to conduct a formal investigation into these child crimes described by Ms. Krenwinkel to determine how much the inmates knew about these rapes, exactly who was involved in these crimes and seek out the victims to provide any needed help or assistance. I have made several complaints and requests for such a formal investigation into these rapes with Jennifer Schaffer, Jennifer Neal at CDCR immediately after Patricia Krenwinkel's admission on December 29th, 2016. Jennifer Schaffer and CDCR decided not to pursue the molestations at Spahn Ranch, yet in mind-boggling — in a mind-boggling twist of justice, the Board saw fit to launch an investigation into whether Ms. Van Houten and Krenwinkle, the combined convicted killers of nine people, were abusing victims. But there'd be no confusion who the actual victims are. Certainly, the Parole Board should know more about these molestations before granting release dates for either inmate. The litany of-of family crimes continues with the extortion, torture, murder of Gary Hinman committed by Robert Beausoleil. Ms. Van Houten's boyfriend. If Ms. Van Houten had gone to the authorities after Gary Hinman's murder, nine people would have lived their lives completely and we wouldn't be here today. I-I include the killings of Sharon Tate's unborn child, baby, and Donald Shea. Before I continue, I just feel such sorrow for everyone involved for Leslie-Leslie Van Houten included, but I have to finish saying this, and just for record. The crimes continued with the drug deal burn of Bernard Crowe, the attempted murder of Crowe days later- later when he was shot in the abdomen. August 8th, the murders of six people on Cielo. August 10th, the murders of two people at Waverly. August 28th, the murder of Donald Shea. Numerous racist attempts to frame African- Americans for mass killings. September 9th, 1970, the attempted murder of Barbara Hoyt. August 21st, 1971, the robbery of firearms from a supply store and subsequent shootout between four family culprits and 30 police officers in Hawthorne. September 5th, 1975, the attempted assassination of U.S. president Gerald Ford. This is no (Unintelligible). These are not exploited, brainwashed teens. This is an extremely cruel, violent criminal gang, in which Leslie Van Houten was one of a very small subset of killers. Her heinous crimes have left permanent wounds on American culture and altered United States history. Regarding the nexus of current dangerousness, Leslie Van Houten's crimes that helped her sculpted legacy he helped create and become a societal cancer with destructive and lethal consequences, even throughout the decades. Detective Don Ryan describes the crime scene of Vivian French's murder, quote, "As I entered the (Unintelligible) residence, I could hear the Pigs Are Coming song that was playing over and over again. When I walked in, I observed a white female, later identified as Vivian French lying on her back. She was nude and I noticed what appeared to be a black-handled knife in her right side, just above the breast. I noticed on the wall, there were some things written in blood. 'Helter Skelter and all pigs must die.' Helter Skelter — that's end quote, I'm sorry. Helter Skelter, same words written in blood at Leslie Van Houten's crime scene. I sadly called to your attention also the murder of 16-year-old Jason Sweeney. The Pennsylvania teenager was killed by four other teenagers, 15 to 17. The weapons used to massacre the young man were a hammer, a hatchet and several large rocks. At one point during the attack, the hammer was struck so severely that it remained stuck in the victim skull while he continued to struggle for his life. During the trial, the teenage killers testified listening to Helter Skelter over and over, repeatedly for several hours before committing the murder. Helter Skelter, the same word smeared in victim's blood at Leslie Van Houten's crime scene. The prosecuting attorney, Drew Conroy, stated, quote, "It is really amazing. The teenagers from Philadelphia, Memorial Day weekend is attuned to the whole Helter Skelter mythology. It's a sad testament to the twisted, brutal life legacy those murders have left behind, such that attracts 15, 16, 17-year-olds. Over 40 years ago, 3000 miles across the country, it is a powerful legacy," end quote. The nexus of current dangerousness and the threat of Leslie Van Houten and her crimes to society, the wrecked, symbolic and cultural is current, lethal and malignant. On the suitability of parole, Commissioners, your task to ask Ms. Van Houten, who where you then, who are you today and what's the difference. These are genuinely relevant questions, but I'm compelled to ask the same. to those most impacted by Leslie Van Houten. Leno, where were you August 10th, 1969? Where are you now? What's the difference? Tell us, how does it feel to have a butcher knife sharp in your abdomen and throat over two dozen times as you hear the screams of your beloved in the distance? What's the difference of spending the rest of your life with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews for lying mutilated and dead for 52 years in a cold black coffin? Rosemary where you August 10th, 1969? Who are you today? What's the difference of spending a peaceful Sunday evening with your husband and being held against your will with a cord wrapped around your neck, a (Unintelligible) over your head, hearing your husband slaughtered in the next room with (Unintelligible) tools? What is it like to know that you too will be restrained and stabbed 41 times? How does it feel to have Leslie Van Houten spit on your memory and torment your family for the world to see on television, in books and in films? Tell us, Rosemary, (Unintelligible)? Leslie Van Houten and her attorneys assert that Ms. Van Houten is a changed, rehabilitated individual. One attorney stated, quote, "Ms. Van Houten is the most model prisoner in the system and has been for a long, long time. She cannot change her offenses, but she has changed herself," end quote. While the petitioner and her attorneys maintain she has changed, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca remain unchanged, unrehabilitated, unparoled, and they will remain so for a long, long time, for eternity. Commissioners with respect, I ask, how can either of you make amends for Leslie Van Houten when neither of you can make amends for her (Unintelligible)? Acknowledging that Leslie Van Houten's prions meet the Lawrence criteria on every level, specific to profound gravity, cruel and sadistic nature, the unspeakable loss and suffering she has caused, her lack of insight into the crimes, the minimization and her historical poisonous (Unintelligible) to society, even today, it is in the very least just that you deny parole to Leslie Van Houten for the longest period of time permitted by law. Thank you for your time.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. Who's going to be our next speaker?
MR. SMALDINO: I'll step up.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Okay. Um, as you know, I'm Lou Smaldino. I'm the, uh, oldest nephew of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Um, my mother was Leno's oldest sister. I have attended, uh, over 10 — I think this is the 11th or 12th of these hearings, uh, on the Manson family, and, uh, they have, um, that-that they've perpetrated our, uh, society, and in particular, uh, our family. Only one word describes these acts, depraved, or phrased differently, evil. What they, as a group, uh, and Ms. Van Houten did in particular, was beyond all norms for a civilized society, especially, uh, in the time, uh, we grew up, which was literally happy days. Now these, uh, people want to have us forget what they did and how they destroyed our families and loved ones with callous and total disregard for humanity. Ms. Van Houten and her cohorts came into the sanctity of people's homes, brutally murdered-murdered innocent people they did not even know just to start a race war. They want us to forget, but we honestly cannot. Lives had been shattered, fortunes lost and families shattered. Leno and Rosemary had five children who lost their parents. The other, uh, led to depression, severe depression for both my mother and my grandmother. Grandchildren, they never met their, uh, grandparents. A failed family business. In other words, irreparable damage has been visited in our family by these psychopaths. We come to these hearings because that is what the law allows. Ms. Van Houten is abusing the very laws that she and the Manson family outrageously violated. She is a total narcissist and only thinks about herself and freedom, not the damage she has done. She always minimizes her involvement in these heinous acts, and to this day assert that she was not the one of the leaders of the Manson family, and that road Mary and Leno were already dead when she stabbed him, but forgets to mention that she was angry that she was not allowed on the first night's murder spree. There's also the fact of her feeling remorse when she comes to these hearings, but conveniently forgets to mention that not once in 40 some years that she apologized to any member of our family for what she has done to us. Unbelievable. This process is all about Leslie and not about victims. She is the poster child for narcissism. What sane, normal person acts this way? She was given a death penalty that has never been carried out because of government failures to abuse by the people's will for people like her. She is blessed to be alive, yet that is not good enough for Ms. Van Houten. She believes she deserves to be free. She never — she should never pay for her crimes. About her testimony today, uh, the Commissioner asked her to, uh, testify about, uh, following the laws, drivers' laws. She mentioned, uh, she mentions, uh, avoiding a crash, not hurting other people. I find that, um, revealing as to where she comes from. Her main, uh, focus was material destruction, not to other vulnerable people. That's very narcissistic. It shows she's thinking about herself and material things as opposed to hurting people. That's what the laws are designed to do. I also find it very consistent that, uh, this inmate did not leave, at any time, uh, from the cult like many others did, but also says she was under Manson's control, which is — no amount of incarceration or remediation turns a psychopath or a narcissist into a normal human being. Ms. Van Houten has a defective and dangerous personality set. Her deeds speak much louder than her or her lawyer's works and the trusting of the legal system. If Ms. Van Houten had an ounce of compassion, she would cease to seek parole and accept a sentence of life in prison for what she has done. No member of the Manson family deserves parole, ever. There's still evil in their, in their beliefs and (Unintelligible) and try every trick in the book to secure their release. Unfortunately, our society has people who support this insanity, and we are all the worst for it. We are a compassionate society, but we are also a just society. Incarcerating Ms. Van Houten is both compassion, she is kept alive. And just because she is jailed for this — and just because she's a jail for these, uh, heinous murders. Therefore, our family — um, let's see. I think I have another insert here. In conclusion, the crimes committed by the inmate are serious and heinous to warrant her continued incarceration for life. These crimes terrorized all Californians and-and the nation and should never be allowed to happen again. One of the best ways to let everyone know that if you commit a crime like this, you will lose your own life or be incarcerated until you die. That is what justice, as well as prevention demand. Therefore, our family asks you humbly that you deny Ms. Van Houten parole for as long as possible and prevent any further abuse of the system. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak today.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. And, uh, (Unintelligible) speaker? Is she unmuted? Oh, where did she go?
MS. TATE: Am I unmuted and on camera?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Yes, yes.
MS. TATE: Okay, good. Good afternoon, Commissioners. And, uh —
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Please remember to repeat your name before you start, please.
MS. TATE: Sorry. My name is Deborah Tate. I am sister of Sharon Tate and representative for Leno LaBianca and Lou Smaldino, and actually, Rosemary LaBianca as well, since they are unfortunately not here to speak for themselves at the hands of Ms. Van Houten. Mr. DiMaria did a beautiful job in outlining a lot of discrepancies. So, I would like as to commend him for presenting to you a detailed recreation of all of the facts rather than the myth. The myth would have you think that Ms. Van Houten is still the homecoming queen. (Unintelligible) it's not a homecoming queen, she (Unintelligible), although she was molded, that was not her behavior, and it was not her behavior by choice, and it continued not to be her behavior for an indeterminant number of years. I have taken very detailed notes, as I always do, and could speak and address to, uh, quite a few circumstances that, uh, could be disputed today, but I'm only going to address one thing. She states that she was with the family for five to six months before the attitude changed from a hippie-loved commune to a murderous cult, and there was nothing going on until Charlie came back to the desert, which would be Barker Ranch. That is absolutely untrue because while they were in Spahn Ranch and in the Valley, Tex Watson would give rehearsals with (Unintelligible) knives on how to kill and make lethal, the-the-the knife rust lethal-lethal, excuse me, as well as they would perform creepy-crawlers at night, which would be to break into people's homes and exit without being caught. So, there was a constant mindset moving toward this violence. Now, Mr. DiMaria covered absolutely everything, so I'm not going to go back to other disputed facts in the myth that we know as Leslie Van Houten, but instead, I am going to read from Donna Lebowitz's parole hearings on the Lawrence act, and it says, "In the case, um, Lawrence, in rare circumstances, the aggravia-" uh, excuse me, I'm so sorry, "the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide basis for denying parole, Even when there are strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness. Under the Lawrence standard, this is one of those rare cases." Now, that, in my opinion, states everything, combine that with all of the acts and attitude that Mr. DiMaria quoted give us a much clearer picture of Ms. Van Houten's criminality, narcissistic personality, escalating into sociopath and eventually psychopathic behavior, if not for, uh, one case but many other circumstances as well. And on that, I would like to ask the Panel to please deny Ms. Leslie Van Houten parole. Thank you so much for your time.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. The Deputy Commissioner are going to exit the Teams meeting room to deliberate. Our pictures will drop review. Please remain online. We'll come back to this meeting room upon conclusion of our deliberations. The time is now 12:52 p.m., and we'll go off the record.
CALIFORNIA BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS DECISION
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: We're on the record.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. We're back on the record. Today is November 9th, 2021. The time is now 1:16 p.m. We will now reconvene this hearing for the pronouncement of the Panel's decision. All the same parties who were identified have returned for this decision in the matter of Ms. Van Houten, whose CDCR number is W13378, for multiple counts of first-degree murder, resulting in a sentence of seven years to life. The victims in this case were Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. In reaching our decision today, we must not act arbitrarily or capriciously and must consider all relevant, reliable information available. In doing so, we must determine if the inmate continues to pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, and a denial of parole must be based on evidence in the record of the inmate's current dangerousness. The law also requires us to give great weight to the mitigating effects of the diminished culpability of youths as compared to adults, the hallmark features of the youth and any subsequent growth and increased maturity in determining suitability for parole. We're also required to give special consideration to your age, long-term confinement and diminished physical condition, if any, when determining your suitability for parole. In this case, the Panel has read and considered the written record before us, including in the central file, the Comprehensive Risk Assessment, additional documents that were submitted during this hearing and prior to and earlier this week, we also considered Ms. Van Houten's testimony, statements from the victims' family member and representatives, statements from the inmate's attorney and the opposition letters that were received. We also wanted to put on the record that on January 1st, 2020, emergency regulations regarding recall of sentence under Penal Code Section 1170, Subdivision D, went into effect. On October 5th, 2020, the Office of Administrative Law adopted the emergency regulations as permanent regulations. Under the new adopted regulations, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can only recommend to a court to recall an inmate sentence under certain circumstances. Notably, under that, um, change, the Board is no longer a part of the 1170, Subsection D process. We also do note today that the confidential portion of the inmate's file was reviewed but was not relied on in making today's decision as nothing is in there that was relevant. Based on the legal standards and the evidence considered, we find that you do not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety and are, therefore, suitable for parole. In making this decision, we looked at factors that both aggravate and mitigate your risk. Looking at those aggravating factors, the first being, self-control. We did see that you were unable to control your behavior as a result of one or more of the following. The first being, negative peer pressure. You did associate with others who engaged in criminal and substance-using behavior. So, these were the Manson family members with whom you associated in the community and with whom you willingly engaged in extreme violence. We also see that you were easily manipulated and you were more likely to follow others than to follow the law. So, you described how when you were living on their ranch, you had your individuality stripped away from you over time, leaving you feeling as though you could not remain connected to anything from your prior life, and you also believe Manson to be the second coming of Christ, which obligated you to do whatever he wanted you to do (Unintelligible). You also were impulsive. You did fail to recognize or think of consequences when committing crimes or engaging in antisocial behaviors, and you were callous towards others. You did not consider how your actions would affect the victims and others at that time or for years to come. Today, we did find that factors aggravating your current risk were outweighed by factors that mitigate your current risk. The first is being the Comprehensive Risk Assessment. That assessment did determine that you posed a low risk of future violence. Meaning that you pose a non-elevated risk relative to other long-term offenders. Your criminal history is also mitigating. You have no prior criminal history. We note that you did have a few arrests in 1969 prior to the life crime for theft-related offenses, that you did not receive any convictions based on those arrests. Your programming is also mitigating. The factors identified in the Comprehensive Risk Assessment as remaining relevant for you have been addressed through active participation and completion of programming, most recently in groups, such as Cognitive Behavioral Interventions, the ISUDT, Mindful Meditation, Advanced Trauma group, NA, White Bison, Victim Impact, Transitions, VEOG, AVP, and the Lifers group. Your institutional behavior was also mitigating as well. You have had no serious misconduct, plus you have demonstrated behavior that goes above and beyond rule compliance as noted by many laudatory chronos you received for things such as being on Inmate Advisory Council, mentoring and tutoring hundreds of —
MR. SMALDINO: (Unintelligible), uh, you mailed that check to CVRE?
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Oh, Mr. Smaldino —
MR. SMALDINO: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Mr. Smaldino, I need you to mute your microphone. Okay, there we go. Okay, let me go back here. You have no serious misconduct, plus you have demonstrated behavior that goes above and beyond rule compliance as noted by many laudatory chronos you've received for such things as being on the Inmate Advisory Council, mentoring and tutoring hundreds of other inmates, facilitating and leading groups, such as NA, being a role model to other college students, and your long-term participation in the Actors' Gang, which taught you a lot about getting in touch with your emotions and more. Today, your offender change was also found to be mitigating as you clearly demonstrated change to the Panel today. We believe you do have understanding and self-awareness into the causative factors of those crimes. So, we talked to you today, and it's clear that you have examined who you were at the time of that crime and what led you to it. You described to us how you were looking to fit in, to be accepted and a way to really live your life, but in a way that you could do so differently from the traditional way that you felt really had not worked for you. After joining what was initially a peaceful, lovely, welcoming group, your individuality was eventually stripped away, leaving you as though you could not question Manson, his philosophy or directions, and this was a process. It wasn't something that, uh, happened overnight. It was one that a 19-year-old you didn't recognize at the time. Now, through your work in groups and therapy, you see what this process was while still recognizing and fully acknowledging that you were 100% in to commit this crime. Today, we see that you have developed tools to help you avoid being involved in anything like this in the future. You talked to us about really being careful about who you get involved with and let into your life, and the relapse prevention plan your turned in talks about maintaining boundaries. I don't know if we used that word during the hearing today, but really that's what you were describing to us, is really making sure you're letting people (Unintelligible) those who deserve to be there and those pro-social individuals. You also talked about really having a different focus to your life. It's really about service now, making demands continually, and we see that in what you've done and you have that focus. And so, that really guides the current things that you do and the people that you were involved with. You also talked to us about the 12 steps and how you work some of those steps, and you've talked about how particularly the making the inventories and addressing the issues you find was a big deal for you and also helpful to you to keep on track. Today, you also understand the impact of your crime on the victims and others, and you show remorse for that crime. You did acknowledge during the hearing how your actions affected others and those including the victims, their families, the community, and the fear it caused, as well as your own family. And you did express what the Panel believes was genuine remorse for your actions. We have seen that you work to make amends for your crime. As I said, you live a life of service, you dedicate yourself to mentoring and tutoring other inmates, and you do facilitate groups and you share your journey with others. We see that you have developed-developed impulse control. That's been demonstrated by you having no 115s for your entire, um, over 43-year prison term. We note that there's been no violence and no substance use. You also have developed pro-social connections, and that's been shown by you being a mentor and a tutor, as well as you're working as a facilitator and on the Inmate Council and developing a long-term group of friends and support network. Your release plan was also found to be mitigating. You do have concrete, realistic parole plans addressing most of the community stability factors. We see that you've been accepted to multiple transitional homes. You do have several offers of places to live after. We also thought it was very wise that you want to get to know these people who made these offers out in the community, so you can really make an informed decision and a proper place for you to live. We also note that you have marketable job skills and offers, and you do also plan to continue self- help in the community. You also plan to get a sponsor through NA, and you did connect to one person who I think would be able to support you in that role. And you did receive a multitude of support letters and turned in a relapse prevention plan. In addition, the Panel gave great weight to the following youth offender factors we found to be present. Looking first at the diminished culpability of youths as compared to adults, we saw at the time of the crime, parts of your brain were not fully matured resulting in a lack of impulse control, inability to plan ahead and an inability to avoid risks. You did demonstrate immature thinking. After your parents divorced in the early 1960s, your life derailed, causing you to search for acceptance and meaning, which you believed you had felt with Manson and his other followers. You also were subjected to a negative environment, and that environment appears to have substantially impacted your thinking. Your parents divorced when you were 14 in the early '60s when it was uncommon. That did cause loss of status for you and you're feeling the community leaving you, feeling like you no longer fit in with your former peer group. We also saw that you had limited control over your environment. So, you did run away at age 17. After you became pregnant, you returned home only to have your mother arrange an abortion five months into that pregnancy, which became a secret that you were forced to keep for many years. Next, looking at the hallmark features of youth, we do see at the time of the crime, parts did exhibit some of those resulting from your incomplete brain development. Your actions lead to and throughout the commission of your crime demonstrate significant immaturity in your thinking and decision- making. Your actions and decisions also demonstrated impulsive thinking, which resulted in poor decisions and explicable reactions to your circumstances. You also were more vulnerable and susceptible to negative influences and did lead to your deviant behavior. As a youth offender, we also note that you were more capable of change than an adult, and your actions as a youth were less likely to be evidence of irretrievably depraved character than had you committed them as an adult. You have demonstrated an increased ability to change. We next looked at the subsequent growth and increased maturity you had while incarcerated, and we see that you have engaged in considered reflection and have made a significant attempt to think about the reasons for and impact of your decisions. You also have demonstrated maturity in your judgment through impulse control, development of pro- social relationships and independence from negative influences. Your growth has also resulted in some positive institutional programming. We did see that you've earned your college degree. You've worked in many jobs over the years with excellent supervisory reports and laudatory chronos, and you have engaged in much self-help. You also demonstrated additional rehabilitation by mentoring other inmates and facilitating self-help groups. We also gave special consideration to your advanced age, length of incarceration and your diminished physical condition when determining parole today. Specifically, we determined that these factors reduce your risk for future violence. Today, you're 72 years old and you have been in CDCR custody for over 43 years. Physically, you do have some medical issues that somewhat reduce your risk for violence. Cognitively, you do not appear to have any age-related decline that would hinder your judgment or increase your risk of behaving aggressively. Overall, we note that you have no documented incidences of violence in the past 51 years. At age 72, you have no interest in being aggressive or violent. You have demonstrated a long-term ability to maintain impulse control, as well as an ability to detect and avoid any situation that might lead to violence. The elderly parole factors do reduce your risk for future violence. Ms. Van Houten, the Panel finds you credible today, and that you do take full responsibility for your actions and do not minimize in any way. The grant of parole to you is a powerful statement of what CDCR can and does do, and people are given hope through rehabilitation. In your case, CDCR took someone who was considered the worst of the worst and facilitated the transformation of that into the person you are today. An educated woman, a model citizen, an empathetic person who looks for ways to help others and making amends, and completely aware of and taking responsibility for the devastation you caused. Now, let me check with my colleague and see if has any additional comments he'd like to add.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CASTRO: No, you covered it all. Good luck, ma'am.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: Thank you. Based on these findings, we do conclude that you do not pose an unreasonable risk of danger or a threat to public safety, and accordingly, the Panel finds you suitable for parole. This decision is not final. It will be reviewed by the Board for up to 120 days, followed by a review by the Governor for up to 30 days. You'll be notified in writing if there any changes to this decision. If you're released from prison, you'll be subject to all the general conditions of parole required by law, as well as any special conditions of parole imposed by the Division of Adult Parole Operations. In addition, this Panel orders the following additional special conditions of parole. To participate in a transitional housing program for a minimum of six months. We know you have acceptances to multiple. Any of those are, uh, acceptable to this panel. We won't order a specific place, but we want to make sure that if you release that there's a bed available at the time. We're also going to order for you not to contact or communicate with the family of your deceased victims, and to participate in an evaluation with the Behavioral Health Reintegration program and any treatment deemed appropriate for successful adjustment parole, and that will help you assist and continue the therapy in the community.
INMATE VAN HOUTEN: Yes. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER THORNTON: We're also going to order for you not to possess or consume marijuana or any other controlled substance and to submit to random testing for those substances and to participate in a substance abuse relapse prevention program at the direction of your parole officer. I do want to think everyone who participated in the hearing today. The time is now 1:33 p.m., and this hearing is adjourned.