Monday, November 20, 2017

Manson death should re-ignite needed criminal justice reform

Cult killer Charlie Manson's death yesterday at 83 would have purpose if it could re-focus efforts to reform justice for murderers, even the most heinous.

Manson and his three young female followers were all sentenced to death but given life sentences due to a technicality invoked by the Supreme Court. None of the four should have been sentenced to death, and the two remaining alive, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Krenwinkel, should be released without further delay if arrangements can be secured for a safe and stable home life.

The death penalty, still legal in 31 states and the federal government, serves no societal purpose whatsoever; indeed it causes harm to the political culture by glorifying the very thing it is intended to punish and prevent: senseless death.

Life imprisonment for all but incorrigibles like Manson, is also an unnecessary, wasteful use of criminal justice resources. There is virtual agreement among criminal justice experts that the young Manson girls were incapable of criminal intent or action but for the Svengali like and drug induced control Manson exerted over them. They're old women simply soaking up precious space and money that would be better spent on truly dangerous felons.

If his death could move these overdue criminal justice reforms over the finish line, it would represent an important plus gleaned from the grotesque life of Charlie Manson.


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