Death Penalty and Charlie Manson’s Cult

So I just finished reading Vincent Bugliosi’s account of the Charlie Manson trials. (If you are surprised by my reading choices during a vacation, remember that I have high blood pressure which I’m always trying to keep in check).

I have always been completely opposed to the death penalty for the obvious reasons. However, reading this kind of book is enough to make one wonder. At the time the book was updated several years ago, Charlie Manson – who hadn’t even been present when the crimes were committed – was incarcerated at a maximum security facility. The women who committed the brutal murders, however, were living in two-person cottages, kept getting married and spent their days making quilts, composing songs, and playing guitars. They never had to work for a day for their living. The taxpayers were the ones who had to work to keep these murderers in food, guitars, and wedding arrangements. They are all eligible for parole, too.

I didn’t suddenly become a death penalty supporter after reading the book. It did, however, disturb me. There is something deeply wrong here that needs to be repaired.

25 thoughts on “Death Penalty and Charlie Manson’s Cult”

  1. There is something deeply wrong here that needs to be repaired.


    No, it doesn’t. Try making a real American quilt yourself and see. Manson got off easy!


  2. Actually the death penalty is more expensive than life in prison. The security in those cells on death row, the general maintenance, and all the appeals and verifications, and maintenance of the death chamber, and so on.

    Chowchilla, the women’s prison in CA where they were incarcerated, isn’t actually known for having good conditions. I’d really check the Bugliosi story description of life there against some other sources.


  3. @Mict

    Want cheaper, just put the rabid dogs down quicker.


    If you want a good example for the death penalty you need look no further than clifford olsen. Murdered at least 13 kids and who knows what else he did. He has pretty much made it clear that he would do it again if he got out. How anyone can think its humane to keep this sick, deranged human alive is beyond me? We treat our animals better than this. If they go rabid we put them out of their misery before they bite. I would have no problem pulling the plug on that guy.


    1. You’re poorly informed, Tit for Tat. What gets the death penalty the most often is lack of funds for private lawyer, having a white victim, and being the fall guy in a group (very often people on death row have fall partners in main prison, who are the actual murderer but were cleverer at trial, etc.). Cf. (for instance). Also, there are more errors in capital cases than in others, and the whole thing is really political. And it takes time to examine these cases for errors — it takes time to reexamine any trial — it takes years within main prison (i.e. non capital cases) to get these things reviewed, too.

      Also, with budget cuts, there are fewer courtrooms, judges and other staff, and it takes still longer for things to get done. So keep your cool. Remember that when you kill innocent suspects out of spite and so you can feel good, the perpetrator at whom you are so angry is still free.


    2. I would generally agree with you TitforTat, if it were not for the incredibly horrible justice system we have in North America. If there was some confidence that those convicted were truly guilty, then I would be more willing to support capital punishment. There are only a handful of convicts that fall into ‘no doubt – pull the plug’ type criminals – Olsen, Picton, Dahmer, Bundy, Manson, Bernardo, Holmoka.


        1. That is why I made it clear that there would be an admission of guilt and also a trial that also has an evidentiary basis for guilt. Its not rocket science, you kill multiple times, you admit it, the evidence points to your guilt and you also have the sick mind to say you would do it again. Explain to me why it is humane to keep such an individual alive? The perverse part of this are the people who think someone like this should be kept caged for their lifetime. Where is the humanity in that? Just imagine an earthquake in British Colombia and Clifford Olsen escapes, remember he pretty much admits what he would like to continue doing. Im not talking about potential innocent individuals, Im talking about predators, plain and simple.


      1. Patrick is correct. As Moses Maimonides said: “It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.”
        That’s unfortunately, not what happens in America. So many have been pardoned after being sentenced to death in light of new and rigorous DNA evidence, making it clear that it’s a very flawed system that does not offer true justice.
        There’s also a rather grim joke that’s told by pre-law students: “It’s called capitol punishment because those without the capitol get the punishment.” which is also very sadly, true.


        1. I thought it was Oliver Wendel Holmes who said that – but it’s still just as true. And there is something wrong with the system when 70% of the death row convicts are minorities, yet the homicide rate isn’t significantly higher in any minority group. Furthermore, most homicides are spouse on spouse, not 3rd party unknown assailants. So the proportion of capital crimes ought to be more even.


  4. Geez, what’s wrong with some of you guys? If you kill, you fry, simple as that. Sorry if I don’t have much compassion for killers or most criminals, but I live in an area with a high crime rate near NYC and I don’t feel sorry for these losers at all. I may sound like a fascist, but prison should suck, it should be awful so criminals won’t think it’s a holiday and we should have the death penalty, the quicker the better so we don’t pay for these jerks’ upkeep for twenty years. I’m not a Christian so I don’t have any qualms about killing bad guys, whenever I read the news I want to buy a gun and shoot bad guys so I or my family won’t be victims, sometimes I hate people.


    1. Vanessa,
      Again, capital punishment is a legit punishment if there is certainty in the guilty verdict. Far too often, there is not. The person convicted happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (David Milgard – look him up) or happened to be the wrong colour. Juries are prone to putting “someone” away for the crime – the average person doesn’t have the capability to grasp the nuances of evidence, and being able to separate fact from opinion. If there weren’t SO many wrongful convictions within our judicial systems. There is no going back once you’ve fried the wrong guy.


      1. *Juries are prone to putting “someone” away for the crime – the average person doesn’t have the capability to grasp the nuances of evidence, and being able to separate fact from opinion.*

        Isn’t it a great reason against juries, with no connection to one’s views on capital or any other punishment?


        1. Talk to the average person after an criminal acquittal – the reaction is almost certainly “They got off on a technicality; they got away with murder, etc. . . ” There is the basic assumption that if someone has been charged, then they must be guilty – why else would they be charged.

          I do favour capital punishment – but only in extremely limited circumstances. For instance, Paul Bernardo from Toronto ought to fry – we have the videotapes of him torturing, raping and killing his victims. They found the severed heads in Jeffrey Dahmer’s freezer – another good candidate for a quick trip to the chamber.

          Furthermore, I include myself in that group of average people who don’t have the capability to evaluate criminal evidence. I’m just smart enough to know what I don’t understand. My personal opinion – the jury system may be the worst creation in the history of jurisprudence. Judges are well versed and experienced in law – let them earn their keep.


    1. If someone gets caught and the evidence points to their guilt and then they actually ADMIT their guilt, who then can honestly say the death penalty is not valid? Bernardo, Olson, Dahmer……………..the list goes on and so does our expense, well maybe not in the case of Dahmer, it seems justice found another way.


      1. I despise quoting movies, but look no further than “My Cousin Vinny” for how easy it is to create a confession. It’s a comedy, done in a comedic way, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, which makes it scary.


      1. It isnt for nothing that a confession was called “the queen of evidence” and formed the basis of Stalin’s system of jurisprudence. It was so easy to get confessions.


        1. I mentioned that the evidence would also need to be included as the basis for guilt. It obvious that no matter how clear the guilt is certain individuals are not for the death penalty. Regardless, I stand by my position that in some cases it is much more humane to put the individual out of their(and our) misery.


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