Death penalty revisited: What was accomplished by not executing Charles Manson?

So what did the state of California accomplish by commuting the death sentence of serial killer Charles Manson to life imprisonment?

We’ve had discussions about the death penalty before, with most readers opposed to it no matter who the victims were and how many lives were affected in the aftermath of the crimes.

So, Manson has been held in a prison since 1969, and has had more than 100 disciplinary violations while he has been there — having his three square meals a day — including assaulting a prison guard.

But even more alarming, he has managed to influence and delude people outside the prison system. Yes, there are modern-day followers of Charles Manson out there, one of whom — a woman, now 28, who calls herself “Star” — has been allowed to visit the deranged killer in prison. They were even given permission to marry, but it never happened, apparently. Star and another Manson follower have created Charles Manson websites, complete with messages from him.

And on and on the madness goes.

Of course, in the United States, mass murder has become far too common — to the point now that a week after a mass shooting incident, much of the population has simply shrugged it off and forgotten about it. So, no one would be surprised, I suppose, if a deluded modern-day Manson follower were to commit such a crime.

Many in America insist people should be allowed to carry guns, and they accept that sometimes, deranged people will commit horrendous crimes with those guns. It’s a fact of life — and death. But it’s not OK to execute murderers like Charles Manson. Nope, it’s better to let him live in prison for decades from where he can continue to infect the minds of deluded people outside the prison system, through social media. It’s OK to make him look like a hero to some people out there — and if keeping him alive in prison still creates a risk for society, so be it.

Today, as Charles Manson reportedly lies close to death in a hospital, many people on social media are hoping he dies a painful death. Some are ready to celebrate when his death is announced.

So, what good came of keeping him alive all these years?

— Jillian

Photo: Charles Manson in 2014. Source: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Wikipedia.

6 thoughts on “Death penalty revisited: What was accomplished by not executing Charles Manson?

  1. Refused to read the article beyond the heading.

    The arguments are the same as they were last week, last month, last year, or 30 years ago, for or against, good or bad. There is no point raising it on a regular schedule to just elicit some sort of reaction and any further response is utterly spurious. Move on to more pertinent topics, whatever they may be.


    1. Well, with respect, if you did not read the post, you can’t comment on the additional points made, that is, about the continued threat to society posed by Manson and the damage he may have caused since his incarceration. However, I get your point of view: no death penalty for anyone for any reason. So, if I ever raise the subject again, skip the post and don’t waste your time commenting on it at all.



      1. I did consider not responding, purely and solely because I anticipated that the response you have made is the one that you, sadly and predictably, would make. It is inevitably disappointing to be able to anticipate with a high degree or expectation some people’s stock, cliched response when a more novel response would be so much more refreshing and thought-provoking. But not responding would have been surrendering to the inevitable and to some degree to social conditioning and expectation. Just sometimes I dislike conforming to that apparent inevitability. Sometimes it is not necessary to read beyond the headline because the expectation is that the content of the message is not really either novel or thought-provoking.

        Countries that retain the death penalty have a habit of sustaining a very cavalier attitude to the sanctity of life, failing to go the extra mile to give the benefit of doubt to the accused and making sure that where there is any doubt as to guilt of dropping a prosecution in the interest of human rights and confidence in the judicial system. US states where the death penalty is retained have the most callous and casual propensity to execute innocent people after loading the prosecutory system against them in ways that are reckless, casual and politically charged. It is disturbing that a judicial system should operate on the basis of what the prosecutor decides is mostly aligned with their political promotion and survival. The election of AGs and judges to the American judicial system has to be one of the most dysfunctional, perverse and judicially unsound arrangements anywhere in the Western World.

        At least if you decide not to execute a person that you have unfairly prosecuted for murder their is always the possibility of saying “Sorry”. Saying sorry to a corpse (which their accusors never acknowledge in any event because that would be admitting to wrong-doing) is such a waste of time and a complete insult to anyone who actually genuinely cares.

        But then these arguments have been made before and will continue to be made, all to no avail because those who are in favour of state murder in the form of revenge, really don’t give a damn, for all sorts of reasons, such as their dysfunction as rational but caring humans, but more so because of their inability or unwillingness to empathize because they can’t conceive, in their simple-minded arrogance, of the boot ever being on the other foot, ie that they might be an innocent accused.


      2. Some people are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Charles Manson was one such person. I simply asked what was achieved by not executing him. You didn’t answer my question: What good was served by keeping him alive, and letting him assault people in prison and lead more people outside of prison astray?

        One journalist friend opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances suggested that authorities retained their dignity by not executing Manson. That is a fair response. But the journalist friend also pointed out that the U.S. has kept Manson in prison for the rest of his life, while in Canada he probably would have been released in 20 or 25 years.

        I totally get your position, and that of my friend’s and others. However, I feel that the death penalty is warranted in some situations, and may actually be doing the convicted person a favour, spiritually speaking — (re: karma).

        I sense your dissatisfaction with my blog. I write it to generate discussion, not to try to change your views. I don’t expect people to agree with all of my posts, and I sometimes play the devil’s advocate. However, if you find it too cliched and predictable and aren’t enjoying it, you don’t have to read it. It is only a blog, after all. I appreciate the input you have given here, and wish you well.



  2. Manson’s legacy would continue with followers whether he were dead or alive. Sick people will always find a reason for a murderous episode- if Manson never existed, someone else would fill the need. There will always be a bad guy to inspire evil.


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