Charles Manson is getting married.
Forgive me for not sending best wishes to the groom.
Manson is serving a life sentence for orchestrating the murders of seven people in Southern California in 1969 including actress Sharon Tate.
Manson — for the record — had spent 16 years in prisons and juvenile facilities for a wide variety of crimes ranging from burglary and auto theft to sodomy and fraud before cobbling together his murderous family. Two of his family members were later convicted on two separate occasions for trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford — once in Sacramento and again in San Francisco.
Manson was sentenced to death but in 1972 the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty in its form at the time was unconstitutional. At that point Manson’s sentence was commuted to life. Manson, now 80, has been rejected 12 times for parole. He is not eligible to seek parole again until 2027 when he turns 93.
His bride-to-be is 26-year-old Elaine Burton who fell in love with Manson as a 17-year-old after reading what politely might be described as a bunch of bunk where Manson saw himself as a naturalist and eco-warrior.
The Midwest transplant moved near Corcoran State Prison so she could spend hours at a time with him on weekends. She also maintains a website known as mansondirect.com that maintains Manson’s innocence and runs Manson’s official Facebook page.
All of this, I guess, makes interesting reading.
But you wouldn’t be reading it if Manson had been put to death as a jury originally deemed appropriate.
Taxpayers have paid well over $2.2 million to keep Manson alive for the past 44 years.
Opponents of the death penalty argue that it is too expensive given the appeals and higher costs of incarceration. But Manson has been a lifer and not on death row for 42 of the past 44 years. Had he been on death row the entire time the tab would be in excess of $4 million,
What does it say us when we don’t execute cold-blooded murderers like Manson?
Manson and others like Night Stalker Richard Ramirez (who died in prison after waiting 23 years for his execution for the murders of 13 people) and a long list other multiple murderers on California’s death row can’t be rehabilitated.
And given the heinous nature and multiple murders they were responsible for they shouldn’t even be given the opportunity for rehabilitation.
There are 745 inmates on California’s Death Row. The overwhelming majority are multiple murderers with absolutely no question of their guilt. Some are like Robert Alton Harris executed in 1992 for the murder of two teen boys in San Diego in 1978. Harris was out of prison for killing his roommate for only a few days when he kidnapped the boys and the car they were in at a drive-in, drove them to a remote location, made them beg for their lives and (by his own account) laughed as he shot each of them and then polished off their hamburgers. The car was used in a bank robbery a few days later.
Then there are others like the Scorecard Killer Randy Kraft convicted in 1984 of the rape, vicious torture, and murder of 16 boys and young men although authorities believe he killed at least 51. He still breathes in San Quentin.
The 745 death row inmates are kept alive at the cost of $67 million a year. Death penalty foes say that is why we should do away with capital punishment. However, the 745 men and women like Randy Kraft would still cost taxpayers $34 million a year with the added bonus they could be paroled.
Sorry, but we have better things to spent $34 million a year on.
If we believe the lives of Randy Kraft and Charlie Manson have redeeming value we really need to get a grip.
If a dog kills one or more people we don’t warehouse it for the rest of its natural life providing them with food, water, shelter, and medical care. They are put to death.
To argue that all human life has value regardless cheapens the lives that Kraft, Manson, et al took.
And let’s make it clear, they didn’t just take lives — they tortured their victims. William Bronin — another Death Row resident who languished for 16 years before dying of natural causes — is believed to have raped and killed upwards of 36 teen boys and young men. Before killing them he beat them numerous times across the head with blunt objects such as a tire iron, forced them to drink hydrochloric acid and often would jam ice picks into their ears. Then there are other murderers on death row who tortured their victims with inventive means such as injecting them repeatedly with Windex before strangling them.
Lethal injection, by comparison, is downright humane and civilized.
Making it worse is the fact society is focused only on the convicted killers and not their victims. Nearly 50 years after Manson’s terrorized Southern California he still breathes and his name bantered about. And thanks to his bride-to-be he still has what he always wanted — a following — via the Internet and Facebook.
All the state did was crimp Manson’s style so he hopefully can’t engineer murderous sprees from Corcoran although that isn’t out of the realm of possibilities thanks to contraband cell phones.
The fact Manson is still breathing is an injustice.
The fact he’s getting married is outrageous given he made sure that Sharon Tate’s son — who she was 8.5 months pregnant with at the time of her killing and who was repeatedly stabbed in his mother’s womb — never was born let alone had the opportunity to marry.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.