Leslie Van Houten, a member of the Manson clan leaves prison after 53 years | International

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Leslie Van Houten in 2017, during one of her more than twenty hearings with the California Department of Prisons.Stan Lim (AP)

Leslie Van Houten caresses freedom. The member of the Manson Family has obtained probation on Tuesday after having paid a sentence of 53 years in a California prison for the murder of two people, which occurred in 1969. Van Houten, who is 73 years old, has left prison this morning and she has been transferred to a transitional residence, a dwelling that will allow her to prepare for her return to society over the next year.

The prison authority has been recommending parole for years for Van Houten, who was 19 years old when the group of hippies committed the crimes. But this had been prevented by the state governors, who have the last word. California Gov. Gavin Newsom had banned it three times, as had his predecessor, fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, in 2018. Last week, Newsom said he would not abide by an appeals court ruling ordering the ban. release of the murderer Doing so would force him to take the case to the California Supreme Court. "The governor is disappointed by the court's decision, but he will not seek criminal action because an appeal is unlikely to be successful," the governor's spokesman said.

Charles Manson, who died of natural causes in 2017, and four followers of his sect were sentenced to death in 1971 for the heinous crimes that shocked the world. The sentences were commuted to life imprisonment the following year by court ruling. Van Houten participated in the murder of the grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary, committed in August of that year in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. During the attack, Van Houten covered the woman's head with a pillowcase and stabbed her at least 14 times. The clan's followers later used the couple's blood to write on the walls of the residence, located northeast of the city. Van Houten, however, was not present at the slaying of Sharon Tate and four others at the Benedict Canyon home of Roman Polanski, which took place the night before the LaBiancas' deaths.

Van Houten, originally from Monrovia, a town east of Los Angeles, only completed high school as a free man. The divorce of her parents meant a misfortune for her that opened the doors to the world of drugs. At the age of 14, she began using lysergic acid, LSD. At 17 she got pregnant and had an abortion. By early 1968 she found a new family on the Spahn ranch, which was the center of operations for the Manson clan.

The Department of Prisons has recommended Van Houten's conditional release more than five times since 2016. In total, the inmate has been evaluated by prison authorities more than 20 times. With the exception of an incident in 1981 of “verbal exchanges with other women”, her conduct in the Chino prison was faultless. Behind bars, she continued her career as a student. She studied a bachelor's degree and many other postgraduate degrees.

The most important thing for the board studying whether to grant the third degree of prison was that he had repented of his crimes. “There is strong evidence of his rehabilitation and no evidence that he poses a current danger,” Governor Brown said in 2018. “More than 50 years after these horrific murders were committed, the families of the victims are still feeling the impact.” Newsom said in his statement last week.

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