Not Everyone Deserves a 2nd Chance
In 1969, both were members of the Charley Manson gang.
Under the influence of Manson at the age of 20, Van Houten invaded the home of Rosemary LaBianca on the night of August 10, 1969 and fatally stabbed her 16 times. Van Houten was sentenced to death on March 29, 1971. Retried a couple of times and finally sentenced to life imprisonment.
Squeaky Fromme never killed anyone. On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme tried to shoot President Gerald Ford with a .45 cal automatic but her gun did not have a round in the firing chamber. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Today, after three decades behind bars, Squeaky Fromme walked.
Leslie Van Houten, also 60, remains in prison. I am not writing this column about Van Houton. For detailed treatment of her circumstances, I recommend John Waters, Leslie Van Houten: A Friendship.
In Squeaky Fromme's case, her release is a miscarriage of justice.
In a democracy, political killings are distinguished from common murders. That’s why many of them are called assassinations. The killing of a political leader, a witness in a court trial, writer or a journalist is a blow against the nation itself and its constitution. It is intended to silence the victim, to deny society of his/her further contribution in words or deeds. Such anti-democratic atrocities deserve paramount attention from all of us and all of our institutions. They should be punished to the fullest extent permitted under law, short of capital punishment.
And that applies to attempted/unsuccessful assassinations.
To liberate Squeaky Fromme today, when fools are allowed to carry side arms to raucous town meetings and confront political leaders is insane. The message will not go unnoticed in the twilight shadows and swamplands of America.