But when do you finally decide, if ever, to say enough is enough?
Enough hashing over the crimes, enough saying I’m sorry, enough contrite expressions to Parole Board members who mean nothing to you…
Charles Manson long ago gave up the fight for freedom as even he, in his more lucid moments, knew that if anyone associated with these crimes would be punished indefinitely, whether as a political prisoner or not, Charlie would be that person, so enough was enough, for him, quite some time ago.
But for the members of Charlie’s Family, knowing when enough would be, has not been quite as defined, and their yearning for freedom, in any form, be it parole, indefinite monitoring or term served, has never been quenched.
And specifically for Bruce Davis, this coming Thursday January 28th (if not postponed by the Board of Prison Terms, that is) will be his 23rd attempt to obtain parole, the yearning for freedom, for him, marches on, that if a tiny sliver of hope still exists, the participation in such an emotionally exhausting process is, for him, worth the price of admission.
Some seventeen years after his 1993 Parole Hearing when even Deputy District Attorney Jeff Jonas admitted,
“I told Mr. Davis at one time – he asked me, well, how long is long enough? His wife has asked me. And I said if you’re asking me you should go 25 years before they even consider you. And Mr. Davis’ progress has made me – made me want to mellow a little bit on that, but – and I’m telling you that I think within the next two or three years I probably will be prepared, if I’m the representative of this office, to indicate that I think – and Mr. Davis continues on the path that he’s taking, I will probably recommend a release date based upon the progress that I think he has made and the fact that he has totally rejected the philosophy.
And I’m not certain that he bought in as others bought in. But he has to pay the price. And we’re talking about the law and the law of aiding and abetting. That means he’s been legally convicted and basically that’s two homicides. And on a matrix – on a matrix that probably gets up there a little bit – with the attendant difficulties, and you have a way to aggravate that, that probably put ups – puts it up there higher than that. I thought I checked that once, may be in the 30 range, but with good-time credits and everything, I think that I’m right on track.”
…Davis is STILL a prisoner, some ten years after Jonas’ calculation of 30 years not considering good-time credits.
Beyond one’s own opinion of when enough time served is enough, every one of the Manson Family members who committed murder has to now be considered suffering under what one can only describe as socio-political pressure.
If this is so, is this kind of pressure to punish beyond what is normally considered legally and morally just in similar crimes, apropos to these murderers and their crimes?
Jonas, as if trying to answer that very question states,
“And if I had my way based upon the views of not – I’m speaking personally, that probably none of those people [Manson Family convicted murderers] should ever be paroled just based upon the amount of damage that has been done…the Manson family was on the cutting edge of a new era in criminology, if you will….I think that this panel has an obligation to look at the life crime, look at all the other factors,…how it affect – impacted society, and Mr. Davis’ involvement in that means he has to pay a price and it’s going to be a bigger price than a lot of other people paid.”
I don’t think it’s too exaggerated to say that The Manson Family murderers were one of if not the first group of domestic terrorists North America had ever faced. Maybe they didn’t intend for their actions to be so overwhelming to American society when they committed these crimes but when theses crimes were committed the rest of society feared that every Hippie they saw on their street corner in their small town or large city could and would do the same kind of violent act on them as they had done on those victims in Los Angeles. And it was this over-riding fear of a pandemic of murder that lifted these murders and these murderers above and beyond what is considered the norm in American Justice.
Was this the kind of socio-political/legal measuring stick envisioned by these murderers as the length and breadth they would have to surmount? Did they intend to re-write legal history and alter criminal justice practises when they executed these murders? Most likely not.
But their willingness to go out, kill and subsequently terrorize even the residents of Topanga Canyon, Bel Air and Chatsworth was their decision to make, and the consequences, whatever they were after the damage was done and the fall-out counted, was what each and every one of these killers had to endure as their price for decisions made forty years ago.
If one goes strictly “by-the-book”, most of The Manson Family killers would be out on Parole by now. But these killers didn’t commit murder strictly “by-the-book”, the public was not affected by The Family’s actions strictly “by-the-book” and so their punishment has not and cannot be measured “by-the-book” as well.
Seventeen years after ADA Jonas uttered the words - “Anyway, my – my statement today is that I – if you’re asking me today should he get a date, I say no. But I’m telling you that he’s very, very close.” - Bruce Davis is still incarcerated for the questionable sentences of First Degree murder for the deaths Gary Hinman and Donald Shea.
Even if the measuring stick is extraordinarily high, is there ever a specific time and a place and a convict who can surmount such a judgement, and will it be this Thursday at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo with forty year plus inmate, Bruce McGregor Davis, CDC#B-41079?
“COMMISSIONER KOENIG: Okay. Do you fear Manson today?
INMATE DAVIS: No.
COMMISSIONER KOENIG: Do you have a fear of him?
INMATE DAVIS: No.
COMMISSIONER KOENIG: Not at all?
INMATE DAVIS: Not at all.”
Maybe the proper question to have asked Davis was not if he feared Manson “today” but if he ever felt enough fear of him to commit murder…
And therein may lie the answer to the Bruce Davis’ $64,000 Question – parole or no parole after forty plus years…
Do YOU know the answer?
It’s yours and the Parole Board’s to make.