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Is Charles Manson in Prison?

Charles Manson is one of the most infamous criminals in American history. As the cult leader of the “Manson Family”, he orchestrated the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders that shocked the nation in 1969. Over 50 years later, Manson remains a household name, synonymous with evil and manipulation. But where is he now? Is Charles Manson actually still in prison after all these decades?

A Brief History of Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Charles Manson was born in 1934 and had a very troubled childhood which involved a series of crimes and stints in reform schools and prisons. After being released from prison in 1967, he began attracting followers, mostly young women, into a cult known as the “Manson Family”.

Manson preached an apocalyptic philosophy to his followers, claiming an imminent race war would arise. He also cultivated the image of himself as a Christ-like figure. Through charisma, manipulation, and LSD, he gained absolute control over his Family.

In 1969, Manson ordered members of his Family to commit a series of murders in Los Angeles. This included the infamous slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and her friends at her home. The next day, Manson’s followers brutally stabbed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca to death.

These shocking crimes gripped the nation and catalyzed fear about hippie communes and drug culture. Manson and his followers were arrested and brought to trial in 1970. He was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Originally sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty in 1972.

Where is Charles Manson Now?

So decades later, where is Charles Manson today?

Charles Manson died in prison on November 19, 2017 at the age of 83. He spent nearly 50 years incarcerated, well over half his life.

Manson was denied parole 12 times during his decades in prison. His last parole hearing was in 2012, which he did not even attend.

From 1971 until his death, Manson was imprisoned at Corcoran State Prison in central California. This high security facility has a capacity for over 3,000 inmates.

Manson lived in solitary confinement in a small cell away from other prisoners. This was done for his own protection, as he had received threats from other inmates. However, he had occasional interactions with members of a local prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood.

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In January 2017, Manson was hospitalized in critical condition with gastrointestinal issues. He was deemed too weak for surgery and returned to prison under hospice care. Manson ultimately died of cardiac arrest resulting from colon cancer complications on November 19, 2017 at a hospital in Bakersfield, California.

With his death, the dark legacy of Charles Manson finally came to an end. He spent nearly half a century behind bars, as punishment for the terrible crimes he influenced his followers to commit.

Timeline of Charles Manson’s Prison Time

Here is a timeline of the major events during Charles Manson’s incarceration from 1971 until his death in 2017:

1971Manson convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Sentenced to death along with three followers.
1972California supreme court abolishes death penalty. Manson’s sentence commuted to life in prison.
1975Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
1978Manson follower Leslie Van Houten denied parole for the first time.
1986Manson moved from Folsom State Prison to California Medical Facility prison in Vacaville.
1989First time Manson denied parole. Would be denied parole 12 times.
1997Manson moved to Corcoran State Prison where he would spend the rest of his life.
2007Manson interviewed by Erik Hedegaard for Rolling Stone article “The Last Confession of Charles Manson”
2012Manson’s final parole hearing. He did not attend.
2017Hospitalized and returns to prison under hospice care. Dies on November 19 at age 83.

This table illustrates how after his 1971 conviction, Manson spent the rest of his life confined in a series of California prisons. Despite repeated parole hearings, he remained behind bars for over 46 years due to the severity of his crimes.

What Were Charles Manson’s Prison Conditions Like?

Charles Manson spent most of his prison sentence in solitary confinement. This protected him from threats of violence from other prisoners. However, his isolation also reflected the danger he posed by potentially influencing other inmates.

Manson was housed in a small cell, approximately 6 by 4 feet. For one hour per day, he was permitted to shower or exercise alone in a small yard. He was granted sporadic television privileges but did not have much access to other inmates. Prison officials tightly controlled any gifts, letters, or outside contacts.

In 2009, Manson recorded an album titled Air with a cell phone. An inmate in a nearby cellblock converted his songs to digital format and leaked them. After this incident, Manson lost his phone privileges.

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Manson received hundreds of letters from supporters and collectors of murderabilia over the decades. The State of California withheld the earnings from any merchandise bearing his likeness. Manson fought this unsuccessfully in court.

While imprisoned, Manson granted occasional phone interviews to reporters. During a call with Rolling Stone in 2013, he ranted about pollution and made anti-Semitic remarks. Reporters noted his rambling, deteriorating mental state during these late interviews.

Manson’s notoriety led to security concerns during medical treatments in his final years. At his last parole hearing in 2012, he was deemed too frail to be dangerous. By 2017, Manson relied on a wheelchair and was severely limited by his failing health.

Did Charles Manson Show Remorse in Prison?

Charles Manson showed no real remorse for his crimes during his decades incarcerated. He maintained a stance that denied responsibility and showed limited comprehension of the suffering he had inflicted.

Manson argued he had never killed anyone himself. He rationalized that society forced him into his beliefs and extremism. During his 1985 parole hearing he stated, “I don’t even understand what you want me to feel guilty about.”

However, Manson did express vague musings about karma and accepting punishment for past mistakes. He denied that guilt or remorse would change anything. “What is done is done,” he stated in a 1986 television interview.

In his final years, Manson severely contradicted his previous lack of remorse. He told a Rolling Stone reporter in 2013, “I’m sorry I gave everything I had to the wrong people…I feel bad I destroyed all those kids.”

Charles Manson also consented to the release of the book Manson’s Right Hand Man Speaks Out by former Manson Family member Charles “Tex” Watson. This seemed to indicate regret late in life. But Manson never took concrete actions to atone for his crimes and influence.

Related Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions related to Charles Manson and his imprisonment:

How was Charles Manson caught?

Manson and his followers were arrested in October 1969, a few months after their crimes, at their communal home called Spahn Ranch. Forensic evidence like fingerprints and tire tracks connected them to the murder scenes.

Additionally, Family member Linda Kasabian testified against Manson in exchange for immunity. The prosecutor Vince Bugliosi assembled a mountain of evidence tying Manson to directing the killings. This led to Manson’s conviction even though he was not physically present.

Why did Charles Manson order the Tate-LaBianca murders?

The motives behind the notorious Tate-LaBianca killings remain murky. At his trial, Manson described visions of an imminent race war called “Helter Skelter”. He believed the murders would help incite this and position his “Family” to rule the world.

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However, Manson was also motivated by paranoia and anger directed at Terry Melcher, a music producer who failed to support Manson’s ambitions as a songwriter. Melcher had previously rented the house on Cielo Drive where Sharon Tate and her friends were brutally killed.

How many people did Charles Manson kill?

Charles Manson himself did not directly kill any of the nine victims associated with the Tate-LaBianca murders in August 1969. However, as the cult leader of the Manson Family, he orchestrated and ordered the killings. His powerful influence over his followers led them to commit the horrific murders on his behalf.

During the penalty phase of his trial, the prosecution sought to link Manson to additional murders. While none could be definitively proven, circumstantial evidence ties him and the Family to at least two dozen murders. Manson bragged about having killed 35 people to cellmates over the years.

Is anyone in the Manson Family still in prison?

Three of Manson’s key followers who participated in the 1969 murders remain in prison today. Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles “Tex” Watson were all sentenced to death, later commuted to life sentences.

Susan Atkins, who participated in the Tate murders, died in prison in 2009. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was released in 2009 after serving over 30 years for attempting to assassinate President Ford in 1975. Robert Beausoleil, convicted of a separate murder linked to Manson, remains in prison.

Could Charles Manson ever have gotten parole?

It is highly unlikely Charles Manson could ever have been granted parole, even if he had lived longer. His enduring notoriety as a cult leader who inspired vicious mass murders essentially guaranteed he would have spent the rest of his life in prison.

Manson had been continually denied parole since his first hearing in 1978. Even model prisoners usually serve 20 to 25 years before receiving parole in murder cases like his. California’s governor also had final discretion to deny any granted parole.


Charles Manson earned his reputation as one of the most infamous figures in criminal history through the cult-like control he exerted over his “Family” and the brutal murders they committed on his orders.

Manson spent over 46 years of his life incarcerated, including most of it in solitary confinement. During his decades in prison, he expressed little remorse and made few efforts at redemption for his crimes and notoriety.

Manson died in late 2017 and thus ended the dark saga of this manipulative cult leader who had shocked the nation almost 50 years prior. The severity and callousness of his crimes guaranteed he would spend the rest of his life behind bars, even until his death at age 83.

While the passing of Charles Manson drew headlines, it provided resolution and closure for the families of his many victims. The evil and terror he inspired during the summer of 1969 will remain seared in American memory and criminal lore for generations to come. But with Manson’s death, his long shadow over society ultimately faded away behind the cold walls of the prison system he knew for most of his tumultuous life.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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