Photographic Biography


Susan - 1969


District Attorney states that without Susan's testimony to the Grand Jury their case against Manson would be non-existent.

The head of the Los Angeles Trials Division states that Susan?s Grand Jury testimony against Charles Manson was ?vital to law enforcement.?


Susan - 1970


Psychologist Joel Hochman testifies that he feels Susan showed more remorse than the other defendants. 

[In 2009, after Susan was hospitalized, Dr. Hochman wrote to tell her he was always upset with the way the prosecution used his testimony against her. He told Susan that contrary to the prosecution's assertions at her trial, he had told them that anyone could have ended up in her place as the result of a group psychosis.]


Susan - 1971


Dr. Fischmann states that Susan ?does not tend to engage in verbal evasions, games and manipulations, and responds much more directly, frankly and sincerely [than her co-defendants].?  He goes on to say that Susan has a psychological facet that ?differs substantially from the features which characterize a ?manson girl.?

Dr. Coburn states that Susan's codefendants react very coldly toward her. He ends his evaluation by stating that ?there is every likelihood that she will significantly change her outlook, her view of physical life and death, her relationship to society, etc. to the point where she would cease to be a danger.?

Requests a Bible on Death Row.

Superintendent states that Susan ?has not presented any problems...? ?She appears more isolated and lonely than her two codefendants... She has more art work in her room than the other two women and has selected pictures which are both sensitive and sentimental. They are well chosen.?


Susan - 1972


Dr. Boylan stated that ?Miss Atkins is capable of growing as a worthwhile and responsible person. She is not dangerous to herself or to others nor is she likely to evoke aggressive responses from others.?

Dr. Roh stated that Susan?s ?development potential was quite substantial.?

RGC Counseling Staff records, "No evidence of overt disorder of thought or affect... Positive changes in attitude. Development potential is substantial."

Correctional Counselor stated that Susan ?has been friendly and cooperative? and that staff have made no adverse reports about her.


Susan - 1973


Susan writes the Superintendent, disavowing any connection with the ?Manson family in or out of the institution.? Staff notes a ?great deal of anti-family sentiment.?

The Parole Board states that, ?The Board noted that subject is ?searching and that is good.? The Board said that maybe there is a glimmer of hope for subject. The Board offered for subject?s consideration to ?get down to brass tacks and what God had to say about Himself.?


Susan - 1974


Dr. Roh states that Susan showed general improvement.

Parole Board tells Susan to pursue her spiritual interests.

Dr. Black states, in a Chronological Therapy Session Report, that Susan's attitude was "that of a cooperative, friendly, verbal young woman." He also states that Susan appears to have learned to gain what she wants by directing her positive attitude.

Participates in College Classes.


Susan - 1975


Superintendent and Classification Committee acknowledges Susan?s deliberate break from ?family.?

Dr. Black records that Susan made an emphatic statement that she does not have anything to do with the ?family,? and she wants to document her dissociation with the ?family? and their conflicts.

Dr. Black concludes in his Evaluation for the Parole Board that ?This woman has shown no tendencies to be a danger to others or to herself since her initial contact with me.?

Susan?s Case manager states that ?Susan is a pleasant appearing young woman, who relates to her peers with warmth and friendliness.?


Susan - 1976


Susan received a Commendation Chrono from Staff for the assistance she displayed in helping staff get an inmate who had tried to commit suicide to the hospital.

Dr. Flanagan states that Susan told him she was once antisocial in nature. ?By contrast now for the first time in her life she feels patriotic to the point where she prays for her country and for those who have been elected to its administrative offices.? He concludes his Evaluation by stating that ?A fair prognosis is offered with respect to this woman becoming a conforming member of the community.?

The Parole Board states that ?Panel was impressed with Susan?s sincerity and in her endeavor to carry out her new life style, goals... Time will be the true test of her stability.? ?Board explained... that they consider her making excellent progress...? ?They were very impressed at her improvement.?


Susan - 1977


Work Supervisor states that Susan has ignored peer pressure and that Susan has claimed that she ?may become stronger from it.?

Chief of the Parole Board, Howard Way, states that Susan will be a good parole risk someday.

PEC Committee stated that Susan is ?a source of stability on [her housing unit] for those less stable: [she] encourages women to do what is right and encourages them not to fight the system but to program and cooperate with staff and abide by the rules.?

Program Administrator states that ?If Susan continues with this attitude and behavior demonstrated during the past year, she should be able to live a crime-free life once she is paroled and released to the community.?


Susan 1978


Lieutenant claims Susan has ?above-average? adherence to rules. ?Attitude toward staff: Exceptionally polite.? ?Relates well with all, job performance continues to be excellent. Responds to authority and direction well. Requires little supervision...? ?She also is influential in the unit in a religious vein and has been instrumental in beginning a religious group with staff supervision twice weekly. She can be a very positive stabilizer in the unit when weaker individuals need assistance.?

Susan received a Commendation Chrono from a Nurse for ?her thoughtfulness and help to an other resident who was bleeding profusely. She helped me place pressure bandages on the wrist. She showed much concern and dedication to the life of an other. I think she handled the situation very well. It is good to have someone like Susan during any emergency.?

Program Administrator states that he has known Susan for approximately seven years, and that ?Susan has undergone dramatic changes since her arrival at CIW...?


Susan 1979


Susan?s Counselor, in his Report to the Parole Board, states ?over all adjustment in PTU has been viewed as excellent.? ?Prognosis... If Susan continues in her present attitude/behavior, she could function as a productive member of the community upon her release to parole.?

CSC Committee states that ?the committee members agree that [Susan?s] behavior on [her housing unit] has been very satisfactory. She has not presented a management problem to staff, instead has been cooperative and friendly in her contacts with staff.?


Susan 1980


Dr. Johnson states ?An indicator of the extent to which Ms. Atkins has changed in outlook, comprehension, and maturation may be her view of the position of the Board on her case. She sees the Board members [as] being in a dilemma; if they can accept the fact that she is truly changed and is an entirely different person than in 1969 to 1974... they then have the problem of sending her back to a society which still will not tolerate her because of the crime in which she participated. She reflects on this, not critically, but with an air of sympathy.? ?IMPRESSION: ...Remarkable mobilization of mental and emotional assets while incarcerated. ...shows excellent judgment, positive value system, and truly presents a transformation through finding the positive elements in the present environment. This young woman appears to have undergone a permanent change such that she would no longer constitute a danger to the community.?

Susan?s Counselor states ?If Susan maintains her present attitude and behavior pattern, there is no reason why she could not become a productive member of the community.


Susan - 1981


Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, and C&PR state that Susan?s work report ?shows all exceptional marks. With regards to behavior and attitude, her demeanor toward staff and other inmates is also described as excellent. She seems to be a stabilizer within [her] cottage.?

Susan?s Counselor states that ?Miss Atkins has continued to be a stabilizing influence in her living unit. ... Her overall adjustment continues to be a positive one.? ?Prognosis: This writer agrees with the report of July 1980 in that if Susan maintains her present attitude and behavior pattern there is no reason why she could not become a productive member of the community. ... Noted is the Psychological report dated June 1981 in which Dr. Jimakas states that Miss Atkins has improved greatly since her arrival at CIW and that she is continuing to improve.? 

The Parole Board acknowledges Susan's "gradual improvement over the years since reception in the California Department of Corrections"... and "Panel is also aware of improved psychological reports in this case."


Susan - 1982


Susan is allowed to work in the Visiting Room?s new Children?s Center after completing 72 hours in Child Development classes.

The Academic Education Counselor commended Susan for receiving her Associate of Arts degree, attending classes from the University of LaVerne, Chaffey Community College, Coastline Community College, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a GPA of better than 3.5.

Susan?s Counselor states that Susan?s ?overall adjustment has been productive and positive.? ?This writer agrees with [the] report of September, 1981 in that if Ms. Atkins continues her present attitude and behavior pattern there is no reason why she could not become a productive member of the community.?


Susan 1983


Monsignor Lawlor states that Susan worked very hard and ?is to be commended for all her efforts in the Legion of Mary. Susan is a very warm outgoing person, and she has a lot of love and talent and she is willing to share it with others.?

Vocational Instructor states that Susan has been given ?Supervision of the data entry and the production runs for the CIW Roster program. She is very conscientious in her work and is doing a magnificent job.? Conduct and cooperation are reported as excellent.

Correctional Counselor states that Susan has ?attained 1265 hours in Data Processing, and is reported as doing a magnificent job.?


Susan 1984


Vocational Instructor states that Susan has made ?excellent progress.? In addition to her vocational studies, he reports that she is also ?working on revisions to the roster program.? Her adaptability and conduct is reported as excellent.

Susan received a Commendation Chrono from Production Manager for ?excellent performance.? He also noted that ?Susan?s productivity and quality of work are definitely above average and makes her an asset to this organization.?

Dr. Jimakas states that during a 5-month group therapy period, she found that Susan ?was very self-disclosing...? ?She made many contributions to other group members in terms of sharing her experiences and her own difficulties.  Ms. Atkins showed significant insight as well as motivation for psychotherapy.  She appeared to have matured significantly and could be described as above-average in her ability to understand and take responsibility for her behaviors, feelings and their consequences.?


Susan 1985


Susan begins working with staff in an attempt to organize a ALANON program at CIW - a self-help program for relatives of alcoholics.

Counselor states that ?Contact with subject has been minimal in this past year because she is usually able to resolve her problems herself... She programs well and has had few problems in the Unit. Unit officers have indicated to me that [Susan] is no problem and can be depended on for assistance if called upon to do so.? ?Overall personal growth this past year has been very good.?

Susan received a Commendation Chrono from the Senior Medical Technical Assistant, who stated that he found Susan to be a ?diligent, conscientious, and caring individual as she has worked with the Medical Department Personnel on resolving various types of Medical problems that Inmates come to her with.  Her manner has always been one of professional courtesy...? ?Susan is to be commended for her volunteer work with the Medical Department and it is hoped that she will come back and work with the Medical Department again in the future.?


Susan 1986


Susan has been the Executive Chairperson of CIW's AA program for 14 months. ?She has helped the organization to function in a positive manner.?

Susan was Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the State of California for services rendered to the Women?s Advisory Council at CIW.

The Long Termers' Organization thanks Susan for her contribution to the Para Los Ninos Project, which handmade Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. She states that Susan?s ?efforts and enthusiasm in working on the project have made is possible to achieve the goals that were set.?

Susan helps create CIW's Weight Training program, receiving endouragement and a visit from Arnold Schwarzeneggar.


Susan - 1987


Susan received a Laudatory Chrono from the Child Development Instructor for formatting and typing six entire sections of the statewide competency based Effective Parenting Curriculum Test.

Susan receives five Certificates of Educational Achievement from the State of California for completion of compuiter training.


Susan - 1988


Dr. Villar states that Susan?s ?insight is very good and her judgment is intact.? ?She has emotionally matured in regards to her outlook towards society.? ?She showed a lot of remorse when talking about the details of the crime.?

Dr. Arbel states that Susan ?seems to have good insight into the psychological dynamics that led her to join Manson and become so vulnerable to his manipulation and control at the outset of their encounter.? ?Ms. Atkins was described as having made continuous improvement in interpersonal communication and that she has gained good insight into her psychodynamics.? ?With regard to the present offense, she showed good insight about the crucial psychological circumstances that led to her involvement with the ?Manson Family?.?


Susan 1989


Susan receives four more Certificates of Educational Achievement from the State of California for her work in computer training.

Dr. Armstrong states that Susan?s insight and judgment capabilities [were] commendable.? ?...her level of dangerousness appears to me less than that of the average inmate and the likelihood of her return to drug abuse also most unlikely.?

Susan?s Counselor states that ?She continues to excel and do above average work on her vocational and educational program."

Susan was thanked by an Administrator for her special ?contribution to the ?Gifts for Children of CIW Project.? Her gift inspired many others to contribute as well, and is greatly appreciated.?


Susan - 1990


Participated in Arts-in-Corrections? exhibit Behind the Cover, held at the University of California, Riverside art gallery.

Susan receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Victim?s Services for raising the second highest amount of contributions in the Children at Risk 1990 Walk-A-Thon.

Counselor acknowledges Susan for successfully completing 40 hours of Training for Trainers in order to become a facilitator for Breaking Barriers. [This program is meant to provide the participants with the tools and alternatives necessary for change in their lives. It prepares them to make positive choices regarding lifestyles upon re-entry into society.]


Susan - 1991


Dr. Armstrong stated that ?Ms. Atkins appears to be well aware of her high-profile and potentially controversial status, yet she has made a deliberate and concerted effort not to refrain from undertaking a worthwhile role in the prison community.? ?In other words, it is my opinion that her desire to be available to her peers in this manner constitutes evidence of her potential as a social and spiritual leader of significant merit.?

Work Supervisor states that ?Susan does the bulk of the institutional typing [for the chapel] and assembles the Bible studies that are given out at a rate of 500 per week...? Her work habits, attitude toward peers and job, as well as her quality of work are all described as above average. He also notes that Susan?s attitude toward the State is above average. Her alertness, perseverance, and care are all reported as being exceptional.


Susan - 1992


The Victim?s Services Representative acknowledges Susan for her participation in a four hour Victim?s Impact-New Beginnings Orientation. Susan went on to become a facilitator in Victim?s Services? New beginnings, going over to the Reception Center to meet with newly arrived inmates to give them orientation on the ?effects of crime on victims.? And to ?raise the awareness level of the criminal [to] the cost of crime to the victims.?

Dr. Klebel states that Susan ?has made substantial progress during her more than 20 years of incarceration.? He concluded the "inmate Atkins has made progress in accepting her part in the perpetration of the crime, in her guilt and remorse about her crimes and in trying to understand what got her into the life style that resulted in the horrendous events of her crimes.? MMPI reflects ?striving for perfection,? ?test was taken in a normal fashion, there are no signs of dissimulation or defensiveness... As a matter of fact, the validity scales indicate that the tested person can be described as a ?usually candid and adaptable individual...? ?No deficits in judgment and insight were noted.? His conclusions were that ?during observation in the institution she has significantly psychologically improved. In a less controlled environment this inmate is expected to improve further.? (At the time of this evaluation, Susan was at the lowest level of Prison custody short of parole.)


Susan - 1993


The Parole Board states that Susan "should be commended for being disciplinary free since 1982, for your work record, for earning vocational certificates, and for your improvement in substance abuse programming." They find no post-conviction behavior to fault her for.

Victim Services Representative states that Susan?s participation in Victim Services ?has been both positive and inspirational to other inmates.? This program includes ?facilitation of victim impact orientations, providing input for community projects and serving as a ?positive role model? for other inmates.?

Victim Services Representative stated that Susan ?is acknowledged for her recent participation as one of the coordinator?s [sic] for the Children-At-Risk Walk-A-Thon...? ?As a result of her commitment and enthusiasm towards this special fund-raiser, the institution raised more than $8,500.00.?


Susan - 1994


The Sponsor for the African American Women Prisoners Association ?is proud to acknowledge inmate Atkins for her participation in AAWPA?s first ?Black History? program...? ?Thank you, S. Atkins for contributing to keeping the dream alive!?

Susan agreed to participate with the Department of the Treasury, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police colloquy for Federal, State, and local law enforcement personnel on the subject of cults, after the Waco incident.


Susan - 1995


Sergeant acknowledged Susan for her ?participation and assistance for the Children-At-Risk Walk-A-Thon.? ?As a result of her commitment and enthusiasm towards this special fund-raiser, the institution raised thousands of dollars for the Children?s Fund.?

Sharing Our Stitches commends Susan for her participation, stating that ?during this three month period, SOS completed eight quilts for the homeless, several baby quilts were donated to an AIDS hospice, and work continues on the ?Precious Pals? for the Chino Police Department. SOS is proud of its accomplishments and it is a success because of members like Susan.?


Susan - 1996


Dr. McDaniel states that ?Over the years [Susan] has matured considerably and is a far different person now when her initial reports are used for comparison.?

Two Correctional Counselors state that ?Since her last [parole hearing], Ms. Atkins has continued to display laudatory behavior.? ?Despite the high notoriety of Ms. Atkins? case, she has endured many adverse conditions and continued to exercise efforts necessary for parole consideration. In summation, Ms. Atkins has made substantial progress during her 27 years of incarceration.?

Prison Fellowship Ministries International commended Susan for her personal contribution to developing a series of questions to go along with their 12-step programs. The PFMI Class Instructor, Area Director, and Area Council state that ?Susan Atkins has been the principle author and composer of these questions for each of the 14 sessions of the co-dependency program and has now started the 12 step drug dependency program. ...She is to be commended for her willingness, ability and insightfulness into the dynamics of what can help a person deal with their co-dependency problems and overcome their dependency upon drugs in order to produce these questions that can be used with the workbook provided by Prison Fellowship.?


Susan - 1997


The Mexican American Resource Association Sponsor states that Susan ?has been an active member of MARA? and has ?contributed generously of her time, talent, ideas and efforts. Susan Atkins has made a substantial contribution to the growth and viability of MARA, and is a valued member of our organization.?

Susan receives an award from the Warden and the Community Resources Manager for her contributions and participation in one if the Community Services Projects.

Susan is awarded a Certificate of Achievement "in recognition of distinguished achievement and satisfactorily participating in Arts in Corrections/UCLA Arts Reach."


Susan 1998


Reverend Woodard states that ?Ms. Susan Atkins ... is to be commended for her participation in the Interfaith Chapel In-House Ministry as a Moderator. Her sincere dedication and availability has been a valuable asset to the Ministry, Chaplains, Volunteers and peers. She also assisted in making the T.D. Jakes Ministry Conference... a blessing to the population as a whole. Keep up the good work!!?

Sharing Our Stiches Sponsor commends Susan. ?Susan?s act of caring and compassion has benefited those who are experiencing times of great need in the surrounding communities.? ?Quilts have been donated to the Salem Christian Homes (a residential care and training for adults who have developed disabilities in Ontario), Horizon House (a battered women?s shelter that advocates against domestic violence), and Hillside High School (teen moms).? ?SOS deeply appreciates your contributions to the success of this community services program.?


Susan - 1999


Warden Poole documents her opinion that Susan has shown ?positive institutional adjustment,? that at her job Susan has ?received exceptional evaluations,? and that Susan ?has exhibited exemplary behavior? within her institution.

Susan is recognized by the African American Women Prisoners Association for her contribution to their Kwanzaa event, celebrating African American Heritage.

12-31-99 Susan is commended for six months participation as Chairperson of Sharing Our Stitches.


Susan - 2000


Senior Psychologist Dr. Klebel recognizes Susan as an "active member of the Inmate Peer Helper Meetings, Substance Abuse. These meetings are designed to assist members in understanding their addiction and related consequences of Substance Abuse."

Susan is asked by the Crime Victims Assistance Director for the Mayor of Houston to aid them in stopping the profiteering by crime-memorabilia dealers on the internet.

Susan receives her Certification from the Literacy Volunteers of America for completing their Tutor Training Program sponsored by El Prado Adult School.


Susan - 2001


Susan receives a Certificate of Participation and Accomplishment for contributing to the writing, rewriting, and editing of the new Self Help Program Breaking Barriers with Jesus Christ.

Susan receives a chrono from the Senior Psychologist, Dr. Klebel, for her active co-facilitation in the Inmate Assistance Modules, designed to assist participants to understand their addictions and related consequences. Susan is noted as having put in five months of work.

Susan is acknowledged for her donation to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony given to the Archdiocese. "Her contribution should be recognized as her effort to give to the community where she lives."


Susan - 2002


CIW's Senior Psychologist thanks Susan for her participation in the Christmas Event they planned for the psychiatric inmates. ?Thank you for your hard work and positive attitude.?

Susan is commended for two years participation as a facilitator of the Breaking Barriers for Jesus Christ Program. Correctional Counselor Munerlyn states,  ?Inmate Atkins has shared her life story, including her crime, and how she realizes the seriousness of her choices. It is this writer's opinion that she understands her past mistakes and takes great pride is sharing with others her understanding of how to deal with situations differently.?

Susan is given a Certificate of Achievement from the Warden for participation in the 2nd Annual CIW National Women's History Month Celebration. Participation in the Essay Writing Contest.


Susan - 2003


Susan is documented for eight months as an active co-facilitator in the Inmate Assistance Modules, Substance Abuse, where she participated in assisting other inmates in understanding their addictions and the related consequences of substance abuse.

Susan receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Locks of Love Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, ?and all the children whose lives you will touch.?

Susan receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Locks of Love Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, ?and all the children whose lives you will touch.?


Susan - 2004


Susan is thanked by the African American Women Prisoners? Association (AAWPA) for her participation in six months of their Drug Awareness Counseling and Relapse prevention program. ?Your honesty helped everyone in ?keeping it real?. Your input was appreciated.?

Chaplain Woodard acknowledged Susan as an active participant for three months of the ?Pathways to Wholeness? program, which emphasizes important issues of attitudes and behaviors, forgiveness, relapse triggers, family dynamics, past traumas, addictions and coping skills, both for today and after release.

Susan is commended by the Case Manager for Friends Outside for her completion of Creative Conflict Resolution seminar. ?Ms. Atkins put forward initiative and perseverance to gain acceptance into this third program at CIW? ?Ms. Atkins actively participated in her personal growth and was an asset to the group.?


 Susan 2005



State Psychiatrist, Dr. Smith, tells the Parole Board that Susan readily takes responsibility for her commitment offense, and that she feels that the scope of her crimes is such that there is no way she could make amends, but that, in spite of this, she must try to do so daily.  He ends his report by stating that there is no immediate threat of dangerousness if Susan is released and that he is fully supportive of her release.

Susan contacts the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Calif. State University, San Bernardino, to see if a program could be initiated at CIW to educate and confront issues of racism and cultural hatred.

Susan contacts the American Cancer Society in connection with establishing an information project within the prison to inform women about the risks, about early detection methods, about appropriate check-ups, and about the things they can do to prevent cancer becoming an issue in their lives.

At her parole hearing one of the victim's family members stated that Susan's incarceration history was commendable, and another stated that 

Susan ?has all of these things that she?s done, all these committees, all of these organizations, all of these degrees. And I am 60 years old and 

I don?t know of anybody that has done all of these things.? 


 Susan 2006



Susan contacts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to encourage them to take down their display of Charles Manson, reminding them that many impressionable young people visit them each year and they Charles Manson is neither a musician of note nor a person deserving accreditation. (They never respond.)

Susan is acknowledged for her participation and contribution to the publication by the Time For Change Foundation, ?Invisible Bars, Barriers to Women?s Health and Well-Being During and After Incarceration.?

Susan gets credit for eight weeks participation in Victim Offender Reconciliation, put on by the Restorative Justice Center of the Inland Empire and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?s Institute for Conflict Management, discussing victim impact, crime, remorse, responsibility, atonement and justice. 

Susan is commended by Liberty Speakers Club for contributing to and Annual Ralph Smedly Membership Drive Competition. Susan?s efforts helped bring their club into the limelight of Toastmasters International World Headquarters.


 Susan 2007



Susan is awarded First Place in the Essay Contest at the Seventh Annual Women?s History Day Celebration, ?Generations of Women Moving History Forward.?

Susan is commended for an entire year of active participation in Restorative Justice, a forum for interaction with Crime Victims.

Susan completes six months participation in the Victim/Offender Reconciliation Group, exploring the ramifications of crime on both victims and perpetrators alike.

Susan is presented with First Place in the Toastmasters International Club Speech Contest.

Susan is documented as participating in the inmate assistance Module, Substance Abuse, studying ?The Addictive Disorder? to better understand 

the addictive process.


 Susan 2008



Susan is documented as volunteering her time to be trained for operating and instructing the CURVES Fitness System Resistance Training Circuit. ?Moreover, inmate Atkins is one of nine facilitators trained and highly skilled in assisting the general population, special population (CCCMS) and geriatric population work toward achieving an increased level of physical health and well-being??

Home    Introduction    Bible Studies    Newsletters    Susan's Artwork    Photographic Biography    Photographic Library    Books 

Prison Record    Documentation    Contact Information