One of the things that strikes people the most is not just the length of Susan's incarceration (almost 40 years when she passed away - longer than any woman in California history and probably U.S. history at that time) but the almost incomprehensible amount of work she accomplished and programs she contributed to over those years. At the end of Susan?s 2005 Parole Hearing one of the victims? family members stated on the record, ?I?m 60 years old and I don?t know anyone who?s done as much as [Susan] has.? That?s an incredible commendation.
In preparation for Parole Hearings, inmates are expected to compile lists of these accomplishments for the Parole Board. In Susan's case this amounted to an entire file box full of material - a mountain of information that was so exhaustive that merely listing the documentation without reading it into the record took over an hour during the 2000 Parole Hearing. At the time this website was first constructed we were still dealing with the Parole Board, and we realized that the Parole Board made a practice of reading every grizzly detail of the crime into the record (and consequently across national TV), but they made just the same studied point of not even mentioning the almost super-human effort Susan has shown over her almost 40 years of incarceration. The list of her participation in Community Betterment programs is truly stunning, and we thought it was appropriate that the public - those who are interested - should have not only the details of the crime available to them but the details of the work Susan has done since, and which members of society have a right to take into account when discussing her right and her suitability for parole.
The following is a rough list of some of Susan?s accomplishments while incarcerated. All of it has been compiled from Susan's Prison Central File (i.e. - all of it is documented by State employees - none of it is merely Susan's assertions, which is what makes this information such a powerful testament to Susan's work).
State Officials are not required to document good behavior by inmates so the documentation which survives is all produced entirely at the discretion of the Correctional Staff, and is only given out in situations where the staff are particularly impressed by an inmate?s behavior.
11-69 Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi tells superiors the entire case against Charles Manson depended on Susan's decision to testify against Manson at the Grand Jury (Helter Skelter, paperback version, pg 214). He later expands, stating "If Susan Atkins doesn't cooperate, we've had it." (Helter Skelter, 216)
11-69 Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi informs District Attorney Evelle Younger that "Without Susan Atkins' testimony on the Tate case, the evidence against two out of the five defendants [Manson and Kasabian] is rather anemic. Without her testimony on the LaBianca case, the evidence against five out of the six defendants [everyone except Van Houten] is non-existent." That was it. Without [Susan], we still didn't have a case. (Helter Skelter, 283)
12-04-69 The head of the Los Angeles Trials Division states that Susan?s Grand Jury testimony against Charles Manson ?has been vital to law enforcement.?
Psychologist Dr. Hochman testifies that he feels Susan showed more remorse than the other defendants. (Helter Skelter, 601) [In 2009, after Susan was diagnosed as terminal, 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 a result of a group psychosis. (2009 Parole Hearing transcripts)]
Records 1971 - 1979
Records 1980 - 1989
Records 1990 - 1999
Records 2000 - 2009