Charles Manson Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2175 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Charles Manson and his criminal activity. Specifically it will discuss how the various theoretical schools of crime causation would attempt to explain Charles Manson's criminal behavior. Charles Manson is one of the world's most notorious murderers, and quite possibly the most bizarre, too. While he never actually murdered anyone during the Tate/LaBianca murders in 1969, he was the mastermind behind the murders, and the leader of the "Manson Family" members who committed them. Several different theories of crime causation apply to Manson and his criminal behavior, and most of them relate to his upbringing and early life.

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In order to understand the criminology theories that apply to Charles Manson, it is necessary to look at his life, beginning with his birth and childhood. Charles Millis Manson was born on November 13, 1934, with no given name. "No name Maddox" is the official name on his birth certificate. His mother was a sixteen-year-old unmarried girl named Kathleen Maddox. His father was a man named Colonel Tate, who never supported the mother or child. Kathleen briefly married a man named William Manson, and this is the name Manson took throughout his life. Kathleen was raised in a very strict and religious household, and she ran away when she was fifteen. After she had Charlie, she drifted from relationship to relationship, and often left Charlie with relatives. She went to prison for armed robbery when Charlie was only five, and he lived with a very religious aunt and uncle (Bardsley, 2002, p. 13). One biographer notes, "There was no continuity in his life: he was always being foisted on someone new; he moved from one dingy rooming house to another; there were only transitory friendships that he made on the streets" (Bardsley, 2002, p. 13). His early life was spent without the love or affection of a father or mother, and he began a life of crime very early.

Term Paper on Charles Manson Assignment

When he was nine, Charlie was caught for stealing and the court sent him to reform school. This happened again when he was twelve, and he was sent to an Indiana school for boys. He ran away from the school about a year later and tried to return to his mother, but she refused to care for him. He was sent to Father Flanagan's Boys Town, but he only stayed there three days before he committed armed robbery with another boy, and was sent to the Indiana School for Boys in 1948. Biographer Bardsley continues, "His teachers described him as having trust in no one and 'did good work only for those from whom he figured he could obtain something'" (Bardsley, 2006, p. 14). Manson escaped from the school and ran away across country in 1951. He and another boy managed to live off the profits of burglaries and car theft until they got to Utah, where they were caught. This time Charlie was sent to a national boy's school in Washington D.C. The school tested him and found "his IQ was 109, that he was illiterate and that his aptitude for everything but music was average" (Bardsley, 2002, p. 15). Even at the young age of seventeen, it was clear to most of the teachers and psychiatrists who dealt with him that Charlie was a very disturbed and troubled young man. Charlie was transferred to various institutions because of his behavior, but was finally paroled in 1953 at the age of nineteen. In 1955 he married, and had a son, Charles Manson, Jr. He was caught after stealing a car and again went to prison in California. His wife divorced him in 1958 during this prison stay. This pattern of illegal activities, being caught, and spending time in prison followed Charlie throughout his life. He also began studying various alternative religions, such as Buddhism and Scientology during his stints in prison, and these studies would eventually lead him to found his own "family" subtly based on religious thought - through the eyes of an increasingly incoherent Charlie. He also learned to play guitar in prison, and this led him to the streets of San Francisco after his release from prison in 1967 (Bardsley, 2002, p. 14-17).

Charlie learned about drugs on the streets of San Francisco, and learned how to manipulate people with drugs like LSD, too. He began to attract a group of female followers who admired him and his philosophies, and in 1968, they made their way to Southern California. They lived on scavenged food and by stealing, and settled on the Spahn Ranch outside Los Angeles. He was obsessed with the Beatles, and their song "Helter Skelter," which fit into his bizarre philosophies that he preached to his followers, which included a kind of Armageddon where blacks revolted against whites throughout the country. He began to believe he was Jesus Christ leading his flock of followers, and he could convince them to do just about anything, including commit murder. That is what his followers did in August of 1969. They murdered seven people between Sharon Tate and her friends and another couple, the LaBiancas (Bardsley, 2002, p. 17-18).

Clearly, Charles Manson's influences on his behavior began early in life. These origins fall into the social structure theory of criminality. Another author notes, "Social structure theories state that criminality is less an individual influence in as much as a product of social forces. Those forces include customs, obligations, laws, morality as well as religious beliefs" (Calderon, 2005). Many social forces influenced Charlie during his youth. First, he spent nearly half his life in reform schools and other penal institutions by the time of his last release in 1967. Charlie consistently broke the law because he had no other viable means of support, and he also had a desperate need to draw attention to himself, which was often noted in his prison and reform school reports. The social forces of customs and morality were non-existent in his life, and so he had no remorse or guilt for committing crimes like robbery and burglary.

One of the sub-theories of the social theory of criminology is the social disorganization theory, which certainly applies to Charlie. His life of crime began at the age of nine, because he had no guidance or normality in his life, and this is the center of the social disorganization theory. Without parental guidance and love, Charlie deviated from normal acceptable behavior, and this pattern continued throughout his life.

Another social theory that applies to Charlie is the strain theory, which indicates that young people begin lives of crime as a way of coping in a social environment that is difficult or stressful. Charlie had few friends, was shuttled between family members, and had anything but a normal childhood. He was also small for his age and felt the need to constantly prove himself in new situations. Thus, he developed deviant behavior because of his childhood environment in very difficult and demanding living conditions. Another author notes that Manson understood how his upbringing and difficult childhood led to his life of crime. He writes, "In his testimony, Manson himself emphasizes his near-illiteracy as evidence of his life-long victimization by society" (Bernstein, 1992, p. 171). Manson feels that society was to blame for his failures, and perhaps it was. Charlie always seemed to be in trouble, and no one seemed to recognize that what he was desperately searching for was love, affection, and a sense of belonging. He found these things in prison, rather than in society, and that is a sad testament to his life and to society's role in his ultimate failure as a viable member of society.

Charlie's mother was essentially responsible for Charlie's inability to cope with real life and to turn to crime as a way of life. Author Calderon continues, "Within the scope of the social structure theories, 'transmission belts' such as parents are expected to provide values and goals specific to their social class they identify with" (Calderon, 2005). Charlie's transmission belt was faulty at best. At one point, his mother actually sold him to a waitress for a pitcher of beer, and then left him in the diner with the waitress. It took a week for one of his uncles to find out where he was. His mother did not provide values and goals to him, instead, she provided him with heartache and instability, which was the real cause of all his problems. These social theories of criminology are extremely relevant to Charlie because of his early life, and many of them apply to his life and what it has become. Charlie might have been much different if he had a transmission belt that actually worked, and taught him the things he needed to know to really get along in society. Another author notes,

Charles Manson himself remained, in a crucial sense, a permanent child, since his time in the juvenile homes and jails had never given him a chance to grow up and learn how to cope in the larger… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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