The prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars 40 years ago said the serial killer's chief disciple and would-be presidential assassin, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme should not be released from prison next week.
Vincent Bugliosi, the former Los Angeles County assistant district attorney, said Fromme, who failed in her attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September 1975, remained a threat and should be kept behind bars.
"If you do something like that against the president of the United States, the need for deterrence increases when you're talking about the most important person," he said.
Fromme, now 60, was an underboss in Manson's homicidal cult called the "Family" and ran things at the cult's desert hideaway when Manson was away, according to Bugliosi.
"She was the main gal in the family. Once Manson left the ranch, if he was anywhere else she was in charge," Bugliosi said.
Fromme took aim at Ford with a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol Sept. 5, 1975. There were four bullets in the gun's magazine, but none in the chamber and an alert Secret Service agent grabbed the gun from Fromme.
At the time of the assassination attempt, Manson and several of his followers were serving life terms for killing nine people in his grisly Helter Skelter plot to start a race war.
She told her defense attorney that she targeted Ford because she wanted to garner attention for a new trial for Manson.
Seventeen days after Fromme's assassination attempt, Sara Jane Moore also tried to kill the president. Moore was released from prison earlier this year.
Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Fromme had already completed her sentence for the Ford assassination attempt. That term was up in July 2008. But Fromme was ordered to serve additional time for a 1987 prison escape.
Fromme is scheduled for release Aug. 16, just a few days after the 40th anniversary of the murder of actress Sharon Tate and nine others during a bloody weekend of slaughter that was ordered by Manson. But because the 16th falls on a weekend, Fromme could be out as soon as Friday, Aug. 14, Billingslley said.
Fromme's release has raised questions inside the law enforcement community about whether time in prison can temper the impulses of serious criminals.
"The greatest predictor for potential violence is a history of violence," said Eugene O'Donnell, a professor of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Any time you release someone with a violent past it's a gamble. We just have to keep our fingers crossed."
"That said, it is relatively rare to see someone of advanced age committing serious crimes," he added.
Fromme was one of Manson's earliest followers and remained devoted to him. During his murder trial, Fromme and other female followers camped outside the courthouse, and when Manson showed up in court with an X carved into his forehead, Fromme carved an X into her forehead.
During the trial, Fromme was convicted of trying to prevent other "Family" members from testifying and of contempt of court for refusing to testify herself. She was given short jail terms.
Fromme and other female followers later sent nude photos of themselves to imprisoned members of the Aryan Brotherhood to convince them to protect Manson in prison.