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Kevin Cooper case highlights need to abolish the Death Penalty

While anti-death penalty activists celebrate stopping (temporarily) the execution of Kevin Cooper on California's death row, it has never been clearer the need to abolish the death penalty itself.
February 11, 2004


Santa Cruz, Ca. --- As local activists breath a sigh of relief at the near-death experience of Kevin Cooper, saved at the 11th hour with a stay by none other than the US Supreme Court, we need to turn our attention to the death penalty itself.

Instead of looking to see if any preservative can be found in the blood sample which the San Bernardino Police Department said was a match for Kevin Cooper and found at the grisly crime scene back in 1983. Instead of broadcasting the accounts of SBPD officers taking crucial evidence to their homes unsupervised and undocumented. Instead of repeating the horrifying scene of a gorilla being hung in effigy outside of Cooper's trial by a racist mob intent on exacting a death sentence. Instead of testing the long blonde hairs found clutched in one of the victims hands 24 years ago to see if they belong to someone other than one of the victims.

We must instead, look at the death penalty itself. What is all of this costing us?

Death cannot be overturned by a future court ruling.

There is no way to know for sure if a person is truly guilty, or has been framed intentionallly, or is an unfortunate victim of circumstantial evidence. As long as we have a death penalty, innocent people will be executed.

Statistics prove the death penalty is no more of a deterrent for capital crimes than the sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

The Death Penalty costs the tax-payers much more than life imprisonment.

Most of the civilized world has banned the death penalty. For instance there is no death penalty in The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Israel, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Hungary, Costa Rica, Italy, Australia or South Africa.

The United States, by its retention and use of the death penalty is in the same ranks as countries such as China, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, United Arab Emirate, Kuwait, Chad, Sudan, and Nigeria.

81 percent of all known recent executions took place in China, Iran and the USA.

The Death Penalty denies the right to life.

The Death Penalty can be used for political purposes

Governor George W. Bush used every execution in Texas as a photo-op to build support for his bid for the presidency.

California's Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger is a stong supporter of the death penalty. But ironically, he may have made his first big error by not only denying Kevin Cooper clemency, but for having also denied him a clemency hearing, the usual procedure. His eagerness to execute underscores how politicians curry favor with voters on the emotional issue of the death penalty, which all polls say is favored by the majority of voters in California. If Cooper's blood shows traces of preservative, Schwartenegger's leadership will suffer a very public rebuke right as he is appealing to voters to trust him and approve another bond in the coming March 2004 election to bail out California's teetering budget.

The Death Penalty has been implemented in a racist manner.

A disproportional number of black, hispanic, retarded, or homeless men have been executed compared to their incidence in the general population. While it is difficult to prove that a conviction was racially motivated in any individual case, the overall statistics on black and white executions provide ample proof of a rampantly racist conviction rate with corresponding death sentence for men of color.

The bi-partisan efforts to abolish the death penalty have already begun. The former Republican Governor of Illinois declared a moratorium on the death penalty, and when he was not able to get it overturned, pardoned and commuted death sentences into life in prison with no possibility of parole for all on death row in Illinois as he left office.

Americans must look again at this barbaric practice that is neither cheap, fair, or fast. It is subject to misuse, does not bring "peace" to victim's families, and won't make us any safer.

Lastly, the suicide bombers on 9-11 believed that their death in the service of Allah killing infidels (Americans) transported them instantly into paradise where they were awaited by 72 virgins as a martyr for Islam. They also believe that if they are caught and executed they will also become martyrs for Allah. They do not believe they will achieve the bliss of paradise upon their death if they die of old age in a US prison. In Bush's Operation Enduring-Terror times, abolishing the death penalty will actually make us safer.
 
 


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