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Journey of Hope in Monterey

Abe Bonowitz, Bill Pelke, and Juan Melendez are on a Journey of Hope, travelling around the country speaking out and educating people about the reality of capital punishment. The trio were in Monterey on Valentine's Day for a conference of defense attorneys.

Bill Pelke lost his grandmom to a brutal murder and initially sought her killer's execution, but he had an epiphany and now works against the death penalty.

Juan Meledez spent 17 years, 8 months and a day on Florida's death row for a crime he did not commit. He was set free in January 2002. Juan has become an activist, working to end capital punishment.

Abe Bonowitz is with Citizens United Against the Death Penalty. He has been working to educate the public about human rights problems, in particular the death penalty and the need for alternatives to the death penalty, for over 15 years. But he only came to his position after arguing FOR the death penalty for almost a year in an attempt to disprove the facts presented by death penalty opponents.

Audio from Journey of Hope in Monterey I raw audio

[ Bill Pelke I Juan Melendez I Abe Bonowitz I Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP) I Journey of Hope ]

Bill Pelke

Bill Pelke's 78 year old grandmother Ruth, taught Bible lessons to neighborhood children in Gary, Indiana. One day, May 14th, 1985, four ninth grade girls from the local high school come to her door asking about the lessons, and she invited them into her home. As she turned to get information for them, one grabbed a vase and hit her over the head. Another pulled a knife out of her purse and began to stab her. Ruth was stabbed a total of 33 times. While one of the girls held the knife inside her, the others ransacked her house. They ended up with $10.00 and her ten-year-old car.

A year later, one of the girls, Paula Cooper, was sentenced to death for the crime. She had been 15 when the murder occurred, and at 16 became the youngest female on death row in America. Originally supportive of Paula's death sentence, Bill eventually forgave Paula, began corresponding and visiting with her, and worked to overturn her sentence. She is now serving 60 years in prison. Bill recently retired after over 30 years of service with Bethlehem Steel and plans to devote his retirement to abolishing the death penalty. He recently purchased a tour bus to travel across the country and spread the message of forgiveness and hope.

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Juan Meledez

On January 3, 2002 Juan Melendez became the 24th person to be released from death row in the state of Florida, the 99th Nationwide. Melendez spent 17 years on death row for a 1983 murder to which another man had repeatedly confessed -- evidence prosecutors withheld.

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Abe Bonowitz

Abe Bonowitz is Director of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a national non-profit organization which promotes positive dialog regarding capital punishment and invigorated tactical grassroots activism by the global death penalty abolition movement.

Bonowitz has been working to educate the public about human rights problems, in particular the death penalty and the need for alternatives to the death penalty, for over 12 years. But he only came to his position after arguing FOR the death penalty for almost a year in an attempt to disprove the facts presented by death penalty opponents. In addition to much interaction with communities directly involved and impacted by capital punishment, he has personally conducted extensive research on the issue by studying the academic and statistical research available from the government, scholars and various non-government organizations.

Bonowitz has gained first hand knowledge of the issue by working in the death penalty section of the Ohio Public Defender Commission, with murder victims' family members, and with death row inmates in Alabama, California, Florida, Ohio, Texas and other states as well. He appears briefly in the film "Dead Man Walking" and has worked closely on several projects with author and spiritual advisor Helen Prejean, CSJ.

He has been a long-time activist with the U.S. Section of Amnesty International (AIUSA), including four years as a member of the Board of Directors of AIUSA. In addition to coordinating CUADP's efforts, he served as National Coordinator of the Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing(tm), Inc. from January to July, 1998. Bonowitz serves on the board of directors of the Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing, Inc., and also serves as the acting director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

 
 


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Re: Journey of Hope in Monterey

good job! Keep up the good work!!
 

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