This week the Indiana Supreme Court released former death row inmate Paula Cooper after serving 26 years. In 1985 Cooper stabbed 76 year-old Ruth Pelke to death in a robbery with three other teens. Cooper was sentenced to death at age 16, becoming the youngest person on death row in the U.S. Bill Pelke, grandson of the victim, lead an international effort, which included an appeal for mercy from Pope John Paul II, to get Cooper’s sentence commuted. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down death sentences for juveniles, Indiana commuted her sentence to 60 years. But after recognizing her rehabilitative efforts the Indiana Supreme Court ordered the release of the 43 year old woman.
In an interview on Democracy Now Sr. Helen Prejean and Bill Pelke share their stories of what led them to become involved in the death penalty movement. To hear the interview click here.