Tuesday, September 28, 2004

For the life of Paula Cooper

In 1985, at age 15, Paula Cooper fatally stabbed 78-year-old Ruth Pelke in Gary. In 1986, she was sentenced to death, but three years later, her sentence was reduced to 60 years in prison. She is eligible for parole in 2015.

Many, many years ago, before I ever imagined that I would be doing anti-death penalty work for a living and certainly before I ever imagined I would meet someone named Bill Pelke, I watched an interview with Paula Cooper and Bill Pelke on 60 Minutes.

Bill Pelke, of course, is the grandson of Ruth Pelke. He has forgiven Paula for her actions and meets with her in prison from time to time. He's written a book which he will be signing at NCADP's upcoming conferenc entitled Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing.

A few days ago, there was a full-length story on Paula Cooper that was written by three 15-year-olds and published in the Indianapolis Star. It is worth a visit so go here.


Jessica said...

it is strange to know/meet someone who is on death row or has been executed. i grew up with brian cherrix (executed in March 2004 in VA). it was the 'talk of the town' when he was executed.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how Paula Cooper continues her life outside of prison. I am hoping that she does not let her supporters down, and goes on to do good things.

Anonymous said...

I knew Paula Cooper's mother. We worked together at a Hospital in Gary. I remember her mother as a very nice caring person. Although Paula became a "monster" to many in 1985, she was still her mother's baby. But, I was told some years later after leaving Indiana, that her mom couldn't deal with the pressure of condemning eyes on her because of what her daughter did, she left Indiana, her friends and removed herself from the judging Public. How was I to know that I would move to another state and go threw something as heinous as her mom. My oldest son killed my baby son. The oldest one was on the drug PCP and having one of his delusional episodes took the life of my baby who was innocent and had did nothing to him. The scars that these children who do these types of crimes are almost unbearable and noone could ever know the pain that we as the parents of these kids go through. You blame yourself because you feel you didn't do enough. But now that it has been 4 yrs. since this tragedy, you realize that these kids are not representing your values, morals or anything about you. It's all about them and what they have decided to do with their lives. Surely when Dahmer's mother was laughing and playing with her little baby boy, she had no idea that he would grow up to be a "monster". Nobody in their right mind raises a monster on purpose. It was so heartwarming for me to read about Mr. Pelke's involvement with Paula over the years and the relationship that he had established with her. My heart and hat goes off to him. He has done something that even some of us parents find hard to do, and that is to truly forgive someone who hurt you so much.

Much peace and love to all families who lose their loved ones to unnecessary violence.

Anonymous said...

why did you do that why couldnt yall find something better than killing someone

freedom hipsher said...

I was in the same prision as paula cooper.and spoke to her from time to time .paula is not a monster she is just someone who made a mistake in life and she is paying for it everyday,I know when she is released from prision she will be a great person .and I am pround to say that I know her

Anonymous said...