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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
June 24, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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June 24, 1990
 

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PAGE 10 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC JUNE 24, Msgr. John O'Donnell rubbed his eyes and took a quick sip of coffee. It had been two hours since John Edward Swindler had died. For much of that time, O'Donnell had answered reporters' questions about the dead man's last hours and stood in front of glaring television lights to answer more ques- tions. When one reporter had asked what contribution Swindler could have made to society had he been allowed to live, O'Donnell had said, simply: "I don't know." Now, two hours later, a remarkable thing occurred to the priest. "In the past, when I've gone to see John Edward, I've always said, 'Hey, John, I love that." ya'," recalled O'Donnell. "He'd just nod." Execution night, however, was different. "Tonight, I told him that a lot of people were praying for him, support- ing him, loving him," O'Donnell said. "He seemed incredified, almost look- ing at me to detect a note of dishonesty. He looked at me like he hoped that I meant it, but afraid to find out that I didn't and trying to decipher the truth. He said nobody had ever told him that." Just before Swindler was led to the execution chamber, the priest said it again. "Hey, John. Don't forget. I love ya." Swindler stopped searching O'Donnell's face long enough to say: "I love you, too." "He said nobody had ever told him 1. Murder rates are lower in states which have abolished the death penalty. According to the FBI's 1986 Crime Index statistics, states which have abol- ished the death penalty averaged 4.9 murders per 100,000 persons; states still using it averaged 7.4 murders per 100,000. 2. Every western democracy except the U.S. has abolished the death penalty. The U. S. remains in the company of South Africa and the So- viet Union, the only other industrial- ized nations that still have the death penalty. 3. Innocent people are executed. A Stanford Law Review study found that at least 350 persons have been mistak- enly convicted of potentially capital crimes from 1900-85. Of these, 139 were sentenced to death and 23 were exe- cuted. Researchers Say that there are probably many more cases not yet iden- tified. 4. The death penalty means execut- ing children. There are more than 30 young people now sentenced to die for crimes committed before they were 18 years old. Some were as young as 15. Three have been executed already. 5. The death penalty discriminates against the poor. More than 99 percent of the people on death row are indi- gent, according to one U. S. Appeals Court judge. 6. Minority defendants are more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants, for the same crimes. In Georgia, for example, blacks are nearly three times as likely to be sen- tenced to death as whites charged in similar cases. 7. The death penalty means execut- ing retarded people. Six mentally-re- tarded persons have been executed since 1984. It is estimated that perhaps ...... (Sourm: Amm sty" 1. ti.tyf al) one in five of those now under sentence of death function at below-average in- telligence levels. 8. Only one in 100 convicted mur- derers is sentenced to death. Approxi- mately 20,000 persons commit murder in the U. S. each year. The 200 or so who are sentenced to death are not nec- essarily those whose crime were the most atrocious. Instead, they tend to be those who are poor, those who are people of color, and those whose vic- tims are white. 9. The death penalty is used primar- ily to punish those who kill whites. Of the more than 100 persons executed in the past 12 years, 86 percent involved white victims. An eight-state survey showed that defendants whose victims were white were four to ten times as likely to be sentenced to death as those whose victims were not white. 10. The death penalty costs more than life imprisonment. It costs taxpay- ers from $52 to $55 million per execu- tion. By contrast, the cost of imprison- ment runs about $25,000 per year. 11. Public opinion supports alterna- tives to the death penalq. When offered a range of sentencing options, respon- dents in several polls have shown a pref- erence for imprisonment rather than execution. A 1987 poll by the U. S. Justice Department, for instance, found imprisonment favored over the death penalty by a two-to-one margin as the sentence for first-degree murder. 12. Since abolishing its death pen- alty in 1976, Canada enjoys a lower murder rate. In 1975, the last year capital punish ment was legal in Can- ada, the homicide rate was 3.09 per 100,000 in population. Since abolition, it has never returned to that level. In 1985, the rate was 2.78 per 100,000. wins apanese in Has strong evangelical ties Lima, Peru (CNS) - Alberto Fujimori, Peru's president-elect, is a 51-year-old Catholic of Japanese ancestry who has strong connections to the country's evangelical churches. Fujimori, a former university rector, overcame racial slurs and suspicions of his evangelical connections to win over his opponent, novelist Mario Vargas Lloga. His victory was seen by many as a vote against Vargas Llosa, who prom- ised an economic shock plan to get the nation's economy back on its feet. Fujimori, whose parents moved to Peru from Japan in the early 1950s, had been the target of slurs. As Fujimori left his voting booth after the June 10 elec- tion, some Fujimori won despite some fears that evangelicals would power if he were elected. During the campaign, Augusto Vargas Alzamora of Lima sued a written statement advising ers that evangelicals comprise an portant part of Fujimori's su' Without naming Fujimori or his Carla" bio '90 independent party directly, the archbishop's statement referred to the "threat" posed to Catholics by the evan'ii gelicals. The statement said evangelical would use "political power gaine( through the elections." i Several of Fujimori's top supporters ! are members i opponents shouted "little Oriental thieF' and "Peru for Peruvians." One middle- class Lima businessman said, "I'm white and Catholic, and I don't think anything good can come of this little yel- low China- man." Alberto Fujimori Some sociologists and reform advo- cates have characterized Peru as a rac- ist society, with whites - about 15 per- cent of the population - holding the reins of power. But the elections showed that solid support came from Peru's lower classes and from the impoverished interior of the country. Where are deep divisions in society," said one Western diplomat who asked not to be identified. Whe poor just Fujimori began his campaign from the back of a tractor. didn't think Vargas Llosa and his people would do anything for them, even if they managed to solve the country's problems." While Vargas Llosa spent millions of dollars on his campaign and hired U.S. media consultants, Fujimori - an agri- cultural expert who was virtually un- known until a few months ago - began his campaign from the back of a trac- tor, touring the countryside around Lima with his wife and four children. In predominantly Catholic Peru, of evangelical i churcheS,: which accotnat!; for only aboUt ) five percent of ! Peruvian i churchgoerS: : Some top ev " gelical leaderS'i released state" ments saying vote for Fujimori would mean a vote for an end to alleged d!s'/ criminatiOO I against evarl" r gelicals by the majority Catholics. When Fujimori takes office July 28, he will face severe problems. Peru's flation is 2,000 percent, and the cottta" try has been estranged from the fin#" cial world since 1985, when Pres. Alan Garcia suspended payments on the; country's $19 billion foreign debt. : Fujimori said he would ta, ckle infla'," tion without cutting workers spendilag:I power. In the last decade, 19,000 Peruvians have been killed in violence linked to Sendero Luminoso, or Shining path, Maoist guerrilla group. The presidOa!" ii elect said he will not negotiate guerrillas. He also must tackle a dr0g industry that grows 60 percent of the world's coca, the raw material used to make cocaine. Fujimori said he woolCl not involve foreign troops in the figlat rlatlst against drugs and that legal crops be made profitable so farmers will gr# them. A distinguished academic, FujiW0 was graduated from National Agrari0 r, University and later became its reCt " From September 1970 to August 197 he attended the University of Wisc i sin in Milwaukee, where he earned: l Master's of Science and Mathemad-