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Six years after David Kaczynski first suspected that his brother Ted was the “Unabomber” — and embarked on an incredible personal journey in which he essentially handed his sibling over for possible execution — the Schenectady, N.Y., social worker is taking over as the full-time executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. Kaczynski said Wednesday that he will strive to foment a grassroots opposition to capital punishment. “I have always, since I was a child, had an instinctive feeling that the death penalty was wrong,” Kaczynski said at a press conference Wednesday. “It wasn’t a central issue for me. Obviously, my brother’s case has made it a central issue.” In 1995, the same year that New York reinstated the death penalty, Kaczynski and his wife, Linda Patrik, recognized Theodore Kaczynski’s words and thoughts in a Unabomber manifesto published in The Washington Post. They feared that the man who was his brother and her brother-in-law was the man responsible for a 17-year mail-bombing spree that killed three people and injured 23. “As we investigated further and our suspicions deepened, we were faced with an agonizing dilemma: Either we could let well enough alone and hope for the best, or we could approach the FBI with our suspicions,” Kaczynski said. “We chose the latter because we knew we couldn’t live with ourselves if another innocent person were killed because we failed to act . … We wanted to do what was right and decent, despite the high personal cost.” The cost, however, was higher than anticipated. Kaczynski said the U.S. Department of Justice promptly broke several promises, including a pledge to keep his role confidential, and sought the death penalty after promising that the Unabomber would receive appropriate treatment for mental illness. The Justice Department, however, has publicly denied misleading Kaczynski. “This was hardly the kind of treatment we had in mind,” Kaczynski said. “Linda and I made our decisions based on deeply held moral convictions. We were convinced that, of course, Ted had to be stopped. But we were also convinced that it was wrong to execute a mentally ill person, so we spoke out against the government’s decision to seek the death penalty . … There is something absurd about making a brother choose between the life of his brother, someone he loves, and the lives of potential victims he does not know.” Eventually, Theodore Kaczynski pleaded guilty and received a life sentence. David Kaczynski and Patrik received the New York State Bar Association’s 1999 Justice Award for their action and advocacy. Now, Kaczynski is on another crusade, this one on behalf of everyone who might be exposed to capital punishment. He is the perfect person to lead that effort, said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. Bishop Hubbard is president of the board of directors of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. “I think we are all aware that there is a growing movement in the country and in our state for a moratorium,” Hubbard said. “People across the political spectrum are reconsidering whether the death penalty is an appropriate way in which to address the issue of violent crime within our society. So with this new momentum, we thought it very important that we move from a part-time to a full-time director and that we have a [presence in Albany].” Faced with increasing evidence that innocent people have been sentenced to death, a number of jurisdictions have either instituted or called for moratoriums on imposition of capital punishment. Earlier this year, the New York State Bar called upon Gov. George Pataki to declare a moratorium in New York. O’CONNOR SPEECH More recently, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has generally supported the death penalty during her two decades on the Court, told the Minnesota Women Lawyers in Minneapolis that “serious questions are being raised” about the death penalty. O’Connor observed that 90 death row inmates have been exonerated by new evidence since 1973, and acknowledged that “the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.” Kaczynski said it is clear that the “views of the American people on the death penalty are undergoing a profound shift,” and is eager to seize the moment. He said he is developing a strategy aimed generally at persuading the general public in the hopes that political leaders will respond to the changing views of their constituents. “As we know pretty well, politicians change their mind depending on what they think their constituents want,” Kaczynski said. “Here is where the issue of public education comes in . … I am at a point where I am willing to talk to just about anybody because I think the facts, the logic, the reasoning — the things that make us human, that make human life valuable — are on our side in this debate. We have seen very conservative people who have been swayed and changed their opinion, and not just a few, many across the country.” The organization has roughly 1,000 members. Its initial aim was to prevent restoration of capital punishment in New York state, and after losing that battle, the organization is now hoping to get an immediate moratorium with the long-term goal of repealing the law as soon as possible. New York has not performed an execution since 1963, but six convicts are currently on death row. Sometime next year, the state’s Court of Appeals is likely to hear its first death penalty case since capital punishment was reinstated in 1995, according to court spokesman Gary Spencer. The first case to be argued, People v. Darrel K. Harris, will be followed by the cases of People v. Angel Mateo, People v. Robert Shulman, People v. Stephen LaValle and People v. Nicholson McCoy. Half of those cases arise out of Suffolk County, where District Attorney James M. Catterson Jr. is a leading supporter of the death penalty. Bishop Hubbard said the church’s position on the death penalty is that it is justified only in the rarest of circumstances where public safety cannot be assured through any other remedy. He said that American Catholic leadership is in agreement that there is no place in the United States where that condition can be met. Hubbard, a longtime opponent of capital punishment and an influential voice at New York’s Capitol, said Kaczynski will be paid between $30,000 and $40,000 annually. “He is a man of integrity,” Hubbard said. “He is a man of courage. He is a very thoughtful and sensitive person and we think he is going to be a wonderful executive director for our organization.” Most recently, Kaczynski, a graduate of Columbia University, served as a social worker with Equinox, an Albany, N.Y., area agency.

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