Democracy Now! August 28, 2002

Program Title:
Democracy Now! August 28, 2002
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 


24-year-old Toronto Patterson is set to die today at the hands of the State of Texas for a crime he is accused of committing when he was 17: we ll hear his story in his own words, and talk to the young people who interviewed him in prison. We ll also find out about a new report which found that more African-American men are in prison than in college. You thought Precrime was just an Orwellian, Hollywood fantasy? Dick Cheney's calling for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq because Saddam Hussein may eventually acquire nuclear weapons, and police in Delaware are building a database of potential criminals 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:07-9:20 24-YEAR-OLD TORONTO PATTERSON IS SET TO DIE TODAY AT THE HANDS OF THE STATE OF TEXAS FOR A CRIME HE IS ACCUSED OF COMMITTING WHEN HE WAS 17: WE LL HEAR HIS STORY, IN HIS OWN WORDS 24-year-old Toronto Patterson is scheduled to die today at the hands of the State of Texas. The young African-American man faces execution for a crime he is accused of committing when he was 17 years old. Toronto Patterson was convicted of shooting and killing his two cousins, ages 3 and 6, and their mother. Prosecutors say he killed them so he could steal the custom chrome wheels from a BMW parked in their garage. Patterson admits participation in the burglary leading up to the murders, but has maintained for years he was not the killer. The jury never heard evidence that the incriminating statement attributed to Toronto was taken by the same detective who extracted a false confession from another youthful capital murder suspect, just a month later. It is the third time in four months that a Texas prisoner who was 17 when he committed capital murder is scheduled for execution. The United States and Iran are the only countries in the world that actually continue to execute juvenile offenders. Since 1642, the US has executed an estimated 364 juvenile offenders. In the last 25 years, 20 juvenile offenders have been executed in the United States, over half of them in Texas. 17 states say the children who commit crimes when they re at least16 years old can be executed; five more states set the minimum age of 17. All young people under 18 years old in this country don t have the right to vote, sit on a jury, or drink. Today we re joined by two young people from Children s Press Line, a New York-based organization devoted to training young people in journalism. A few weeks ago, Trent and Nina s group went on a national book tour to interview young people about their views on faith. They decided they wanted to interview Toronto Patterson. So they wrote a set of questions and gave them to their group leader, Dax Devlon Ross. Ross interviewed Toronto Patterson earlier this month. Here is Tornoto Patterson s story, in his own words. TAPE: Toronto Patterson, 24-year old death row inmate set to die today in Texas 9:21-9:40 ; NEW REPORT FINDS MORE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN ARE IN PRISON THAN IN COLLEGE First we continue with the story of Toronto Patterson, the 24-year-old African-American man who is scheduled to be executed in Texas today. We ll talk to the young people who interviewed him in prison. Then, we discuss a new Justice Policy Institute study which has found that nearly 200,000 more African American men are in prison today than in college. The study also found that since 1980 the African American population in prison has increased fivefold. Meanwhile a new Justice Department report found 1 in every 32 adult Americans are now in prison, on parole or on probation. TAPE: Toronto Patterson, 24-year old death row inmate set to die today in Texas GUEST: Trent Spiner, 16 years old CONTACT: GUEST: Nina Pesa (Mia), 11 years old CONTACT: GUEST: Vince Schiraldi, president, Justice Policy Institute CONTACT: 9:41-9:58 YOU THOUGHT PRECRIME WAS JUST AN ORWELLIAN HOLLYWOOD FANTASY? POLICE IN DELAWARE ARE BUILDING A DATABASE OF POTENTIAL CRIMINALS I don t know if you ve gotten a chance to see the Hollywood movie Minority Report. It has gotten a great deal of media attention because it stars Tom Cruise. But what hasn t gotten much attention is the movie s subject: people being arrested for crimes before they commit them. Maybe you thought this was just a movie, about an Orwellian state not possible in this country today. But this weekVice President Dick Cheney called for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq because Saddam Hussein may eventually acquire nuclear weapons. He presented no evidence to bolster his case. And it has just emerged that police in Delaware are already creating a database of possible future suspects. The Wilmington Police Department in June formed a jump squad comprised of a team of officers who stop suspicious individuals and snap their photos. The people the police are stopping haven t committed a crime. But the database is used in future police lineups. Police are mostly visiting poor neighborhoods. The news first emerged in local Delaware papers, but has catapulted to the national and international scene. The ACLU is slamming the program and some city councilors are also opposed. But the Wilmington mayor told the Wilmington News Journal that criticism of the program is asinine and intellectually bankrupt, and he will not stop the practice. TAPE: trailer for the movie, Minority Report Guest: Drewry Nash Fennell, Executive Director of the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union Contact: Guest: John Rago, spokesman for Wilmington Mayor James Baker Contact: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits

Date Recorded on: 
August 28, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
August 28, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. August 28, 2002
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