Death Sentence: The Murder of Ruth Pelke & the Punishment of Paula Cooper Podcast
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Death Sentence: The Murder of Ruth Pelke & the Punishment of Paula Cooper

In Episode 542

On a weekday afternoon in 1985 in Gary, Indiana, fifteen-year-old Paula Cooper stabbed 78-year-old Ruth Pelke to death. In a city with a history of racism, Ruth was a white, beloved bible teacher who refused to move out of her overwhelmingly black neighborhood. When Paula and her friends showed up at Ruth’s door that day asking about bible studies, Ruth had happily invited them in.

Join us at the quiet end for Death Sentence: The Murder of Ruth Pelke & the Punishment of Paula Cooper. When Paula was sentenced to death, few argued against the state’s impending execution of a tenth grader. But when the victim’s grandson forgave the girl, the media brought the story to the forefront and millions signed petitions in support of Paula. This case raises questions about the value of a human life and whether our justice system is made for rehabilitation or retribution.

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A Clear Scientific Consensus that the Death Penlty Does Not Deter, Amnesty International, retrieved 3/14/2024,

Biden vowed to end the death penalty. Activists are demanding action as he nears the 100-day mark,,  Christina Carrega, 4/25/2021

Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates: The Views of Leading Criminologists’ Michael L. Radelet Traci L. Lacock, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Winter 2009,

IndyStar Archives 1985-2017

Seventy Times Seven: A True Story of Murder and Mercy by Alex Mar, 2023

Mar 25 2024
True Crime
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