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Use money to give kids a good start

I suppose being 20 years and 1,000 miles from a vicious crime makes some of our neighbors feel sorry for a poor unfortunate Negro man who was convicted by a jury (just like you and I) of a vicious, unthinkable crime. He has had multiple appeals reviewed by members of our judiciary, none of which had any doubt of his guilt. Yet people who have no idea of the mountain of evidence that convicted this man have decided he is was railroaded by our justice system because he was Negro.

This crime was committed in Chino, Calif. At the time, my wife and I, along with our children, lived about two miles from the location of the crime. When the alert went out as to Kevin Cooper’s escape from the California Youth Authority penal institution, we all locked our doors and escorted our children to school. This was a “terror” alert for the entire community surrounding this penal institution.

The California Youth Authority in Chino houses the most violent criminals, 21 and under, who have been convicted of multiple violent crimes in the State of California. It is also a national model for its rehabilitation of these types of criminals.



If you had ever toured this facility, as I had done with my Kiwanis group several times, you would see its attempt to train these youth for work and life outside. They have schools in carpentry, automotive repair, plumbing, electrical wiring, computer operation, and many other vocational trades. Many of the business owners in this area offer jobs to the persons on their discharge. This facility offers a future for these youth who have mostly come from violent and abusive home lives in a ghetto area.

This particular individual rejected all of this help and opportunity and chose to escape. The morning after his escape, he was tracked across an open field to the Chino Hills subdivision, where it was found he had entered the home where the brutal murders were committed.




If my memory is correct, he entered the home through the garage door and attempted to steal the car in the garage. When discovered, he grabbed an ax and hacked the husband, wife, their young daughter and her friend (who was visiting, doing homework), and then attacked the 5-year-old son sleeping in his bed. The young boy faked being dead and was left with his throat cut and several hacks with the hatchet. Somehow he survived, and the crime was discovered the next morning.

Also, I believe there was evidence that this attacker went to the kitchen, where he fixed a meal while the victims bled to death. He left the home on foot and was located and arrested in the area later that day (himself, no partners or other escapees).

Now he has these supporters who think he does not deserve to die. Instead we should spend another $1 million (in addition to the millions spent all ready on his appeals) to hold him in prison for the rest of his life.

We all know that had he been given the right childhood, he probably would not have ended up a vicious murderer, but that is past, and rehabilitation to a normal life is near impossible and extremely costly. Wouldn’t it be better to use the money to provide better childhoods for a hundred potential murderers who have needs in the ghetto areas of California, and save them before they become another Mr. Cooper?

Even God has to make choices on who lives and who dies. However, he apparently leaves some of these decisions up to us.

Harold Barber is a resident of Nevada City.


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