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March 28, 1980 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-28

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, March 28, 1980-Page 9

OAKLAND PROSECUTOR LEADS PETITION DRIVE
Death penalty may reach ballot

By CATHY BROWN
Oakland County Prosecutor L.
Brooks Patterson says, "There's no
doubt in my mind" that a state-wide
petition drive to place a referendum
to reinstate the death penalty in
Michigan on the November 1982
ballot will succeed.
"I know what it takes and I'm will
ing to put forth the effort into it,"
said Patterson, the petition drive's
chief promoter. "This week I'll give
five speeches and next week five
more."'
According to the prosecutor, 30,000
of the 288,000 signatures needed to
put the proposal on the ballot have
already been gathered.
CAPITAL punishment has been
banned in the state since 1846, when
it was ruled unconstitutional by the
state Supreme Court. Current -law
provides that persons convicted of
first-degree murder in the state may
be released from prison only upon
the governor's pardon.
A petition to put a similar proposal
on the November 1978 ballot failed
by approximately 10,000 signatures.
Patterson said he considers his drive
"better organized" than its
predecessor and added, "I have
given myself enough time, as well as
already having gone through a suc-
cessful petition drive on the 1978
ballot."

THIRTY-NINE states and three-
federal jurisdictions have re-
instituted the death penalty since
1972, according to Patterson. "We're
clearly in the minority on that
question," he said.
Patterson said he is in favor of the
death penalty because "the criminal
justice system does not punish the
offender.
"It's been an evolutionary process
with me," he explained. "After 11
years, I've gradually come to this
conclusion." Patterson said the
killing of an Oakland County woman
by a man who admitted guilt, but
said he committed the act to see
what it felt like to commit murder
provided the impetus to start the
drive. When that occurred, he said,
"I said that's it that's it. I feel
capital punishment will deter some
first degree murders."
MEMBERS OF several groups
opposed to the petition drive
disagree with Patterson on that
point. "He's not familiar with the
facts, there's no correlation between
the ups and downs of the murder
rate and the existence of the death
penalty," said Eugene Wanger, co-
chairman of the Michigan Commit-
tee Against Capital Punishment.
Wanger said the number of mur-
ders in states where capital punish-
ment is legal does not decrease near

the times of well-publicized
executions. He added that "in some
cases (executions) cause a suicide-
murder syndrome." This, he said,
occurs when a person frightened to
take his own life murders someone
else to gain publicity.
"It (the death penalty) is not just a.
deterrent," Wanger said, "but
creates additional victims."
"CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ap-
plies not only to premeditated mur-

trying to educate people so they
won't vote for it. It's a basic
educational, effort and campaign
against the death penalty," she ad-
ded. Bove said - the National
Association for the Advancement of
Colored People, church groups,
labor- movements, and women's
organizations are also joining in the
fight against the petitions.
State Appellate Defender Jim
Neuhard is also working to oppose

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'Capital punishment is a violation of
the cruel and unusual punishment
amendment.' -Brenda Bove, American
Civil Liberties Union
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der, but also to those convicted un-
der the felony-murder
rule.., anyone involved in the crim
could be convicted of first degree
murder, including the get-away-car
driver," Wanger added.
"Capital punishment is a violation
of the cruel and unusual punishment
amendment, the Eighth Amen-
dment. It's as basic as that," said
Brenda Bove of the American Civil
Liberties Union.
"WE'RE TRYING to raise funds:
to stop it (the petition drive) and
I

the petition. "We're informing
people close to the criminal justice
system, judges, lawyers, etc. of the
effect capital punishment will have
on them," along with "locating and
talking with those released from
prison on governor's pardon," noted
Neuhard.
"I had a friend in Florida who had
four or five clients on death row and
he had a nervous breakdown. He's
not practicing law now. He couldn't
take it," he added. "It traumatizes
the people associated with it."

HEW: Pot stronger,

users

starti

WASHINGTON (AP) Government
health officials sounded alarms yester-
y that American youths are smoking
Wore potent marijuana and starting at
earlier ages despite new evidence that
marijuana poses serious health hazar-
ds.,
The Department of Health,
Education and Welfare (HEW), said in
a report to Congress that marijuana
smoking "now often begins at a much
earlier age and is more likely to be
frequent rather than experimental use"
n comparison with 1970.
IT SAID THE potency of street
marijuana has increased markedly in
the past five years while the percentage
of high-school seniors who smoke
marijuana daily has jumped from 5.7
per cent for the class of 1975 to 10.3 per
cent for the class of 1979.
It said that although marijuana has
not been conclusively linked to lung
cancer, "it appears likely that daily use
of marijuana leads to lung damage
similar to that resulting from heavy
*igarette smoking."
The 48-page report, "Marijuana and
Health - 1980," was prepared by
HEW's National Institute on Drug
Abuse. It is the eighth such report to
Congress.
IT CITED one study that found
smoking less than one marijuana joint
per day diminished a smoker's ability
to breathe deeply as much as 16
cigarettes did.
It also said some animal and human
tudies indicate marijuana may lower
the sperm count in males and affect fer-
tility in females.
"Given the many unknowns concer-
ning the effects of marijuana on fetal
development, the use of marijuana
during pregnancy should continue to be
strongly discouraged," it said.
THE REPORT, citing surveys by the
University Institute for Social Resear-
ch, said 60 per cent of last year's high

ng earlier
school seniors had tried marijuana and,
37 per cent were current users, smoking
it in the month prior to the survey. At
the same time, the survey found that
the percentage of those seniors who fir-
st tried marijuana in the ninth grade
was more than 30 per cent, up from 17
per cent in the class of 1975.
The report said eight per cent of
children ages 12 and 13 have had some
experience with marijuana. That per-
centage rises to a peak of 62 per cent
among young adults between 22 and 25.
But it said that even those who feel
occasional, social use of marijuana by
healthy adults is not a serious problem
agree that "frequent use by children
and adolescents can be seriously
disruptive."
ACCORDING TO estimates from a
1977 survey, 43 million Americans had
tried it as of spring 1977 and 16 million
had smoked it in the month before the
survey.
Dr. William Pollin, director of the
drug abuse institute, said in a
statement, "While many of the con-
clusions in this report are disturbing,
my greatest concern is for the youth of
our country, who, at a physically
vulnerable age, are using increasing
amounts of stronger marijuana.
The report said that marijuana con-
fiscated by police in 1975 seldom had
more than one per cent content of THC
- Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the
main psychoactive ingredient that
gives users their "high" - but "by 1979
samples as high as five per cent THC
content were common."
Pollin said, "Many young people
want to view marijuana as a simple
herb with the power to enhance their
lives. In fact, research is showing it to
be a complex drug which can
negatively affect learning and motor
coordination, and may eventually lead
to serious health problems."

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