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Reverend Jackson Says Allen Wrongfully ConvictedAired January 11, 2001 - 1:19 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We have Reverend Jackson with us now, who was released from jail early this morning; he joins us from Oklahoma City.
I talked with Governor Keating just a few minutes ago, Reverend Jackson, he says the two of you met this morning and you made your case. Did you get the impression that the governor was listening?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, my belief is he had an open mind about it. I might add, you know, we argued the case for Susan Smith, a white lady who killed her two babies in South Carolina -- that she should be granted life without parole, and she was clearly competent and guilty.
In this case of Wanda Jean Allen, the doctor said she had an IQ of 69; she's mentally challenged. The prosecutor said that she had finished college, which was to sway the jury that she was competent. She dropped out of school at 15, she never finished high school. Her lawyer asked not to be her lawyer because he was not competent to handle capital cases.
He sought to step down. The judge forced him to be her lawyer. So without mental competence -- with a case argued against her that was not accurate, without legal protection, she's scheduled to die. To appeal to Governor Keating tonight, to use his judgment to stay her execution.
WATERS: And if he stays the execution, what are the options for Wanda Allen? What do you hope to accomplish there, knowing, going in, that Governor Keating was the strong advocate of the death penalty that he is?
JACKSON: Well, you can be a strong advocate for the death penalty, and still be against wrongful conviction. After all, Oklahoma is No. 2 in releasing folks from death row, based upon some form of wrongful conviction. So that people who are not mentally competent, do not have adequate legal support of -- they are innocent -- in these circumstances, you must grant leniency.
Last week a man had been on death row for five years. They could not find the evidence. The night before he was to be executed, they found the information in another locker, in the same police headquarters that they could not find somehow. In part, this man's life was spared, based upon information being in the next locker. If they do DNA, his life might not be saved, but his life was spared.
WATERS: Governor Keating referred to this murder for which Wanda Allen has been sentenced to death, a premeditated murder; but he also referred back to a killing in 1981 for which he was convicted and then later released.
Now, when you talk about the sanctity of life, what about the sanctity of the second life taken after this woman who, apparently, is a violent person? What would you do with a person like that?
JACKSON: One cannot justify Wanda Jean Allen killing anybody, nor the state killing Wanda Jean Allen. We must kill the idea of killing and break the cycle of violence.
If she is killed tonight, Oklahoma will not be a safer state on tomorrow morning. The fact is, this fight took place at the police headquarters, where she had been fought by the victim with a rake and she fought back, eventually, with a gun. It was an ugly situation. You would not go to police headquarters and premeditate and plan to kill someone. It was ugly; it was wrong, but life without parole for a mentally retarded woman is a much higher moral ground for the state than, in fact, to premeditate and plan a killing.
We must break the cycle. There are 14 people scheduled to die this month, nine of them in Oklahoma. We're asking this governor for moratorium, at least, on a case-by-case basis.
WATERS: Thanks for stopping by; Reverend Jackson making his case today in Oklahoma.
JACKSON: Thank you very much.
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