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Remembering Mayor Bill Sandberg

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Remembering Mayor Bill Sandberg

Dear Friends:

Mayor Bill Sandberg of North Saint Paul (Minnesota)Earlier this week, Mayor Bill Sandberg of North Saint Paul passed away at the age of 76. Bill was a dear friend and mentor to me for more than 20 years, and I share our community's profound sense of loss for this beloved leader.

It was Bill's encouragement, support and energy that inspired me to enter public life. I was honored to serve under his leadership on the North Saint Paul City Council and work closely with him in the following years. Above all else, I valued his devoted friendship, his deep love for his family, and his noble commitment to the community he served.

At the time of his death, Bill was the longest-serving mayor in Minnesota. His spirit and service are irreplaceable. For all who knew and worked with him, the blessing of his friendship will be sorely missed.

Last week in Congress, I introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, H.J.Res. 80, to abolish the death penalty in the United States. Criminals who are found guilty of committing heinous acts should be sentenced to life in prison as a punishment and for the well-being of society. Fighting crime, achieving justice, and elevating human dignity are all damaged by state-sponsored executions.

Here are a few facts about the current system of capital punishment in the U.S.:

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128 death row inmates, since 1973, have been wrongly convicted and exonerated of their crimes.

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A death penalty case costs taxpayers millions more than it takes to imprison an inmate for life without parole in a maximum security prison.

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84% of criminal experts say that capital punishment does not deter crimes, and a New York Times study has found that homicide rates in states with capital punishment are actually 48-101% higher than in states without the death penalty.

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More than 40% of death row inmates are African American, and multiple studies show that the race of victims and defendants has a dramatic impact on death sentencing rates.

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Today, according to the Gallup Poll, less than half of Americans support the death penalty over life without parole.

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In 2007, 88% of the world's executions were carried out by 5 countries: the United States, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Capital punishment is has no place in an advanced society like the United States. Executing criminals is more about revenge than justice, and it should be abolished.

Sincerely,

Betty McCollum Signature
Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Serving Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District

The Week Ahead

• Celebrating Earth Day 2008
As our environment becomes more fragile than ever, the Democratic Congress is pursuing real progress on alternative energy, sustainability, and environmental preservation. Click here to read Rep. McCollum's Earth Day message.

• In Committee: Assessing Abstinence-Only Education and Environmental Protection
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform holds two major hearings this week. On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the committee assessed the effectiveness of federally-funded sexual education programs that prohibit teaching about condoms or other contraceptive methods. On Thursday at the same time, the committee will review the EPA's new smog rules, which may have been manipulated by the Bush administration and its industry allies.

Last Week's Highlights

• Rep. McCollum Says U.S. Can End Global Poverty
In a lecture at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Monday, the Congresswoman called on the United States to take the lead in the effort to end global poverty. She pointed out that "Every year 8 million people die because they are too poor to get the basics they need to stay alive. ...For the cost of just three days in Iraq - $1 billion - we can invest in additional child survival efforts that will save at least one million newborns and toddlers." Click here (PDF) to read the full speech.


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