David Kaczynski to Discuss Death Penalty

Published 04.11.2005


"The Death Penalty Up Close and Personal" with David Kaczynski
8 p.m. Tuesday, April 12; ACC Auditorium

What would you do if you realized that your brother was on "America's Most Wanted" list? Come hear one man's story as he discusses what his family has gone through since he turned in his brother, Theodore a.k.a. "The Unabomber" to the FBI and how the death penalty has affected them all.

David KaczynskiThe Kaczynski family became a focus of media attention in April 1996 with the arrest and subsequent conviction of Theodore Kaczynski as the so-called Unabomber, responsible for a series of mail bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others over 17 years. It was soon leaked that Theodore's brother, David, a youth counselor, and David's wife, Linda Patrik, a college professor, had approached the FBI with their suspicions about Theodore, thus bringing an end to the violence.

The couple felt betrayed when the U.S. Justice Department broke its promise to keep the family's role in the investigation confidential and again when it sought the death penalty despite Theodore's serious mental illness. David and Linda lobbied tirelessly for nearly two years to prevent the execution of David's brother.

In 1998, David and Linda received a $1 million reward from the Justice Department for their role in the Unabomb investigation, which they subsequently dedicated minus attorney's fees and taxes to the victims and their families. With help from the Community Foundation for the Capital Region, they set up the Unabomb Survivors Fund, which distributed $680,000 to victims of the assaults.

In 1999, David and Linda traveled to California and lobbied unsuccessfully for clemency for Manny Babbitt, a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran. Babbitt, a poor African-American, was turned in by his brother, Bill, to the Sacramento police, who promised that Manny would receive help for his mental illness and not get the death penalty.

Since Manny's execution, David has given numerous speeches and appeared on several national television shows voicing his opposition to the death penalty. In 1999, David and Linda were honored by the New York State Bar Association with its annual Justice Award the organization's only presentation to nonlawyers. David has addressed community, school, and professional audiences on a range of topics, including the death penalty, mental illness, nonviolence and ethical decision-making.

In July 2001, David was selected after a nationwide search as the new Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, a statewide organization that unconditionally opposes capital punishment.