North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.
A sad reflection
While John Spenkelink was being prepared for execution last Friday, he
reportedly expressed the hope that "some good" would come of his death.
But if Spenkelink's hope was for early abolition of capital punishment,
then it was a wish which apparently will not be fulfilled.
Whatever outcry may have been raised by the press over Spenkelink's
death will soon be forgotten, it seems, and whatever revulsion may have
been felt by the general public will soon pass. The vivid, horrifying phrases
of the news accounts and the well-turned arguments of editorials leave no
lasting impressions. And as for public outrage, the protestors in Raiford,
Fla.V where Spenkelink was electrocuted, never numbered over a few
hundred, and now have faded again into anonymity and silence. None of the
public-opinion samplers seem to have produced any figures on the number
of Americans who were convinced of the evil of capital punishment by
Spenkelink's death. It does seem likely, though, that the majority which last
year favored the death penalty for certain crimes will continue, at least for a
time, to be a majority.
Meanwhile, the bureaucratic wheels which dispatch the John
Spenkelinks of the nation continue to roll in their almost imperceptible
fashion, toward still more sentencings, still more death-watches, still more
More than 500 men and women now wait on death rows across the U nited
States, and they are joined by some 100 additional prisoners doomed to
death each year. There is even evidence of a nationwide trend toward
increased employment of capital punishment. Oregon, which many years
ago abolished it, adopted it once again last December following a voter
initiative. South Dakota and New Mexico also enacted new laws this year.
In California, voters last November overwhelmingly approved an initiative
to expand the number of crimes punishable by death. Maine, Ohio and
Colorado seem likely to reinstate the death sentence this year. Efforts in
Nebraska, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey may well add those
states to the list, which already includes 35 states. According to opponents
of the death sentence, the trend is very definitely toward re-establishment,
and their great fear is that the Spenkelink execution has broken the
psychological barrier against more executions.
That may be an overly simple view. What appears to have come upon us is
the culmination of nearly a decade of redefinition of capital punishment.
The effective moratorium on executions which lasted from 1967 until 1977
found its genesis in the nation's strong doubts about the propriety and
fairness of capital punishment. But those doubts were resolved by the
Supreme Court in a series of decisions beginning in 1972; and now, the
painfully slow wheels of bureaucracy have at last brought us to the point
foreshadowed by the court's decisions: an era in which a large number of
states have both constitutional death penalties and working death
It is difficult to imagine how a reasonable person can conclude that the
possible deterrent effect of ritualized killings by the state can justify the
fearful prices involved in both lives and in the public spirit. It is especially
difficult to imagine how a reasonable person can reconcile capital
punishment with this nation's ideals of freedom and justice. There is indeed
a kind of logic to the penalty of death for killers but in a place and time in
which more-positive remedies are possible, why must the terrible penalties of
such barbarism be paid?
Some good may yet come of John Spenkelink's death. Many opponents
of capital punishment feel that the nation will sicken in time of the spectacle
of such carnage. But it is a sad reflection that more probably many more
must die before that time arrives.
Decade of conf Net
By ELLIOTT WA RNOCK
Officials at both the Department of
Health, Education and Welfare and the
University of North Carolina are'
awaiting U.S. District Judge Franklin
Dupree's ruling on a suit filed by the
University in April.
UNC requested in the suit that HEW
be enjoined from proceeding with plans
to cut federal funds designated for the
University. The University has also
requested that UNC be declared by';
Dupree to be in compliance with Title
VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. .
HEW maintains UNC is in violation
of the act, which declares that no federal
"funds may be used for programs that
further racial segregation.
Should Dupree refuse UNCs request
for a preliminary injuction against
HEW, the Department could proceed
with administrative action, started in
April, to cut federal aid to .the
4 The Summer Tar Heel ; Thursday. May 31. 1979
University. The cut could amount to $89
Dupree is expected to decide the case
by June 11. He has already extended a
temporary restraining order - against
HEW actions and refused a change of
venue request by HEW to have the
proceedings moved to Washington D.C.
Some speculation has been offered by
both UNC and HEW lawyers that
Dupree may think the UNC suit is
premature. The speculation is based on
some cautious wording near the end of
Dupree's denial of the HEW change of
"Our discussion.. .raises serious
questions concerning the court's
jurisdiction and what, if any, injuctive
relief the plaintiffs (UNC) should
receive," Dupree wrote in his ruling last
Attorneys for UNC state in their brief
that the court has jurisdiction in the case
since it is an action arising under the
First, Fifth and 10th Amendments to
the constitution,, as well as sections of
the United States Code. UNC claims
HEWs actions are interfering with the
right of North Carolina to form and
preserve its educational system.
The University maintains in its suit
that if HEW should terminate funds it
would "irreparably and substantially
injure" the UNC system. "The loss of
programs or faculty members or both"
would result, the brief stated.
UNC also asserts the University has
spent "millions of dollars and thousands
of hours in successfully overcoming the
effects of a formerly segregated system
of higher education."
N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt proposed in
April that $40 million of state funds be
spent to upgrade the state's five
predominantly black campuses. HEW
accepted this proposal but still holds
that duplication of programs at white,
and black schools in the UNC system
- In the suit pending before Dupree,
UNC maintains that HEW never
defined "educationally unnecessary
program duplication." UNC also states
that HEW never issued any standard by
which to measure the success of
desegregation other' than having
" enough blacks attending the white
schools and 'enough' whites attending
the black schools."
On Aug. 11, 1977, HEW published
the Amended De Jure Criteria, which
says state systems must "provide an
equal educational opportunity.. .open
and accessible to all students." .
Attorneys for UNC claim this is
contradicted by HEW director of the
Office of Civil Rights David Tatel's
statement on Dec. 10,. 1978 that the
"whole purpose of these plans is to
protect black institutions.. .to preserve
the identity of a black institution and
have it integrated."
Peter Hamilton, Deputy General
Counsel for HEW, told University
officials at a meeting March 8, 1979, in
Washington that the Department could
not decide "case by case" and "program
by program" what would be required of
UNC for HEW to consider the
University in compliance with Title VI.
He described to UNC officials what the
University's brief calls "contours of an
Attorneys for the University say they
have requested copies of transparencies
of the "contours" from HEW but have
not received them yet.
The Office of Civil Rights issued its
first guidelines for Title VI compliance
by colleges on Jan. 28, 1970. They were
1) recruitment of black students; 2)
recruitment of black faculty members at "
white colleges; 3) more financial aid for
blacks; 4) preparation of remedial
programs for disadvantaged students;
and 5) clear statements of
. nondiscrimination in employment.
. The Office of Civil Rights accepted
UNC President William Friday's
proposals for compliance with those
: guidelines in July 1970.; 7; ( ; c !
HEW was spurred onto further action
by a 'suit filed in October" 1970 in
Washington D C. by the -NAACP
against HEW. The suit alleged HEW
had failed in its obligation to enforce
U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt
ruled three years later in Washington
that HEW must expidite enforcement of
Title VI. In March 1979 the NAACP
requested the enforcement proceedings
be applied specifically against North
No other state university system was
named in the suit.
Depending on Dupree's forthcoming
decision, HEW secretary Joseph
Califano might be held in contempt of
court by Pratt. If Dupree were to deny
UNC's request for an injuction against
HEW, Califano would be compelled by
Pratt's order to proceed with action to
cut funds to UNC or face the possible
Were Dupree to grant UNCs request,
the ruling whether it or Pratt's order
held precedence would have to be
decided by a higher court.
Elliott Warnock, a senior journalism
major from Chapel Hill, is associate
editor of the Summer Tar Heel -!