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Michael Mello Collection Highlights Additions to UAlbany's National Death Penalty Archive
Internationally recognized lawyer and scholar represented Ted Bundy, Paul Hill

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 22, 2006) -- The University at Albany announced several additions to its National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA), including papers and research materials of attorney Michael A. Mello, an internationally recognized authority on the death penalty and capital punishment who represented Joseph Robert "Crazy Joe" Spaziano, Theodore Bundy, and Paul Hill. The additions also include supplements to the Bill Babbitt Collection, including materials related to the execution of Manny Babbitt in California on May 4, 1999, and the subsequent activism of his brother Bill, as well as new materials added to the Abraham J. Bonowitz Collection and the Bill Pelke Collection.

About the current additions:

  • The Michael A. Mello Collection
    Michael A. Mello is an internationally recognized authority on the death penalty and capital punishment issues. Examples of cases that he has been involved in or in which he has served as an informal advisor include those of Theodore Kaczynski, Joseph Robert "Crazy Joe" Spaziano, Theodore Bundy, and Paul Hill. Professor Mello's courses taught at Vermont Law School have included Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Ethics, a Capital Punishment seminar, and a Search and Seizure seminar. The collection includes material related to Professor Mello's publications; research files; files related to individual capital punishment cases including Spaziano and Kaczynski; publications including Deathwork: Defending the Condemned, Dead Wrong: A Death Row Lawyer Speaks Out Against Capital Punishment, and related material.
  • The Abraham J. Bonowitz Collection
    Photographic prints, negatives, digital images, clippings, and records from Bonowitz' time as Director of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP), an organization that works to end the death penalty in the United States through aggressive campaigns of public education and the promotion of tactical grassroots activism. There are also materials from Bonowitz' time as a board member of the Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing, Inc., and as a board member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and pertaining to his participation in anti-death penalty activism with Amnesty International USA, the Abolitionist Action Committee and others.
  • The Bill Babbitt Collection
    The Bill Babbitt Collection consists of materials related to the execution of Manny Babbitt in California on May 4, 1999, and the subsequent activism of his brother Bill Babbitt, who is a Board Member of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. Manny, who received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, was a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was convicted for the murder of an elderly woman who had died of a heart attack after a break-in and beating, and sent to death row in 1982. The collections includes personal effects from Manny's cell after he was put to death, court documents, photos of his friends and their families, family photos, Manny's poems and other writings, books in his library, and cards and letters sent to him from around the world. Also included are newspaper clippings of the arrest, clemency campaign and execution of Manny Babbitt, VCR tapes of news coverage of the clemency campaign with David Kaczynski, VCR and CD tapes of documentaries featuring Bill Babbitt, and several books on the Babbitt story.
  • The Bill Pelke Collection
    This collection contains organizing material for Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) and Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR). There are also materials from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), Amnesty International and materials related to Juveniles and the death penalty.  "Journey of Hope ...From Violence to Healing" is an organization that is led by murder victims' family members.  It conducts public education speaking tours and addresses alternatives to the death penalty.  The collection includes public materials from the Journey of Hope cofounder, Bill Pelke; descriptions of events; t-shirts; and videos of marches.  It also includes personal letters with death row inmates (e.g., Michael Ross, Karla Faye Tucker and others), Paula Cooper files,
    files on forgiveness and miscellaneous additional materials including newspaper articles, newsletters, and pictures from abolition events in the United States and foreign countries.

Babbitt will discuss his collection at a reception held at the NDPA on Friday, October 6 at 5:15 p.m. as part of the 2nd Annual Albany Symposium on Crime and Justice -- The Next Generation of Death Penalty Research: Priorities, Strategies, and an Agenda. For more information on the conference, visit the Capital Punishment Research Initiative.

The University at Albany Library's M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is collaborating with CPRI to maintain and grow the National Death Penalty Archive.

UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice announced the establishment of NDPA, a national repository of archival material devoted solely to the death penalty in August 2005. The National Death Penalty Archive was initiated by the school's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) to collect archival materials documenting the important history of capital punishment, and to provide resources for historical scholarship. The collection of historical materials will be an unrivaled resource for scholars, students, and the public interested in the history of capital punishment in America, and in the legal and political battles engendered by the sanction. In addition to housing the records and documents of leading figures in scholarship, and legal and community organizations concerning capital punishment, the archive includes oral history interviews featuring prominent activists and professionals involved in death penalty abolition efforts and related work. For more information on the archives, visit the National Death Penalty Archives.

The Capital Punishment Research Initiative, part of the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, was founded in the late 1990s with three primary goals: (1) to build and maintain a national archive for historical documents and data on the death penalty; (2) to plan and conduct basic and policy related research on capital punishment; and (3) to encourage scholarship, conduct graduate and undergraduate training, and disseminate scientifically grounded knowledge about the ultimate penal sanction. For more information, visit the Capital Punishment Research Initiative.

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is home to print, manuscript, and archival sources on a wide array of historical topics. The department provides more than 25,000 cubic feet of temperature and humidity controlled shelving space. For additional information on the National Death Penalty Archive, visit Capital Punishment Research Initiative or contact

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