Being the Unabomber's brother

Ted Kaczynski
A photo of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski released April 4, 1996, the day after his arrest, by Lewis and Clark jail in Helena, Montana.
Rogers and Clark Co/AFP/Getty Images

Kaczynski's last bomb had gone off in 1995, a year before his capture. That was also the year the Washington Post agreed to publish the Unabomber's manifesto. The Unabomber had offered to end his string of attacks if they printed the 35,000-word screed against the evils of technology. But that document was ultimately Kaczynski's undoing.

The Unabomber's brother, David Kaczynski, and David's wife, read the manifesto. They recognized Ted Kaczynski's writing style and his philosophy, and they decided they had to go to the FBI. It was a difficult decision, David Kaczynski says, particularly because David knew that Ted could face the death penalty if he was convicted.

Ted Kaczynski wasn't put to death, but was sentenced to life in prison after his lawyers forced him to plead guilty. Prosecutors agreed to stop pursuing capital punishment, partly because Ted Kaczynski was a paranoid schizophrenic. But David Kaczynski says that other mentally ill defendants don't have the kind of first-rate legal representation that his brother had.

David's experience seeing mental illness meet the criminal justice system turned him from a social worker into an activist. David Kaczynski is now the executive director of New Yorkers against the Death Penalty, and on Jan. 31, 2006, he spoke about discovering his brother was the Unabomber at Macalester College in St. Paul. David Kaczynski's talk was sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

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