Skip to content Skip to footer

Fighting for Freedom From Death Row: The Story of Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper has lived for more than three decades on death row despite clear evidence that he was framed.

Kevin Cooper

This week, Better Off Red interviews Kevin Cooper, who has lived for more than three decades on death row in San Quentin prison for a quadruple homicide, despite clear evidence that he was framed by the San Bernadino County Sherriff’s Department.

Kevin talks to us about his long fight for freedom — including the darkest moments on February 9, 2004, when he came within four hours of being murdered by the state of California. He was saved that night by a last-minute court decision that was the result of a nationwide campaign of protests and “Live from Death Row” events in which Kevin spoke to thousands of people across the country.

Listen to this interview and you’ll quickly understand why Kevin Cooper was able to inspire so many people to get involved in the fight for his life and, as he always insists, the life of every single person threatened by the death penalty. Kevin also talks to us about his intellectual and political awakening over the long course of his fight, and in particular the role played by comrades in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, a group we at Better Off Red worked closely with during those years.

Links for this episode:

Music and audio for this episode:

  • The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
  • Stevie Wonder, “They Won’t Go When I Go”
  • Public Enemy, “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”
  • Gil Scott-Heron, “Lady Day And John Coltrane”
  • The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, “Pray For Me”
  • Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

If you like this episode as much as we hope you do, please spread the word to your friends on and offline and consider giving us a review on iTunes so that as many people as possible learn about Kevin Cooper and his case.

As always, if you want to make a financial contribution to help make Better Off Red sustainable, go to

​​Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.

Truthout is widely read among people with lower ­incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.

We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so.

We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?