Anti-Death Penalty Season is Here

Today Governor Schwarzenegger said, "After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency" (AP article) for Stan "Tookie" Williams. How much more NOT in a holiday mood could we be? Love, forgiveness, and recognizing that people can change enough to deserve life in prison instead of legalized murder...is that SO hard?

For Mr. Williams, I don't know if he's innocent or guilty. I do have evidence of his trying to do good in the world, though others may decide he is insincere. I know that if you can spend most of your adult life atoning working to right grievous wrongs (and Williams claims not to have committed the murders of which he is accused), and you even get nominated for a Nobel peace prize...when the hell else IS clemency warranted?

Why don't we, as a culture, believe in penance, let alone forgiveness? There is public discourse about lack of faith in the fairness of our legal system -- entrenched racism for example, that results in a black man actually confessing to the murder of a pregnant white woman when it turns out her white husband was actually her killer. There is DNA evidence that now clears convicted "criminals" after they are legally murdered. Yet, while this kind of questioning and critical thinking is going on, Mr. Schwarzenegger, the President, and many many in this country still think the death penalty "works," is merited, and that clemency is for sissies.

With this in mind, I'd like to ask the handful of people who might read this to spend some of the last hours of "Tookie" Williams' life (or after he is gone...only a few hours from the moment I'm typing these words) by visiting some anti-death penalty sites and really thinking this thing through. And if you still approve the death penalty? Think it through until you change your mind.


Stop the Execution of Stan Tookie Williams Blog

Abolitionist Action Committee

Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Death Penalty Focus

Death Penalty Information Center

More links...


Kate said...

I don't believe in the death penalty. Forgetting all the critical thinking arguements, I just haven't ever seen the point to it. It doesn't return life. The man who ran over my dad with his boat and killed him, even he I would not wish dead. I would rather he live every day of his life knowing he took a life.
What makes me most angry about the current line of thinking in this world are those who spout shit about "culture of life" when they try to keep a brain damaged woman alive against her stated wishes, or force women to have a child against hers, but are all to willing to put a needle into the arm of some unfortunate soul who has no resourses to a fair and just trial, competant representation or who just happened to be a timely scapgoat. The hypocrisy is a crime against humanity, a joke in the light of the preaching they do.
I may think someone deserves to die, but my heart says I have no right to make it so. And that only makes me human, to want vengence, but it is not my place, or my right. The death penalty is an abomination.

Anonymous said...

this too is a part of our culture:
lets give credit where it's due.

Mr. Williams did not earn a Nobel peace prize nom. - it was a publicity stunt. Like his latest tactic, working with a journalist to publish alleged "anti-gang books" it discredits the anti capital punishment movement.

He was not brain damaged when he faught with the defense of brain damage.

His "apology" sounds more like a bio or a promo for his business dealings:

It seems he has not apologized for the murders he was sentenced for (though there were many more he was not sentenced for) because he wants to be free or killed on death row- rather than experience life in prison....

I recently heard hundreds of folks from his old neighborhood speak of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome due to "Tookie" related experiences...I see miles of bars on windows and know most people do not want him living in their neighborhood. I heard mother after mother after grandmother speak of the drivebys and the deaths of innocent children thanks to Tookies influence. A woman witnessed a beating to near death at the hands of Tookie and 2 of his "comrades" when she was a child. She was afraid to walk down her street. I listened as several drug addicts in various stages of addiction and recovery spoke of the slavery they've experienced due to Tookies greedy dealings...I've never met a child who said he was deterred from gang involvement because of Tookies books. has anyone? He came out of solitary confinement after inciting riots in the prison allegedy enlightened....hmmm...sounds like an endorsement for solitary confinement at best.

Yes, the justice system is terribly corrupt and racist. Yes, there is plenty of good evidence that the death penalty is not useful.
No, Tookie did not do the cause much good.
People who were on the fence about it are more for Capital Punishment now than ever.

to the argument that Tookie had no choice having been brought up where and when he was...tell it to the bus drivers, the comedians, the musicians, postal carriers, social workers, teachers, artist from that same neighborhood.

living with better choices in L.A.

Stavner said...

I don't think we'll ever get rid of the death penalty, no matter how unfair, because people get so outraged by certain crimes, they demand death. Tookie is a particular problem, because he founded one of the world's worst street gangs.