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