December 12, 2005

The Death Penalty and Tookie Williams

Personally I'm rather conflicted about this issue. I know he's slotted to be euthanized in about an hour, but I'm not 100% sure about weather I feel he should be getting the death penalty.

By the letter of the law he is absolutely guilty. There is little to no doubt that he committed the crimes everyone says he committed. He was found guilty by a jury of his peers and sentenced to death by lethal injection. He never admitted his guilt, gave an apology or asked for redemption. He only asked to be pardoned and defends his innocence despite a quantity of evidence. I can't even fault the Governator for his decision. There was no legal recourse that would have kept him from the death chamber.

There is a part of this other than the mere letter of the law though. There is a part of this that brings us past the written words and pushes us towards logic. The logic I'm pushed towards deals with the purpose of the death penalty. From what I remember, the death penalty was not intended as a deterrent for future criminals that may chose to commit similar crimes. It was not intended as a penalty for doing something really, really bad. It was intended as a last recourse for someone that is so far beyond a peaceful society that even his fellow inmates are in danger from him.

Following this logic you have to ask yourself, "Was Tookie Williams a danger not only to society, but to his fellow inmates as well?" I do not know if anyone dealing with this case has made the same assertions towards this particular logic that I have, but I'd be willing to guess that most have not made their decisions based on this concept. Today law is not meant to be interpreted. It is to be followed like an instruction manual. To do otherwise turns you into a political activist for whatever party it appears is in favor of your decision. You become a political scapegoat for judging on logic instead of the letters. You become a victim of fear.

Now, what do I believe would be the right decision in this case? I can not make a judgment in this case. I know of his supposed efforts to save youths from joining gangs, but I also hear the reports that he refused on several occasions to turn state's evidence and still other reports of violence from him while he was in prison. I'm sure the political spin doctors have done a good number on this from both sides of the fence. They always do. However, since I do not have access to the court documents or prison reports I can make no personal decision in this particular case. I can only wish his soul god speed and pray the people do not riot and senselessly kill others.

Posted by aakaakaak at December 12, 2005 10:58 PM | TrackBack

It is my understanding, via TV News reports earlier today, that *Tookie* has spent approx 3 of the last 24 years in solitary confinement due to acts of violence that HE committed against his fellow inmates...

He is a violent and dangerous person...

Perhaps he has redeemed himself in the eyes of the American *left* but none the less, he HAS been convicted and sentenced to DEATH, and tonight, that sentence will be carried out...

Shortly after midnight, California time, he can answer to God for his crimes...

Posted by: TexasFred at December 12, 2005 11:48 PM

To play devils advocate you could submit that many of those years in solitary were spent doing what he could to "save young lives subjected to gangs", wrote newarly 10 children's books and signed off on a movie about his life that highlighted just how bad gang violence really was.

I am not convinced either way. All I know is that a convicted murderer will be put to death in accordance with the laws of California.

Posted by: Jeremy H. Bol at December 13, 2005 12:24 AM

Okay, maybe I'm a hard a**, but I wonder why the government had to support his sorry butt for 24 years. What's up with that? I always thought the death penalty was for people whose crimes were so henious they just didn't deserve to live.

The guys have been watching a lot of old westerns lately, so I may have a touch of "Cowboy Brain", but I've always been in favor of the death penalty. I have to confess that I actually think it should be used more often. Now please don't throw rocks at me. I'm just saying what I think, not what you should think. :-)

Posted by: Patty-Jo at December 13, 2005 03:12 AM

I don't think the death penalty is a good thing anymore. I've only just changed my mind in the past few days about this too. I can't spew out my feelings against abortion, euthanasia and those things being wrong yet support the death penalty.
Its a hard thing to change my mind about too...because some of these crimes are really really BAD. Let God do the punishments.

Posted by: Raven at December 13, 2005 09:33 AM

"you have to ask if Tookie Williams was a danger.."

Let's see...he spent three years in solitary for posing a danger to guards and fellow inmates, he engineered an escape plan that involved killing the gueards transporting him to court, and a fellow prisoner that could testify against him. (the plot was discovered and forstalled, but it still serves to show his mentality) He has NEVER admitted guilt or's been alleged that he had ordered gang hits from his cell... YEP! I'd say he qaulified as a "danger".

As far as his much-vaunted children's books...he's sold a grand total of *drum roll*
300 copies! now consider..even IF (BIG if!) every single one of those copies resulted in one child turning his back on joining a gang; look at the other side of the ledger and count the, at the least hundreds (and maybe thousands) of children killed or otherwise devistated by the actions of the Crips, the gang he co-founded, and I don't believe that that argument carries much weight.

Raven, I don't see any dichotomy in supporting the death penalty and being anti-abortion. The one is the result of the free choice of the subject, the other is just plain murder for convenience. Euthanasia can be correct in some instances, but it makes for a lousy social policy as a standard practice (slippery slope and all that).

Posted by: delftsman3 at December 14, 2005 12:27 AM

This is a hot issue! I would rather there never had to be any kind of killing, murder or otherwise. However since we are not living in the land of glory yet, we have wickedness all around us. Murder is wrong. We cannot survive in a world where it is tolerated, This is why our brave troops are in Iraq right now. I don't see that we have a choice in the matter. I agree with Patty-Jo that the tax payers money should not be supporting murders for years on end.
There was far too much evidence against Tookie to ignore. The man did horrible things. I would not want to think he might have been released from prison ever.

Posted by: Mountain Mama at December 14, 2005 01:28 AM

It is interesting that people assume that Willams was seeking release. What he was seeking was an opportunity to avoid the chamber of death. He did not understand that his work to prevent gang violence, his ongoing support of gang-youth, did not matter to us and that we needed him to be killed because he was a bad guy. Search the hx and try to accept reality. Williams had not been violent for years since he decided to redeem his life. He was working to improve the life of all Americans.... but all Americans just wanted to see him fry.

Posted by: Brian Vanderlip at December 15, 2005 02:17 AM

There seems to be a miss conception about penalties for crime and in particularly, the death penalty. Civil punishment has but one purpose and that is to PUNISH the offender, not rehabilitate or send messages to others but, punish. When the penal system tried to make that transition in the late 1800s and early 1900s we began to muddy the waters. By the way, the Old Testiment and the Ten Commandments said "Thou Shall Not Murder." The shall not KILL thing came much later.

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