Thursday, December 8

Who Decides? A Test For Governor Schwarzenegger

Who Decides? Should "Tookie" Williams Be Spared?

The news reports this morning that Governor Schwarzenegger has agreed to meet with representatives from both sides of the issue of whether or not Stanley "Tookie" Williams should have his death sentence commuted to life in prison.

The arguments on the side of sparing his life include:
  1. The death penalty is wrong no matter what, besides there are innocent people on death row.
  2. Stanley didn't receive a fair trial because the only black jurors on his jury were removed.
  3. He is no longer the man he was, has seen the error of his ways regarding gang life, and is now a rehabilitated man. "Regardless of what you think of his conviction, he has done some remarkable work. He knows what attracts kids to gangs . . . and he has dedicated himself to letting people know there's an alternative."
  4. He has written children's books.
  5. He was nominated for a Nobel peace prize.
  6. He is innocent.
  7. He apologized.

Let's take these one at a time.

1. The death penalty is wrong no matter what, and innocent people are on death row.

The debate over the death penalty is not going to be resolved in this short period of time. The fact that there have been a significant number of individuals on death row found to be innocent of the charges does merit re-investigation in some cases where evidence was circumstantial, but that is not the case in the matter of the People of California verse Stanley Williams. The evidence against him was overwhelming and timelines of his life leading up to his conviction can be found on the web.

The Crimes of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams

Stanley Tookie Williams, Could be First Gang Member Executed in California

2. Stanley didn't receive a fair trial because the only black jurors are on his jury were removed.

Okay this one is just absurd. He's not guilty of being black, he's guilty of murdering four people, and indirectly guilty of all the murders committed over the entire bloody history of the gang he helped to create and operate. Besides, the fact that no black jurors were on his trial don't negate the facts of the case.

3. He's no longer the man he was, has seen the error of his ways regarding gang life, and is now a rehabilitate man.

I'm remembering Karla Faye Tucker. She brutally murdered two people with an axe. She was on drugs and drunk at the time of the murder. Her past was one of a troubled upbringing which led her to drugs and drinking and associations with "the wrong crowd," but none of this excused what she did with her then boyfriend. After being convicted, she got off drugs, became a born-again Christian, and led a model life in prison helping other women who were incarcerated. A petition for clemency was made on her behalf by anti-death penalty groups, her pastor, and others, but the Governor of Texas (George Bush) said that the courts had done their jobs and no clemency would be given.

Is Stanley's life worth more than hers?
Is Stanley's life worth more than his victims?

Is his life worth more because he's black bit Karla was only a white woman? Karla was the first woman to be put to death in the United States since 1984. She had redeemed her life just as "Tookie" did, but she didn't leave a legacy of crime and violence behind her in her wake. Tookie may be the first gang member in California to be put to death, but what about all the victims of his crimes and of the crips? When do they get a reprieve?

4. He has written children's books.


5. He's been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

So was Arafat. It didn't change who he was either. The nomination says more about the prize committee than it does Tookie.

6. He is innocent.

Already covered this.

Time line of his crimes and prosecution

7. He apologized.

That's good, he needed to apologize, but that isn't enough and it doesn't erase the consequences.

When we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, when we repent and move from our sin, the LORD is faithful to forgive us, but He doesn't always remove the consequences of our actions (sin) from our lives.

I can't help but wonder what the family members of the victims must think about this dust up of support and all the gnashing of teeth over a murdering criminal being made to pay the penalty for his actions. They live every day with the pain of their loss, but no one seems to be concerned about them. What of the lives the victims might have led? What great things were they prevented from doing because "Tookie" decided his needs and wants were more important than their lives?

And what did "Tookie" need and want? Why did he commit these murders? Williams said he "didn't want to leave any witnesses." Williams also said he killed Owens "because he was white and he was killing all white people." Guess that says it all, doesn't it.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Crips cofounder West Side Crips (1971)
Murder 7-Eleven clerk Albert Lewis Owens, Pico Rivera, CA (28-Feb-1979), convicted 1981
Murder Tsai-Shai Yang, Los Angeles, CA (11-Mar-1979), convicted 1981
Murder Yen-I Yang, Los Angeles, CA (11-Mar-1979), convicted 1981
Murder Yee Chen Lin, Los Angeles, CA (11-Mar-1979), convicted 1981

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