Not to bring down the mood, but Ohio just executed the 999th person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. The 1000th should happen this week.
Also, Stan "Tookie" Williams has been in the news a lot, as the Governator considers granting one of the founders of the Crips street gang clemency. Tookie stands convicted of four murders, but has turned it around in prison, working against gangs, writing childrens books and generally making himself more useful to society alive than dead.
So the question is: what is the death penalty for? If it about deterrence, Williams shouldn't die, because then the message that we send is turn your life around and die anyway. If it's about closure, by which we really mean revenge, then Williams needs to die. Four people are dead, they have families, and the families need Williams to die. We always overpersonalize crime in this country. Its not the families of the dead vs the accused, its society vs the accused. So the real question should be ÂIs society better off with Stan Williams dead or alive, not will some victims feel better with him dead. I think a pretty good case has been made that we are better off, as a society, with Williams alive.
So now it's up to society, in the form of a bodybuilder turned actor turned Governor to decide if this man lives or dies.
MORE: Slate has a really interesting story up. It appears that there is very clear evidence that Texas executed an innocent man. That fact alone should bring the death penalty to a screeching halt. The article also makes the point that the death penalty is extremely expensive. New Jersey has spent 250 million dollars on its death penalty system and hasn't managed to kill anyone. Personally, I think this is the best way to implement the death penalty. Give out death sentences, the families get "closure" but then make the process so hard and expensive that no one ever gets killed. The real problem with the Texas death penalty is that it’s relatively easy to kill people. Give me the New Jersey (and Californian) system. Lots of closure, no wrongful executions.