November 29, 2005

Death on a Tuesday

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 “Is 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.


Laura said...

This is why the death penalty makes no sense. Lawmakers call it justice, but the should call it vengeance. To take the life of another human being is unquestionably wrong. And our laws are set up to prevent you from doing it.

If someone kills a person you know and love, and you later kill them, it's called murder and people go to jail for it. And that's what should happen. The death penalty is state sponsored murder. And what does it do? It doesn't bring back the murder victim, it doesn't truly give closure to families, that only comes with time and acceptance.

Besides the moral issues of state sponsored murder, we know that our justice system is not fool-proof. That innocent people get convicted for crimes they didn't commit. And if you execute even one innocent man, that's far too many. It's hard enough to tell a man who has been in jail 20 years for a crime that he didn't commit that we are sorry for the mistake. How do you tell a family, hey sorry we executed your brother/father/son and it turns out he was innocent?

Tyler said...

I read some things on this guy, and despite writing childeren's books, he's still a bad person.

Tookie refuses to renounce his gang membership and most astonishingly, he won't inform on other gang members who are out there stealing money, raping women and murdering people. He could help save lives, but, you know, the whole gang code is more important to him.

So, kill him, let him stay in prison and rot. Whatever. Just remember, despite positive strides and good behavior the last 10 years, is still a piece of crap.

"A con always will say one thing to you while the whole time he has another agenda."
--San Quentin spokesman

The Craig said...

Tyler the choice isn't between kinlling him or letting him go. Its killing him or life in prison w/ no parole. Is it worth it to kill him/

Tyler said...

Craig, I know. That's why I said "So, kill him, let him stay in prison and rot. Whatever."

I know its not about paroling him. Just thought I'd let people know hes a bad man. There's a lot of people who "reform" themselves in prison, but are still assholes. This guy is one of them.

Needed to make sure everyone know's he is essentially still a gang member (no matter how many kidde books he writes) who's gang he started has committed thousands murders, rapes, robberies and drug crimes.

Yeah, ok, I got off topic, but I gotta keep it real.

But, alright, lets weigh the evidence:

1.Killed 4 people
2.Won't renouce gang member status
3.Won't inform on other gang members
2.Founded gang that's responsible for 10,000 deaths in LA county alone.

1.Preached against gang violence
2.Wrote kids books

Kill him

Laura said... can you weigh decent acts against indecent acts? How can you say these good things he's doing have no value because of the bad things he did?

Perhaps he doesn't renounce his gang status because doesn't want alienate gang members he's trying to reach with his antigang message. Or perhaps he's a genuinely bad guy who wants to still be part of a gang. He's still putting a message out there that gangs violence is wrong, and that it will get you nowhere quick. If even one person is swayed by him, then the good he is doing matters.

See, the media and the government can tell these kids how bad gangs are and it will have no effect. But if Stan Williams says it, then it carries some weight.

He can't hurt people where he is, so the question of good guy or basically bad guy becomes moot. The real question (aside from the one about whether or not it's wrong to kill people) is whether he can potentially do some good. And he can, and he has. So, shouldn't something decent come out of the mess that he made? If he's telling kids that gangs are a bad idea, then he's doing good.

I'm sure he's an asshole. I don't dispute that at all. But we shouldn't be killing people just because they're assholes. If we must execute people, then the question should be, can this person do any good with what's left of his life? And if the answer is yes, then he shouldn't be executed.