Many of you are probably unfamiliar with the name Stanley Tookie Wiliams. Mr. Williams is currently incarcerated here in California. He is slated to be executed in a couple of weeks. He is one of the founders of the Crips and was sentenced to death for the murders of four people.
Many people have argued that Williams should be granted clemency. The arguments are based upon a couple basic elements.
1) The claim that Mr. Williams has turned his life around and has been a positive force in helping others to turn their lives around.
2) The claim that he was framed, received unsuitable legal counsel and or was placed in prison due to racial issues.
3) Their opposition to the death penalty based upon principle and not upon a belief that Williams is special. Rather they do not believe that the state should ever be given the authority to execute someone.
My off the cuff response to each point. If we accept the judgement of the court Mr. Williams murdered four people in 1979. For the past 26 years he has done what they could not do, he has lived. How many people miss these four people. How many family and friends were robbed of the opportunity to share their lives and love with them because he murdered them.
Beyond that what do you think the founder of a gang is like. He was not a nice man and he has plenty to answer for aside from the murders he committed.
As for the claims that he was framed I haven’t seen enough evidence to prove that is the case. Jesse Jackson made the specious claims that he might have been convicted because of a dearth of Blacks on the jury. As was pointed out that is a straw man argument and a red herring.
What this really makes me think about is this. There are some things that never leave you, no matter what you do the consequences of these acts follow you forever.
If you murder someone that is something that never goes away. No matter what you do the spectre of that murder will stay with you. Now I can create many scenarios in which one could argue that there were mitigating factors but this is not the kind of situation that lends itself to that.
For example if you got into a bar fight with someone and killed them there might be something there. Let’s say that during the fight you pushed the other person and as a result they stumbled backwards and struck their head on a rock killing them. That could be classified as murder, but what is different here is these murders were committed during robberies and that is significant.
I am not sure that you can do anything to ever square things. You can certainly devote your life to helping people and try hard to make the world a better place, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a murderer.
So the question is, does the state have the moral authority to execute people.