The State of California won a decisive round in the name of vengence as Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed today. Though anti-death penalty protesters and supporters of Williams alike all came out in groves, there was no significant impact on the State's decision to procede with the execution. Before this event, I vehemently opposed the death penalty. After further review, I vehemently oppose the death penalty. Why did Stanley Williams need to stay alive? Well, consider the following.
- The death penalty is an inequitable form of punishment, where most of the victims are minorities. Since 1970, 80% of all people executed in state prisons have been minorities (largely Black and Hispanic).
- DNA is a monster these days. I mean, with one strand of hair you can learn just about anything about a person; his blood type, his size or his favorite television show. With this breakthrough, hundreds of death sentences have been overturned.
- Jeffrey Dahmer (you know...the not-so-purple, people eater) killed and ate 16 people. For his troubles, he was only sentenced to life in prison. It was only at the hands of another inmate that Dahmer was executed. Likewise, famed serial killer Charles Manson had his sentence commuted from death to life in prison by, you guessed it, the California Supreme Court. Hmmm...
- The Tookie Williams who was executed last night was NOT the same vicious, insidious Tookie Williams from 26 years ago. Many pro-death folks are out trying to vilify him for things that he did YEARS ago. In doing so, they discount (or dismiss altogether) the work that he's done since. To that end, I've got another question: Even if he was guilty of those crimes, why not execute him at that point? Why wait until over two decades later, after he's clearly become a much better person, to carry out the execution?!
- Although people are quick REFER to the case 26 years ago, how many of them are as willing to REOPEN the case from 26 years ago -- especially given all the recanted statements from "witnesses", all the circumstantial evidence, and the non-admission of guilt that Tookie has always maintained?!
- The GUV-EE-NA kept questioning how Tookie could be 'redeemed' if he didn't apologize. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't an apology the same as admitting guilt? Tookie's 'redemption' was from his gang life; not necessarily from those four murders. If he maintains his innocence to those killings, why would he apologize for committing them?
- The death penalty (before and after Tookie) is an archaic, barbaric procedure that acts in a way completely opposite of the purpose of correctional facilities. Correctional facilities punish for the purpose of rehabilitating. The death penalty punishes by terminating.
I take solice in knowing that Tookie's execution happened because God allowed it to. The fact is: whether Tookie was executed or not, his time on this Earth (as is ours) was limited. Nevertheless, he used his time effectively. He's done about as much outreach work for young people while incarcerated than most people do in their lives as free citizens. Just as the apostle Paul continued to do God's work while imprisioned or narrowly escaping the jaws of death, Tookie was able to use his time on death row effectively. But eventually, God allowed for his time to end, just like Paul, Peter, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, etc.
This still doesn't dismiss the fact that I harbor ill feelings about the death penalty. For a nation who boasts about civility, it would be good if our rules, norms, and punishments also fit that label.