Wednesday, November 30, 2005

T is for Tookie, and good enough for me.

So, after 24 years on death row, the execution date for Stanley "Tookie" Williams is drawing nigh. For those of you who have not followed this story, let me lay it all out for you.

Stanley Williams is one of the co-founders of the Crips. In 1979 he was arrested and sentenced to death for the murder of four individuals during two seperate robberies. After being placed in solitary confinement for six and a half years for assaulting guards and inmates he allegedly reformed and has been studiously working to improve himself. With his execution date on the 13th of December, he has been attempting to get clemency from Gov. Schwarzeneggar. This has stirred up considerable debate amongst people on both sides of the capital punishment divide. Here's the best summary of both sides in the most unbiased way that I can present. (Fear not, there will be plenty of time for bias afterwards.)

Those in favor of granting clemency bring up the following points:
1: Mr. Williams has done a considerable amount of work to try to improve himself while in prison.
2: Mr. Williams has done a considerable amount of work trying to lessen gang violence including writing a series of children's books speaking against gang membership and brokering a peace agreement between the Crips and the Bloods.
3: For his efforts Mr. Williams has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize five times.
4: Mr. Williams has always claimed innocence in the murders and there is a certain amount of doubt as to the fairness of his trial.

Those against argue thus:
1: Mr. Williams has not only left the Crips, but is actually still running the gang from prison.
2: Mr. Williams has not reformed as shown by his unwillingness to divulge information on other gang members or give information on tactics used by gangs.

Frankly wikipedia sums it up better then I did here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tookie but I just wrote that whole damn thing and am not cavalier enough to just delete it out of hand.

As far as I am concerned, this is a stellar example of the flaws of capital punishment. Regardless of what he has done in the past, it appears that Mr. Williams has done more to improve the state of the world then I ever have. If this sort of change is possible, wouldn't it be better to do away with capital punishment? Even discounting the possibility that he is innocent, it seems that we have a responsibility to attempt to make this sort of reformation more common. Those of you out there more eloquent than I ought to take this and repackage it in a sexier, more convincing package! Or you can argue against me, throwing your offalish arguments primate-like against the pristine tower of perfection that is my position. The choice is yours!

P.S. How about that for a clever title? That's +2 in the argument resolution phase!