"Tookie" Williams' life of regret
The execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, convicted killer of four and Crips gang co-founder, ought not be the match thrown on the fiery...
The execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, convicted killer of four and Crips gang co-founder, ought not be the match thrown on the fiery debate over the death penalty.
This page has been for the death penalty, because we believe that the most-heinous crimes deserve the ultimate punishment.
If Williams is Exhibit A for any argument, let it be in support of the careful application of the death penalty. This man was executed, but not before decades of deliberate and thorough analysis of his case.
Williams is not a martyr. He was convicted of the 1979 murders of four people in two separate robberies. He used a sawed-off shotgun to kill his victims, despite two being so elderly that the use of lethal force was as gratuitous as it was cruel.
From 1981 to early Tuesday, Williams waged a battle from death row to prove his innocence — and when state and federal courts were unmoved, he switched to a claim of redemption.
The Hollywood glitterati, including actors Jamie Foxx, Sean Penn and Danny Glover, waged a public-relations crusade to keep Williams alive. Such star power could be better used in the battle to free gang-ridden neighborhoods of the wanton crime that turns a walk to school into a life-or-death proposition.
Williams aside, a national debate over the death penalty is a good thing. If it is to remain an option of the justice system, we must find ways to ensure its fair application.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan emptied his state's death row after information, including DNA evidence, revealed that some of those sentenced to death were innocent, and raised strong suspicions about fairness in the other cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed its long-standing position on the constitutionality of executing 16- and 17-year-olds. These are reforms that, coupled with the lengthy appeals process embedded in the law, make the death penalty an acceptable, if rare, option.
In 2004, 59 inmates nationwide were executed, six fewer than in 2003.
Compelling arguments can be made for penal reform. We can find no convincing argument, however, that the system is made any more fair by taking the death penalty out of it.
Coming full circle to Williams, the law was followed to the T. The Fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution affirm that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Stanley "Tookie" Williams had 25 years of due process.
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