Tuesday, December 13, 2005 | By: Dusty Taylor

The Death Penalty..wrong or justified?

With the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams tonight, I pondered my belief in the Death Penalty..do I still believe it is justified?

Tookie was nominated for 6 Nobel Peace Prizes. Should this spare him from dying for the deaths of 4 people killed in cold blood? He says he was innocent of those murders and would like to prove his innocence. The man has had 25 years to prove his innocence. He was convicted by an all white jury during a time when railroading black men into prison was the norm. Since Tookie was a co-founder of the "Crips" does the possiblity exist that he ordered other people murdered or took part in heinous crimes that he was never charged with? Should he be given life in prison when his victims got nothing more than two shotgun blasts to the back of their bodies?

People that I wanted to see executed never will be: Sirhan for Bobby Kennedys death, the killer of John Lennon, child rapists and murderers for example. I am ambiguous about Tookie. I think perhaps he should of been commuted to life since there was no physical or eyewitness evidence to connect him to these brutal murders. I think that if there is no physical or eyewitness evidence that no one should be put to death. This reasoning has evolved for me over the years since DNA has become prevalent in prooving guilt or innocence. The bibles bs about an eye for an eye doesn't have any bearing on my thought process. I fear that a truely innocent person might be put to death. Is a life in prison better than killing them? Personally I would rather be executed than spend my life in prison. I HATE when an obvious murderer can cop a plea and get out of execution, to me thats wrong in so many ways, those are the assholes that deserve to die..and not by the Politically Correct method of lethal injection, make them suffer as their victims did. Is that barbaric of me?

But Tookie didnt cop a plea, he never admitted guilt to these 4 murders. He changed his life for the good of society by writing many books denouncing gangs and the lifestyle. Some folks think that finding jailhouse "religion" is just a way to attempt to beat the system, that people still need to pay for their crimes. Tookie still hung with the gangbangers in prison, was his change sincere? In the end, does it really matter what he did after he was sent to prison? IF he really didnt kill those four innocent people, did he do other heinous crimes that justifed his death?

I woke up around 12:30, about the time he was drawing his final breath. I looked at the clock and thought of him, getting up to check to see if they had indeed killed this man. They did of course. It wasn't a smooth execution either according to the press that watched it. They couldnt find a vein in his muscle-bound arm. He offered to find it for them.

Is it time to end the death penalty? I dont know...but I will ponder it here in the darkness of my room.

12 people gave us their .02 cents:

FantasticAlice said...

Boy that is a tough one.

I believe in the death penalty, but like all things I believe in there are the occasional times my judgement faulters. In this case does a zebra change its stripes. The nobel peace prizes came after the the murders. Then you have the problem with, he didn't commit the murders he may have ordered them. (like Charles Manson-who I think is wrongly imprisoned because he never committed the murders... he ordered them, he just needs to be in a maximum security nut-house).

I think I will come back later to argue points with people later.

What about people with mental retardation? Like Lenny from Of Mice and Men?

Bruce said...

I don't know enough about the late Mr. Williams to have formed an opinion on him, although I have always believed in the death penalty, and always will. That said, in some cases, such as Susan Smith, life w/o parole is a more fitting punishment. I'm with you though, Boo, on Sirhan and Chapman.

dusty said...

The more I live, the less I believe in some things and the death penalty is one of them. I presented both sides of the arguement pretty well and I still have no idea on this specific case. I lean towards the death penalty in this case..but I also see the other side very clearly.

There is NEVER a reason to execute the mentally ill. NEVER FUCKING EVER. I know the insanity plea is abused, but people with bonafide mental illness such as post partum depression, bipolars, PTSD(post tramatic stress disorder)or as Alice says retardation and the like should be treated, not killed. My belief in this is rigid and will never change.

Its too sad that Tookie was evidently a very intelligent individual and this wasn't discovered when he was a child and nurtured.Thats because he was a black person. He was born during the height of the racists grip on people of color. He was 51 which makes him my age.

Thomcat said...

i am on the fence on this one ... but, i guess arnold is and always will be, the terminator.

(insert groan here)

FantasticAlice said...

Don't quote me on this Dusty, but during one of my neurosciences classes we were discussing behavior vs. genetics... apparently there is a larger percentage of people with mental disabilities on death row than "normal" persons.

Just to get hour hackles raised.

With hindsight being what it is, if he was to have been given a good enviorment and stable education and family (besides racial intolerance and bigotory) he could of been really something.

Anonymous said...

The main question in the execution of Tookie Williams is not whether he took part in the 1979 murders. He himself removed this from the equation by both consistently denying his conviction, and stressing his co-founding of the Crips, and subsequent recantation of gang violence.

The question is not, either, whether the people who were murdered are now avenged. The law is not a tool of vengeance, and should any party in the process have used it as so, they are guilty, under law, of murder. On this point, the question at issue should be whether Tookie Williams was guilty of the murders, and whether capital punishment properly settled any resulting debt he had to society under the law.

Is this case a question of race? It is true that African-Americans continue to suffer gross social injustice at the hands of the white majority, and that legal persecution of black people is still a cancer on the face of American society. The entire way Tookie's story was fed to the public was spooned out with such arrogance and gross characterisations, it is hard to imagine there not being a racial factor.

In one online CNN article, a "professor emeritus" who specialises in gang violence, was supposed to be challenging Tookie's claim to have co-founded the Crips. The article mostly explains how Hispanic gangs formed in Los Angeles around the turn of the 20th century, and black gangs formed in the 1930s. Then, after World War II, blacks migrated to LA in large numbers.

Starting with an alleged murderer, who was a child when World War II ended, the article quoting the "professor emeritus" drags the entire migrant community into the picture, characterising them as an uncivilised group of gangland killers. Brief mention is made that the migration of blacks to California during World War II was largely due to the government drafting them, and sending them there, but it fails to commend their their answer to the patriotic call.

The article also fails to mention that the government poured crack into black neighbourhoods to undermine gains made by the black community during the 1960s and 1970s, as well as fund America's quest to supply their enemy Iran with better guns. No single act should be more clear as to how much the establishment wants black America to fail.

Their worst enemy at the time, who had embarrassed the American government before the entire world, who had taken good white American citizens hostage, who harmed the nation, these people would be bargained with and accomodated militarily, at the expense of black America.

Tookie Williams may or may not have co-founded the Crips gang, but he was not convicted of criminal association. Again, the question should be whether he killed the people he was convicted of killing. Unfortunately, the essence of capital punishment--as the nation's ultimate receipt of the deepest form of debt--is an American issue. This means it has been sucked dry by pundits, politicians, the media and lawyers. Always lawyers.

Just face it, there is no justice. In America, there is gain, there is loss, and there is the paper it is written on. In it all, African-Americans are just a slightly more expendable demographic, upon whose backs those who start wars for their own personal profit steal their billions.

dusty said...

Nothing proved your point more than the debacle in New Orleans after Katrina doc. YES, its a red state but filled with the poor and the black, who offer very little to Repubs other than becoming military personnel as you mentioned. They couldnt fill the Repubs coffers with cash or very seldom vote for the Repubs main cause..BIG business.

You can espouse all you want the true meaning of what Tookie was imprisioned for, the bottom line is this..he was railroaded by an all white jury that had NO hard, physical evidence. They imprisioned him for what he was, a gang leader, not for what he did.

Alice, the fact that the majority of people in prison suffer from some level of mental illness is not new but it is disgustingly...the truth.They are either sick or people of color..neither of which should be held against them...but it is.

Queen of Ass said...

In Texas, we of course have the death penalty. And honestly? I know some are innocent, and many more are guilty. I know we can't continue to pay for everybody all the time. But at the same time, I thank my lucky stars I'm not the one inserting the needle.I don't think I could live with that guilt.

dusty said...

Texas also has no qualms with executing those with mental illness. The Supreme Court just recently upheld their right to do so. Like I said for those truely guilty, I have no problem with the death penalty as long as they were sane and ample evidence supported their guilt. Its those that we just arent sure about...that are hard to swallow.

John Q. Public esq. said...


and I love to talk about it to the pro-lifers....

as for cost, gee.... lets take 25% of the funds used to take care of those in prisons, and use it to address the issuse that put them there in the first place, jobs, drug treatment, mental health,

oh, it helps that I just spent the AM in a prison....


Boolean Wombat said...

tookie certainly wasn't an angel, but keeping him alive served the greater good by helping to get kids out of gangs. dead, he can't do that.

death penalty defenders state that tookie needed to pay for his crimes no matter how many nobel nominations he got, but what is killing a man for crimes committed other than revenge? we already know that it isn't a deterrent.

we can do better than putting people to death (none of the wealthy democrocies have the death penalty other than us), especially when legal irregularities plague every state that has a death penalty.

J said...

Well-stated, Dusty, yet my reading of summaries of the court record lead me to believe the jury was correct in finding Williams guilty. Some of his own family members and friends testified against him. And if he was not the actual triggerman, he refused to say who was.

You are correct that DNA evidence offer a more effective method of determining guilt, and there is always a possibility that a person wrongfully convicted might be executed (which DNA evidence will hopefully prevent), but Williams' guilt was not nearly as ambigiuous as some of the celebrity whiners made it out to be.