So Stanley “Tookie” Williams finally met his Maker early this morning? Depending on which side of the ideological fence you happen to occupy, this was either a HUGE miscarriage of justice or about damn time. From where I sit, Williams’ case was everything that is wrong with the way the death penalty is administered in this country.
Let’s assume for our purposes that Williams is in fact guilty of the murder he was accused of. After all, he was convicted, no? If Williams was convicted, which he was, then why was he allowed to linger on death row for 25 years prior to his execution? In those 25 years, Williams has clearly become a person much different than the one who originally entered San Quentin. But does the fact that Williams seems to have renounced gang life and has written and spoken extensively against that lifestyle mitigate the four murders he was convicted of? Does all the good that Williams has done justify clemency?
I don’t pretend to have the answers to those questions, because they depend so much on ideology and politics. One thing I do know, however, is that IF the State of California meant to execute Williams, his case should NEVER have dragged out for 25 years. All the intervening years did was to further complicate the debate over the morality and effectiveness of Williams’ execution.
Is anyone in California safer because Williams is dead? Has the cause of justice been served? Does “doing the right” thing mean dragging out a death sentence for 25 years? Can a death penalty case be decided without politics playing a role? I wish I knew. No one can argue that the case of “Tookie” Williams was handled well- by anyone.
At least Governor Schwarzenegger no longer has to worry about losing GOP support over this issue. Of course, that this was even a consideration can, and should be, an effective argument against the death penalty. An individual’s life- even a convicted multiple murderer- should never become the equivalent of a political football.
Yes, indeed…the sad, sorry saga of “Tookie” Williams is everything that is wrong with the death penalty in this country.