I'm not going to weigh in heavily on the case of Tookie Williams. Lots of folks on the left seem all worked up over granting this guy clemency. He is less than twelve hours from being executed, and for some reason is getting the full special Hollywood and media treatment. Why?
If you are opposed to the death penalty, I guess there is cause for concern and you should speak up. What I do not understand is why this guy has become a cause célébre for mercy.
There are actually people on death row who deserve to be defended and have their cases publicized. Tookie Williams is not one of them.
Now, I should point out, I am not particularly familiar with the details of this case, but nothing I've read over the last week has given me any reason to: a) doubt his guilt, or b) believe he deserves clemency. Tookie's a bad guy, convicted of four brutal murders, scheduled to meet a fitting end.
But here's where I really go off the liberal rails. I have no problem with the death penalty.
In theory, and for certain cirumstances. Period. It doesn't mean I am a "hang 'em high" gung-ho advocate, but I don't have a problem with executing those guilty of heinous crimes. I realize that gets me in some shit with some of my readers (I am looking across the street) but that's the truth. If I have a problem, it's with the implementation of the death penalty, and the chance that the wrong person might be executed, but not with the punishment itself.
As for Tookie Williams, his supporters claim he is "redeemed." That he might be doing good work with his writing against gangs. Fine. But he still was convicted of,
I often question whether it is "civilized" for me to think this way, but ultimately, it's not hard for me to think in terms of whether or not a person deserves to be executed or not. If the crime is bad enough, the circumstances are clear enough, and an incredibly high standard regarding that person's guilt is met, I've got no problem with the ultimate punishment.
All of that said, I support a moratorium on all executions in this country to address the complete fiasco that is the legal system in regards to capital cases and the unfair implementation of the death penalty. I would rather never have another horrible murderer executed than have a single innocent person put to death.
So count me as FOR the death penalty, but even more FOR things like the Innocence Project.
UPDATE: orf at The "Oh, Really Factor" has a much more thoughtful and well-written (than mine) post up on the death penalty here. After some consideration she opposes it. That's cool for her. Many people I hold a lot of respect for opppose the death penalty. And it is a position I can respect as well.
I don't reallly feel like I've put forward much of a compelling argument in my post, I'm not feeling very articulate today, I'm a bit distracted, but I thought I'd get my opinion out there while the topic was hot.
I also want to note, that I completely agree with Virginia governor Mark Warner commuting the death sentence of an inmate a week or so ago. (Where was the Hollywood outrage over that one? This was a guy where genuine questions about his guilt were raised, and Warner quietly commuted his sentence without enduring any pressure that I was aware of.)
UPDATE 2: Thanks to John Cole for the link. I wish it was to a piece I actually felt was well-written and less thrown together, but beggars can't be choosers... I should also acknowledge that John turned me onto a case that really is an outrage this morning. The case of Cory Maye. I have been following up and compiling a lot of links on this and will post a thread on it later. It deserves more effort than Tookie. Follow the links in John's piece for the story.
Steve Gilliard, a vocal opponent of the death penalty, can't work up any sympathy for Tookie either.
UPDATE 3: Angry Bear links to some interesting facts on deterrence here. The statistics cited here indicate that the death penalty is NOT an effective deterrent. That is probably true to a large degree, since many, if not most, murders are crimes of more passion and desperation than not. I find it difficult to believe that it is not a deterrent in the case of planning a crime where decisions ahead of time can impact the outcome (ie: a bank robbery or something). If you are planning a criminal endeavor and you can be confident that you will recieve a capital sentence if you kill someone during the commission of your crime, you might adjust your plans accordingly (maybe that is my non-criminal mind making that assumption, but it seems sensible to me). Also undermining these findings in my opinion is the fact that in many states the chance of you actually getting executed are pretty slim. It took almost thirty years for Tookie...
Kevin Drum chimes in on Tookie and then segues over to Cory Maye. Good. This case needs publicity big time. See also CORY SI, TOOKIE NO by Max, who then really hears it from his readers.