Schwarzenegger clears way for Tookie Williams’s death

Schwarzenegger denies clemency to convicted killer – Yahoo! News:

“Clemency cases are always difficult and this one is no exception,” Schwarzenegger said. “After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency.”

The guy killed people, yes. But he also wrote books urging kids to turn away from drugs and gangs, leading an anti-gang movement from Death Row. If this isn’t a case where rehabilitation has taken place, what is? Schwarzenegger is acting, not actually talking about deliberations he undertook. As a “social liberal,” this was precisely the kind of case that Schwarzenegger would say justified clemency. As a human being it was a case that justified clemency.

If leaving Tookie Williams in prison for the rest of his life, working to dissuade kids from following his steps to jail, is a bad move, then Schwarzenegger has no good moves to offer.

Author: Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.

10 thoughts on “Schwarzenegger clears way for Tookie Williams’s death”

  1. I agree, however I believe that it is was the fact that Stanley “Tookie” Williams was the founder of the Crips gang that was on trial, and not actually the murders he was convicted of, and even that, was based on suspect evidence at best.

    I’m not to judge whether or not he killed people because I havent seen nor heard the evidence against him, which I hear is very circumstancial at best.

    I believe that Gov. Schwarzenneger based his descision on upsetting his right-wing neo-con base, than on what he knew to be the right thing to do.

  2. The Holy Spirit’s message on The Christian Prophet blog today says that as long as Tookie lives on earth he pays the price for his mistakes, but when no longer living on earth he is totally forgiven and completely thoroughly free.

  3. Prophet—I am not sure what you intend to say with this, in terms of the decision by Schwarzenegger to allow the execution to go forward.

    I certainly don’t want to debate the after-life, but I think if the desire to encourage rehabilitation while maintaining a punishment based on the crimes the man committed the right decision would have been clemency. Williams has clearly decided that living in service to his fellow man is his best way to contribute to society, and what more could we want from a convicted killer.

    Vman—I am anti-death penalty, so it’s repulsive to me to think that political cant influenced Schwarzenegger; you’re right about that, though. I don’t know enough about the killings to say the evidence is circumstantial. But the man’s behavior in prison has been exactly what we look for in a rehabilitated criminal, even if he spends the rest of his life in prison.

    It’s sickening to me that we will all have the blood of a rehabilitated man, let alone the fact that we will have the blood of the 1002nd person executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated, on our hands after tonight.

  4. First of all, I am against the death penalty. I think it is rather hypocritical of a government to outlaw killing and respond to it by killing again. That being said. If Tookie was reformed as you say, why did he not apologize for the crime. A large part of Arnold’s decision was the fact that no apology for the crime was ever given, and without it, clemency could not be provided. I would have to agree. If Tookie was originally guilty of the crimes, he would have to apologize for them before he could be absolved or reformed in my eyes.

    Snoopy

  5. Snoopy—The apology was contingent on Williams’ having admitted his crime, but he went to execution insisting he hadn’t committed the crimes in the first place. As I said above, I don’t know enough about the case evidence to say anything about the man’s guilt or innocence, the question is how he has behaved in the 26 years since then.

    Clemency should be based on actions and the context of those actions. It wasn’t like Williams would have gotten out of prison based on Schwarzenegger’s decision, only that he would have continued the good works he had undertaken.

  6. I agree that the decision to grant clemency should be based on his actions, but are the actions being done, because of the punishment being enforced. Tookie was not an innocent man. He may have been innocent of these crimes but was involved in the gang world and guilty of many crimes. I think the turnaround in behavior may have been a result of being on death row with his own life on the line. Do you believe that if he was originally sentenced to life imprisonment and not the death penalty he would have championed his effort in the same way?

    Snoopy

  7. I don’t know if he was innocent or not, and assume he wasn’t. However, I believe the death penalty is wrong and barbaric. Can we know how the man would have acted if he had not been under threat of death? I think you’re engaging in speculation that simply can’t be answered, though we can know and place a value on Williams’ actions in the breach between life and death. Those actions were valuable—without them, the world would be a slightly worse place. Future actions of the same character are now *missiing* from the world, so we aren’t any better off as a society.

    Would he have done the same thing if he’d been sent to prison for life? If we assume that his actions weren’t just cynically motivated, what else would he have done? Regardless, there’s little question that if he had continued to do his anti-gang work it would have been a good thing.

    Arguing that the death penalty makes good men that we can kill doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  8. I agree with the fact that the death penalty is wrong. You cannot prevent death with more death. Now that being said, I think that Arnold is caught in a bad situation. How do you remain diligent against crime and appear strong, and remove the penalty for the crime? A stay of execution may have been in order to further Tookie’s noble work and the examining of his guilt an adequate excuse if you needed an argument for the stay. The problem I see…we have devious criminals. Sing the song the state needs to hear, and you can reduce or even eliminate your sentence. Where do you draw the line?

    Snoopy

  9. I draw the line at “the death penalty is wrong.” I don’t care if criminals are devious, we shouldn’t kill people. It’s wrong morally and needlessly expensive (we shouldn’t spend millions to kill a person already convicted of a crime that justifies life in prison—and because due process demands we spend that money, let’s get rid of the death penalty rather than diminish the protections of the law) and sometimes applied to innocent people.

  10. I think that the elimination of the death penalty is only the beginning step to an overhaul of the correctional establishment. It is flawed in so many ways. The over crowding and constant revolving door to criminals is a mess. But that is another topic.

    Until the laws are changed, I think that Arnold made the only choice he had under the law. To grant a pardon without an apology in my eyes would have been wrong. If there was enough evidence to warrant a stay to prove his innocence, I am sure Arnold would have allowed it to be seen through.

    Snoopy

Comments are closed.