Y'know - he's rehabilitated. Which I thought, to some degree, was part of what we expected from our prisons.
In 21 hours, Tookie will be executed.
I live in California. Apparently, not a single case of clemency has been granted in California in my lifetime. (That's 37 years.) That's a long time to assume that every single death sentence was delivered fairly, justly, and without hitch.
I oppose the death penalty. In all cases. For me, it's a matter of morality, religious faith, combined with an overall inability to completely trust 12 strangers to come to a valid decision in regards to the life of another human being. In addition, I have this overriding practical concern - you can't undo it. You can't make amends if you accidentally execute someone. If we throw someone in jail, sure, we can't give them their years back, but we (our society) can make up for it in other ways.
This case in particular disturbs me. It's one of a handful that makes me doubt the intelligence of the juries, and of the legitimacy of the American courts. (Another big one for me is the West Memphis 3 (info here)) And, most importantly, what is our goal?
Vengeance? I don't want vengeance, and I really hope most Americans don't. I want Justice. Tookie Williams is now justice - he created one of the worst street gangs in recent history, and now he works against them. He's been nominated for the nobel peace prize multiple times (and it would be a stain on the flag if he wins this year, only to have to tell the world community that "Sorry - the prize winner can't accept the prize because we killed him.")
I understand people get upset. Knock on wood, I've never lost a family member to violent crime. And I honestly can't say how I would react if I had.
On the other hand, no one is (yet) saying to let Tookie go free. (Okay, people probably are - but that's not what the push is for at this point in time.) Clemency just means that the state will not end his life.
This is wrong. And I wish I knew how to stop it - beyond what I've done so far.
In 19 hours or so, I may be at San Quentin, protesting this murder. I can't stop it, but I can add my voices to the rising crowd that is saying "This is wrong." Maybe we'll be heard.
It surprises me that a conservative republican governor in the midwest (George Ryan, IL) can see that the whole process is wrong, broken, flawed, and horrible, and in a state that is supposedly enlightened (like California) we can't seem to get people to understand that this is wrong.