Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Late and Unlamented 

Early this morning, Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed by the State of California. Williams had been condemned to death for four murders committed in 1979. He was convicted in 1981. In the 24 intervening years, his appeals at all levels were consistently rejected by state and federal courts, including both the ultraliberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. After a final motion for stay of execution was rejected yesterday by the 9th Circuit, California governor Schwarzenegger denied clemency, noting that Williams had never admitted committing the murders nor had he ever demonstrated any remorse for his deeds. In his wrtten remarks, Schwarzenegger said, "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."

Frankly, I'm glad that society will never have to deal with Tookie again. The man was, in my judgment, an unrepentant monster who deserved to die.

Williams had become the darling of Hollywood's loony left, who campaigned on his behalf until the very end, and beyond. They comprised a mix of anti-death penalty activists (most of whom, for reasons known only to themselves, are pro-abortion) and classical "bleeding hearts" for whom Williams was the cause du jour. Predictably, these folks turned the last few days outside the gates of San Quentin into a media circus. According to the Fox News story linked to in the first paragraph, Williams' witnesses to the execution cried,
after he was declared dead, "The state of California just killed an innocent man," as they walked out of the execution chamber.

Not hardly.

If by some stretch Williams was not in fact guilty of the murders for which he was convicted (notwithstanding a unanimous jury verdict and exculpatory evidence sufficient to overturn the conviction not having been found by numerous courts over the last 24 years), he was not "innocent." Among other things, he was the co-founder of the notorious LA gang, the Crips, who collectively are responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths.

As Wretchard notes, the uproar was not really about Tookie, or his victims, it was about politics. He observes,
Issues of guilt and innocence; crime and punishment have been distorted by the political process. How else do you have Ramsey Clark defending Saddam and European investigators refusing to provide cooperation because it might lead to the Death Penalty? Crime stops being about criminals and their deeds and becomes yet another battleground in the culture wars. It becomes less about human beings and more about political agendas.
As for myself, I'm mildly pro-death penalty. I think the ultimate punishment should be reserved for the most egregious cases, such as when torture or terrorism is involved, or when a cop or a child has been murdered, or when someone serving a life sentence commits murder. Short of that, I think life without parole should be a sentence that is as hard and miserable as we can make it without running afoul of "cruel and unusual punishment" as the phrase was understood in 1790 America. Those sentenced to LWOP should, in my opinion, contemplate suicide as a favorable alternative to what they can look forward to each and every day of their incarceration (without, of course, having the means to actually commit suicide). It is a fact that the vast majority of convicted murderers have had many more chances than they gave their victims--they should not live in comfort while the innocents they killed lie rotting in the ground.

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