My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Of Tookie Williams

The news of the day is largely dominated by the impending execution of Tookie Williams, so I feel compelled to comment.

First of all, you should know that I am opposed to the death penalty. Insofar as I am informed by my Faith to understand that I, too, am a fallen man, I do now see how I, or any man, has been empowered to determine the life or death of any man. More importantly, however, I do not see how I could arrogate the right to determine the timeframe for another man to make their peace with God. Once these death-row types have been put in custody and do not represent a threat to society, I see that society has no more interest in pursuing their deaths. In fact, considering all the media circus, the expense of the appeals process, and the possibility of error, it would strike me as reasonable to say that society's interests are NOT served by pursuing the death penalty.

On the other hand, I also don't think there's any reason to think that these people should be afforded any of the courtesies (however meager) afforded them by the current penal institutions. They get fed three squares a day (more than many children in our society); they have access to computers, books, newspapers and other forms of information which keep them connected to society; and they have visitors from the outside world, also keeping them in touch. I see no societal advantage in this.

I would adocate taking all the money saved by NOT prosecuting death penalty cases to build a series of 12x12 holes in the ground, 25 feet deep, in an undisclosed location, in which we can deposit our worst criminals. Artificial lighting, no human contact, limited access to news and information, and a limited library (heavy on the religious texts of the world). Let these people find their way to redemption in whatever timeframe God sees fit to give them. Drop food and necessary sustenance in to them, and let them simply be.

As to Tookie, while I admire his efforts from behind prison bars to discourage gang activity, his "redemption" is rather incomplete. As Gov. Schwarzennegger put it:

It is impossible to seperate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption.

Redemption requires more than a karmic investment in improving ones' self; it requires contrition. Continuing to maintain his innocence in the face of over 24 judicial rulings against him--some of which relied on eyewitness accounts--borders on laughable, and completely undermines his assertion of redemption.

And, in so far as the state of California has seen fit to coninue enforcing the death penalty, I see no reason of LAW to not kill this man as scheduled.

The rightness of this act is not at issue for me; the rightness of the policy is the key to this case, and somebody's just going to have to do a better job articulating the argument.

In the meantime, I do pray that Tookie's redemption is genuine, and that his soul will rest in peace with the souls of the four innocents he killed, not to mention the thousands killed by gang violence he helped spawn.

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