Tuesday, December 13, 2005


California, this morning, executed Tookie Wiliams, a gangster and murderer, after Governor Gropenfuhrer rejected arguments that Williams was either innocent of capital murder or deserving of mercy because of his claims of redemption.

Now, let's be clear: Tookie Williams was not innocent. He was convicted of murdering four people -- a 7-Eleven clerk shot twice in the back during a holdup, and three members of a family during a robbery at a motel -- and as one of the founders of the Crips he set in motion a criminal enterprise that destroyed countless lives. If anyone "deserves to die," it's Tookie. But the part that's puzzling is that, in the US we don't kill people -not officially anyway - because they "deserve to die." The main rationale for the death penalty in this country is that it serves as a deterrance.

In prison, Williams gained international acclaim for writing children's books about the dangers of gang life. Given that he had dedicated himself to disuading kids from joining gangs, what was the more effective deterrance? His life? Or his execution?