Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stanley "Tookie" Williams


For those of you who don't know him, for those of you who don't know the story...

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, co founder of the Crips, will be put to death on December 13. You're probably saying, so what. Sure he was convicted of commiting four murders (which he says he is innocent of). Yeah, he started one of the most notorious gangs responsible for a lot of the senseless slayings of youth since the 80's. Some say he deserves to die (so says the mother of one of his victims).

Well my question is this: What is our penal system for. Bureaucrats and others make the claim that we use our prison system to attempt to change the prisoners (there's a word for that, but I can't think of it). We want prisoners to come out better than they go in. Well if there isn't a better poster child for that than Tookie then I don't know one.

Tookie went in jail a hard core gangster. He has turned his life around by renouncing the gang lifestyle and the violence. He's the author of several children's books and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Even from behind bars he has become a legitimate contributor to society. Yet we still go back to the past. I understand people have die. I understand he needs to pay his debt to society. But I truly believe he can be more of a value to society as a whole than the likes of Martha Stewart. But as a black man with no money and a poor background, he will get executed. It's a shame. The rich get richer, the poor poorer and society suffers.

Our penal system is a joke.
Good luck to you Tookie. I don't know you, but I wish you the best.


Blogger headliner said...

Our penal system is a joke, I agree. Nowadays prisons aren’t about rehabilitation, and if you are connected in the right way they are hardly about punishment or retribution for crimes to society. I’m glad this man has made some amends for his crimes, I don’t know if he should die or not, that choice is not up to me. If it was I would probably say no, but again I have no authority to decide.

In reference to question you asked, do we really want prisons to rehabilitate people? That would take way more funding and a concerted effort to change the whole penal system culture. America may talk a good game, but I don’t think we really want that. We are happy just to track them after they leave prison, making sure they can’t vote and go to our best school, and stay out of our gated neighborhoods. Visiting someone in jail can be a depressing feeling; thinking about the state of prison system can be equally depressing on its own. I wish Mr. Williams the best, too bad his prison experience is more often the exception than the standard.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Sweet Hammie said...

Maybe this is that "middle class white kid" naivete that I get labeled with just because I am a member of that socio-economic group but does anyone really believe that the reason Mr. Williams is going to be executed is because he is "a black man with no money and a poor background?" Or, could the real reason be that he was found guilty in a court of law by a jury of his peers for 4 murders? On that same note, when was the last time you saw a murderer admit he was guilty of killing someone, much less 4 "someones." I beleive headliner is right. I cannot argue that prisons do not rehabilitate criminals. The economics are not there and never will be. Is that good or fair? No, but it is reality. As a country, we can't afford to improve our schools so I am a little less worried about improving our prisons until we better our educational system. The bigger question for me is why do we want to rehabilitate certain criminals and isn't it an extreme case of hubris to beleive that we can actually accomplish that. Despite my personal beliefs, I am not advocating for the death penalty. Rather, I am saying a man like Mr. Williams, who has been convicted of killing 4 people and who formed arguably the most violent and dangerous gang does not deserve a second chance to benefit society. Will a person with this kind of disregard for human life ever really change? Has David Duke? All I am saying is Mr. Williams did have a hard life, one I cannot relate to. Nonetheless, he is not your average run of the mill murderer. He is that 4 times over. Additionally, the deaths of all those killed and the rapes of all those raped by members of the Crips hang over his head. He did not pull the trigger or drop his pants but he is marked nonetheless.

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