Oct 26, 2005

Two children stamping on each others face for eternity

“It has taken over 24 years to get to this point, that is a long delay and I would hate to add to that delay.”

And with that two decades spent crawling over broken glass towards redemption are dismissed. Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams will die pretty soon.

I find repulsive the blood thirsty eye-for-an-eye mentality that inspires support for the death penalty; in my mind it represents the kind of self-destructive backward thinking that sees law and government spiralling downwards to the level of those who carry out the crimes in the first place. It denies the possibility of progress, the possibility of humanity. It reduces us to a state of barbaric stasis, two children stamping on each other’s faces for eternity.

If Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders had been able to give American justice the German efficiency he clearly feels its missing, Stanley Williams would have been a beefy footnote in the moronic history of gang violence; the founder of one of the most destructive gangs of all times, executed for a series of brutal murders that took place during two robberies in the 1970s.

And yet in the last 24 years, he managed to achieve the thing that Death Penalty advocates fear the most – reform.

'It didn't happen overnight. There was no epiphany. It took seven years of solitary confinement, of soul-searching, to realise what I had become and that I didn't want to be that person any more.'

Since then Williams life reads like the script to Ron Howard film.

Williams has written nine anti-gang books for teenagers under the umbrella title ' Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence ', launched the Internet Project for Street Peace and mentors schoolchildren by telephone. He has received more than 50,000 emails from young people, parents, teachers and law enforcement officers from around the world testifying that his writings have changed and saved lives.

He once negotiated a peace treaty between rival gangs and has been nominated five times for a Nobel Peace Prize and four times for a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Regardless of what he did in the past (for which he is at present locked up) this is a man who is doing more to loosen the sweaty grip of gang culture on the American (and indeed global) poor. And yet the supreme court, positively salivating with glee, are willing to have him killed.

What possible fucking benefit could this hold to anybody?

Whether or not he did the things he is condemned for (this is questionable), justice should be about more than revenge. This man is not going re-offend. How many fucking Nobel prizes of peace do you have to be nominated for before they know you mean it? If he hasn’t been punished enough, lock him away for the rest of his life. Keep him there. Or is he enjoying it too much at the moment? Does he need to suffer? This is revenge. Mindless, repugnant, emotive revenge. That is all this can possibly be.

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