Justice Deniedby Chris Byrne
Justice Delayed is Justice denied
We hear that mantra frequently, from both sides of the judicial philosophy aisle; and it is a core concept of our justice system… or at least it was until the 1970’s (why is it that so many things got so much worse then.. well actually we know why that is, but that’s another topic entirely).
In 1969, Stanly “Tookie” Williams and Raymond Washington founded the most violent street gang in the history of the united states, the Crips. You might remember hearing about the crips every… oh about thirty seconds or so, during the ‘80s
That’s about how frequently they were murdering, raping, selling crack, stealing cars, robbing homes and businesses… hell it was probably every 5 seconds.
Over their 36 year history, the Crips are believed to be DIRECTLY responsible for at least 10,000 murders. Tookie himself is suspected of personal involvement in at least 30 murders; and may have ordered or been an accessory to hundreds. Of course those are just wild ass guesses but they have been repeated in the media often enough, and by law enforcement often enough, it’s entered the national consciousness as “true”.
Tookie is on death row; not for being the founder of the gang, but for the robbery and murder of Albert Owens, Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin, in 1979.
There is no question that Tookie is guilty of these crimes. He confessed to them (to informants. Publicly he has always proclaimed his innocence) while in prison after his sentencing. He robbed and very brutally murdered those people, he was convicted, and sentenced to death in 1981.
From 1983 until 1990 Tookie was placed in solitary confinement for fighting, assaulting guards, and for ordering murders from prison. He bragged about how many cops he had personally killed. He was in every way a monster.
Do you believe in redemption?
I believe that people can change. I believe that people can redeem themselves for their prior bad acts, and can live good lives going forward. Lord knows I have done many things that I need to redeem in my lifetime; I think we all have.
But I also believe in personal responsibility, and in consequences for your actions. I believe that justice requires the redress of wrongs, whether in money, or in some cases in blood.
In 1993, Tookie had a personal revelation. I won’t say he was born again, though he says that he found his way back to god as part of it. Tookie finally realized the pain and suffering he had caused. He finally felt remorse. Tookie woke up, and became a man; taking responsibility for his actions as the founder of the gang… though he has never lawfully confessed to them.
Tookie started educating himself, and he started writing. He wrote about his life, and his experiences. He wrote about life in prison. He wrote about gang life, and how it was destroying our cities and our black youth.
Tookie started working as an anti-gang activist. He’s helped out law enforcement to combat gangs and gang violence. He wrote more.
Tookie has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against gangs. He may even win it. In fact, considering the other nominees, he probably deserves it.
From all reports, Tookie became a genuinely good man.
Let me be clear, I honestly believe that Tookie has had a complete turnaround. I believe he has become a good man. I believe that one can redeem themselves; and I think he has done it; at least as much as is possible.
But Tookie still needs to die.
Tookies conversion, and his redemption, change nothing. He still killed those four people, he was convicted, all of his appeals have been heard, and denied.
For 24 years, the families of those murdered; and of all the other people who’s lives he ended, or destroyed; have been waiting for him to die. For 24 years the will of the people has been delayed.
I have a serious problem with the death penalty. I believe that it is just; and that it is neither cruel, nor unusual; but I just don’t trust the state with that much power. I don’t necessarily trust juries with that much power. But when it is absolutely clear that a man has ended the life of another without good cause; then it is justified that man be killed.
There is no doubt that Tookie Williams murdered AT LEAST those four people; and his redemption changes nothing.
The rule of law, a law that is clearly constitutional, a law that is approved by the legislature, the courts, and the people; has declared that Tookie has to die.
All of Tookies Appeals have been exhausted. His execution date has been set for later this month. His defense team has taken the final step in asking California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for executive clemency, because they say Tookie is a changed man; he’s not even the same man that commited those crimes so long ago.
But he IS the same man. He may be completely changed, but he is still responsible for his actions, and he must suffer the consequences of those actions.
On December 13th 2005 Tookie Williams has to die.
Justice Delayed, is Justice Denied