Monday, December 12, 2005

A bigger list...

I've been thinking about The Lonely Abolitionist tonight. I looked back to see what kind of posts I've made in the last few months. I've done very few, and only 2 obits since Michael Ross. That means that my blog has missed one of its main stays, the obit, for several individuals. I went and looked at the list of executions for 2005 and the list is longer than I ever imagined. I still mark them on my calendar, and I still pay attention, but I just never realized how long the list is. So, here is one giant obit for the time from Michael Ross to Tookie Williams:

Vernon Brown - Missouri - May 17, 2005 - 51 years old
Bryan Wolfe - Texas - May 18, 2005 - 44 years old
Richard Cartwright - Texas - May 19, 2005 - 31 years old
Gregory Scott Johnson - Indiana - May 25, 2005 - 40 years old
Jerry Paul Henderson - Alabama - June 2, 2005 - 58 years old
Alexander Martinez - Texas - June 7, 2005 - 28 years old*
Robert Dale Conklin - Georgia - July 12, 2005 - 44 years old
Michael L. Pennington - Oklahoma - July 19, 2005 - 37 years old
Kevin Connor - Indiana - July 27, 2005 - 38 years old
David Martinez - Texas - July 28, 2005 - 29 years old
George Sibly - Alabama - August 4, 2005 - 62 years old
Gary Sterling - Texas - August 10, 2005 - 38 years old
Kenneth Eugene Turrentine - Oklahoma - August 11, 2005 - 52 years old
Robert Alan Shields - Texas - August 23, 2005 - 30 years old
Timothy Johnston - Missouri - August 31, 2005 - 44 years old
John W. Peoples Jr. - Alabama - September 22, 2005 - 48 years old
Herman Dale Ashworth - Ohio - September 27, 2005 - 32 years old
Alan Matheney - Indiana - September 28, 2005 - 54 years old
Luis Ramirez - Texas - October 20, 2005 - 42 years old
William Williams, Jr. - Ohio - October 25, 2005 - 48 years old
Marlin Gray - Missouri - October 26, 2005 - 38 years old
Melvin White - Texas - November 3, 2005 - 55 years old
Brian Steckel - Deleware - November 4, 2005 - 36 years old
Arthur Hastings Wise - South Carolina - November 4, 2005 - 51 years old
Charles Thacker - Texas - November 9, 2005 - 38 years old
Steven Van McHone - North Carolina - November 11, 2005 - 35 years old
Robert Rowell - Texas - November 15, 2005 - 50 years old
Shannon Thomas - Texas - November 16, 2005 - 34 years old
Elias Hanna Syriani - North Carolina - November 18, 2005 - 67 years old
Eric Randall Nance - Arkansas - November 28, 2005 - 45 years old
John R. Hicks - Ohio - November 29, 2005 - 49 years old
Kenneth Lee Boyd - North Carolina - December 2, 2005 - 57 years old
Shawn Humphries - South Carolina - December 2, 2005 - 33 years old
Wesley E. Baker - Maryland - December 5, 2005 - 47 years old

*28 years old. He was only 28!! (Martinez "volunteered" for death...suicide by lethal injection).

Tookie Williams and More

I haven't been able to blog consistently for months. I don't know why that is. I don't know if I use work as an excuse, or if I really am too busy to keep up with this in a dedicated fashion. The thing is, keeping up this blog wears me out and yet it impassions me at the same time. It keep me aware and it allows me to feel connected to my cause and to my passion. Regular posting also attracted regular readers and those readers brought in other readers and together, through the grass roots of Internet blogging, we spread the word. Somehow though, I just haven't had the energy to write these last few months.

Tonight, I want to write. I want to write about a man I've never met but to whom I feel connected. California will shortly kill Tookie Williams. There is very little left that could spare him. The Gubernator was almost his last chance, and as politics goes, he was not about the spare Tookie because its not in his best interests politically (arguably!).

As you know, I am against the execution of any individual; however, I am APPALLED at the execution of Tookie Williams. I don't get it. What purpose does it serve? Tookie Williams could do more good for the morally bankrupt kids that end up getting sucked into Los Angeles gangs like the Crips than any other person alive. Tookie Williams changed his life from behind bars and he could serve so much good in showing others how to as well. What good can he do dead? Does his death REALLY show that California is serious about crime and will execute you if you do something it deems deserving of death? Does it really show that? How long was Tookie on death row? Do you even know? 25 years! Tookie Williams served on California's death row for 25 years. Now, after all that time, California thinks its time to kill him.

I don't know if there were errors in Tookie's trial. Even if there weren't critical legal errors, it was almost certainly racist and classist. Despite all that, sparing Tookie should have nothing to do with whether his trial was proper. It has nothing to do with whether he's innocent or guilty (and admitting guilt could be a double edged sword). Tookie Williams writes books to children and counsels teenagers about getting out of gang life. He reportedly spends his time in San Quentin trying to figure out how to save teenagers from entering a life (likely shortened life) of violent crime. There is some evidence that contradicts this and there are skeptics out there that believe that Tookie's books are all a scam and a way to try to get attention and prevent his death. I suppose they could be. That said, there are doubters of everything in this world (even obvious monstrosities). You will ALWAYS find someone with the opposite viewpoint on things. I don't know what the truth is, but I do know that Tookie's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times by reputable sources.

Is Tookie Williams a "good man"? I don't know (and how does one define a "good man"?). I do know that he should be given a chance. I do know that the chance that he could help even one person stay out of a gang is worth a shot. I would bet my everything I own that he would save more lives alive than dead. Pro-death penalty folks argue that his death will show gang members and other violent criminals that there is a penalty for murder. They say it will deter future murders. (Perhaps, but the evidence on deterrence is nominal to slim at best.) I tend to think that if Tookie Williams is as legitimately changed as he appears to be that he can do a lot more good and prevent a lot more murders if California just lets him live and continue his work.