Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another Redemption Story

I know there are plenty of people who are happy about Stanley Tookie Williams’ execution. But I am not one of them. If there is one thing that most of us can rally behind, it is a story of redemption. From the prodigal son to more benign examples like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we normally celebrate this type of change. Although I understand the anger that comes from all the misery he caused in his youth as the leader of the Crips gang, I don’t understand how people can so callously dismiss the positive impact he has had while on death row.

This post isn’t about the merits of the death penalty (that will be for another day). It is about how we should reward genuine change. And I wish somewhere along the way, we could have done that for Williams. So even though his positive impacts from his writings trying to prevent gang violence are minimal compared to his impacts in fostering it, maybe we should have given him the rest of his life to try to atone for what he did.

I do understand Governor Schwarzenegger’s statement though. He was looking for the one thing that Williams’ hasn’t provided - repentance. While Williams has denounced gangs, he has not repented for the crimes that put him on death row. And had he done this, maybe this story would have had a different ending.