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The Plight of Stanley “Tookie” Williams

It would be better if Stanley “Tookie” Williams, co-founder of the Crips, were not put to death for the murders he was convicted of because martyrdom is no place for someone who has done the things he’s done. It’s just as easy to let him sit there and continue to make attempts at making up for his crimes, and let him stew in the inevitable madness. The problem with not putting him to death would be the remote possibility of his release. Even then, the very network of terror he helped to create, a terror he hasn’t formally taken responsibility for since his lockup in 1979, would no doubt be waiting for him in the shadows. Perhaps he could use one of his books as a shield.

The most appropriate course of action would be to allow the victims’ families to decide his fate between a lifetime in jail or death. Release should not be an option at all. That Stanley has done any good of any kind simply does not make up for his crimes. The families of his victims, specifically the families of those kids he pulled into his den of inequity and who subsequently died (or were injured or just never went on to accomplish anything at all), are the ones whose opinions matter most. These families are the better judge of whether this man deserves clemency or not. If they don’t think he should be relieved, then he should not be relieved. They deserve no less respect than our judicial system has afforded Stanley.

Jamie Foxx’ assertion that race had anything to do with determining Stanley’s fate is negated by the number of non-black murderers on death row who, despite their changes in heart, went on to die.

It is curious that anyone, much less Archbishop Desmond Tutu, would appear to think one mans’ life is worth more than another’s. The archbishop has not gone to the mat for every death row inmate who has experienced a change of heart and accomplished some good thereafter. What is so special about Stanley? He is not the only person on death row or in the prison system to make such a change and accomplish things counter to his crime.

Apparently it’s easier for the well known to provide acoustics on death row rather than skid row where there are no armed guards at every turn.

Snoop Dogg, having said, “his voice needs to be heard”, has apparently forgotten the number of young men who heard Stanley’s call to terror many years ago. His voice had already been heard; that would be the problem there, Snoop. It is especially troubling that Snoop Dogg would take up this fight. He is a former gang member by choice, unlike Stanley’s status as a former gang member having come by default. Stanley is a traitor to those like Snoop Dogg who made the conscious decision to abandon a dangerous path in favor of a healthier life. With the only motive being the betterment of his own life, Snoop’s internally based decision to leave the street life contrasts Stanley’s externally based choices whose motives could easily be attributed to sheer boredom and a last ditch effort to stay alive. As such, one must question the sincerity and longevity of those motives especially if he were to be released.

Stanley has said he isn’t impressed with his prominent supporters. This is akin to the rich man’s claim that money means nothing when in fact he would not have been a quotable person without it. Give us a break Stanley. Not all of us are impressionable street youth with no future prospects and on the lookout for a father figure no matter how dysfunctional.

The isolating of Stanley’s work as if he were the only one who could or the only one who has done the kind of work he’s doing is the most tired argument for his release. His accomplishments hardly stand alone. There are a good many former gang members who, without landing themselves on death row, denounced their previous alliances and went on to do great things for themselves and with respect to the children in their communities. Where are their celebrity props?

Anything Stanley has or would accomplish is muted by what he’s done — even if you set the murders aside. Founding a terrorist organization is criminal. It’s not good enough for a man to potentially save some kids from the streets when he has already and decidedly doomed so many. If he wants to work to change the conditions under which one is assigned to death row then he has precious little time to get on with it. In the meantime, the conditions of becoming a resident on death row don’t come with an asterisk that would evict those with a change of heart.

About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.

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