Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Crime and punishment

Tookie Williams Executed by Lethal Injection
"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."

At 12:35am Tookie was held accountable for his actions here on earth. What happens to his soul is between him and God, but our government, instituted by man, has to punish criminal behavior.

While I can't take pleasure in his death I am glad that this happened because it's an important reminder that consequences do exist. It's a scary phenomenon today that so many people want to convince the world that the law of action and reaction does not apply. That when you get a negative reaction for your behavior that simply makes you a victim.

It always amazes me the high profile that AIDS gets. It is a 100% preventable disease. As I am writing this I can gurantee you that I will not get AIDS. (don't bother me with the .000001% chance of some freak accident) If you have AIDS I'm sorry, but at the same time you chose to have sex outside of marriage or stick that needle in your arm. When you were doing one, or both, of those things you had convinced yourself that there would be no consequence for what you were doing. You were wrong.

With our dysfunctional death penatly system a lot of people are convinced that there might not be a fatal consequence for their heinous crimes. I'm glad that the state of California proved them wrong.


Jim said...

Daniel --

"While I can't take pleasure in his death..."

Considering the exclamatory note in the banner on your homepage (which I find pretty tasteless) I have a hard time believing this.

It's beside the point however. I'm anti-death penalty. But at the very least, if we're going to, as a nation-state, continue this practice that has been virtually eradicated from other modern western justice systems (where they also have drastically lower rates of violent crime; blood-lust begets blood-lust), for the love of God, why wait over 25 years post-conviction to carry it out? Either find a way to carry it out within a few years of the conviction or get rid of it, I say. Life in prison is disincentive enough.

Anonymous said...

I say they should of hung him by the neck until dead.... lethal injection was to humane. There has been no one in quite sometime that is more deserving on this death than Tookie Williams, and as for the "anti-death penalty" guy - You're an idiot!

Sailor Republica said...


>why wait over 25 years post-conviction to carry it out?

Appeals. It's not like they're sitting on it, Mr. Williams kept appealing. It takes that long, y'know. That is our legal system. Don't like it, then YOU run for Supreme Court justice.

Tony said...


1. Your premise that there is "drastically lower rates of violent crime" in other countries is flawed. It isnt true. If you find some country where it is, show me the direct connection between a lack of death penalty and lower crime.

2. You are right. The death penalty should be carried out quicker. One mandatory appeal to a death penalty review court at the US Court of Appeals level and you are done, either commuted or executed in about 3 years.

3. The notion that death penalty supporters like me have "blood lust" is offensive. There is no desire for revenge or a desire to see death that motivates my support for the death penalty. It is a conviction that if you steal life from another, justice demands that you forfeit your own right to continue living. Life in prison, which you could get for 100 counts of embezzelment or peddling drugs or other lesser crimes, suggests that society views those crimes as equal to murder. And they arent equal. The death penalty is a societal condemnation of murder as being uniquely aggregious.

And please don't come back with equating the killing of criminals with the murders they committed. They arent equal. Liberals always want to equate the killing of the innocent with the killing of the guilty. Killing the innocent (murder, abortion, etc) is evil, killing the guilty (execution) after due process is completely legitimate.

Tim Lewis said...

Like Daniel has said, if you say something long enough it becomes true.

Other western countries with less violent crime. Where are those? France? Australia? Where will the next violent outbreaks be?

Jim said...

Guess I touched a nerve. I guess because I take a moral position on the death penalty, it makes me an idiot. Well, okay. Would you rather that I go against my convictions, which I constantly challenge, and hold up to the scrutiny of reason, logic and empirical fact?

Sailor - no, I don't like that it works that way, and if we can't get the system to work in a way that doles out the punishment faster, then we should abandon that form of punishment. It's severly flawed in its administration; I think even Daniel feels that way, based on an earlier post I read. I don't think this belief, however, is one so radical that it necessitates my running for the Supreme Court, which would be technically absurd given that its an appointed position.

Tony -- I'm not sure where you get your information, but it's no secret that the U.S. is an extremely violent country when measured by rates of violent crime per capita. Japan, Australia, Canada, and nearly every, if not every, country in Western Europe and the British Isles has (a) drastically lower rates of violent crime and (b) no death penalty. The connection between rates of violent crime and the death penalty is discussed thoroughly by Steven F. Messner and Richard Rosenfeld. Crime and the American Dream, 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

I didn't mean for the blood-lust reference to be offensive. For a less offensive discussion of this notion you might want to look at an article that Messner co-authored in the August 2005 issue of the American Sociological Review entitled "The Legacy of Lynching and Southern Homicide". I find the argument that violent forms of justice are positively correlated with rates of criminal violence compelling, and have seen little if anything in the way of a viable counter-argument.

These are reasonable theories. In no way do they apologize for violent criminal acts or make light of the suffering they bring to families. I don't appreciate the implications that I am doing that in any way.

Gunslinger said...

I take pleasure in his death. I am glad that he is dead, and this world is a better, safer place now.

Aside from the four innocent people he has killed, he has done leagues of damage to our society as a whole, with his gang activity and leadership. He is a criminal scumbag that is responsible for the deaths of not just four, but hundreds of people as well as helping to destroy some of America.

I hope he is burning in hell right now. I hope you liberal idiots find this tasteless. The death penalty is a good thing, and I do agree that it should be a far swifter process. If you admit to a police officer that you killed someone, or you have two or more witnesses to your murdering behavior, said police officer should draw his service weapon and give you a double tap to the forehead. That is swift justice.

So, call me a blood luster, war monger, heathen, whatever. All I know is that I am still alive because I have never murdered people. All tookie knows... It is better to be alive.

Kaelri said...

I came here to give you a link to this post by Jeanne d'Arc - an article struck a nerve in me, I'm not even sure why.

But nothing sent a chill up my spine quite like your post, Gunslinger. Words like yours are the ones that make me worry that the differences between us are as deep as they are irreconcilable.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bob said...

I saw a recent study that proves execution is a deterrent. (At least in literate, industrialized societies.) It concluded that 18 further homicides are caused by failing to execute a murderer.

I will look up the citation if anyone likes.

Daniel said...

Jim, I appreciate your thoughtful approach. Whether you believe it or not I don't take pleasure in death but I know that it is sometimes neccessary. And by "pleasure" I didn't mean to imply that I'm not glad that this sentence was carried out because I am.

I do agree that the appeals proccess needs to be streamlined. I don't think that it is up to the judiciary to change this, they actually shouldn't be allowed to, but the legislative branch sure could do something about it.

Life of lifting weights, cable tv (flat screen in your cell in Oregon prisons) and "hanging with the homies" in not disincentive enough.

While I can't cite the exact study I do know that it has been proven that the recidivism rate for inmates who have been executed is about zero.

As for our country being violent, Mexico not only has no death penalty but also no life without possibility of parole. Head on down there and if you aren't street smart (or even if you are) you have a good chance of getting kidnapped and finding out how violent it really is. I'm not sure about all the central American countries having death penatly but they are all extremely violent.

Jim said...

Daniel -- I was referring to industrialized nations. Typically developing nations are left out of such comparisons becuase it's apples-to-oranges, since most countries with unstable, underdeveloped and often corrupt bureaucracies naturally have high rates of violent crime.

Bob -- If you come across the reference for the study you cited and could pass it along, I'd appreciate it.

Gunslinger -- you've succeeded. I find your post repugnant.

I've concluded that this blogging is a waste of time and a waste of breath. It seems that Daniel is in the minority when in comes to regulars here who actually take opposing arguments into thoughtful consideration, despite disagreeing with them.

I think I'm going to design a study to see if there is a correlation between the number of hours a person spends listening to talk-radio and the rapidity with which they digress into personal attacks and attempts to belittle those with whom they are apparently engaged in "discussions" over policy.

I realize now that you're in the business of activism, and for activists, the cause is sacred and not up for discussion. I should have recognized that earlier.

Enjoy yourselves.

terry said...

The system worked as intended - even if it took way too long. Tookie got what he deserved. Justice was served. Even the 9th Circuit couldn't fault the process. Arnold made two right calls. What's to complain about?

It's quite possible to marry a former needle/drug user and get AIDS from them without any personal drug abuse or sex outside of marriage.

Gunslinger said...

It is interesting how Jim whines about us wanting him to give up his convictions, and moral stance on an issue, then criticizes others for their convictions that are opposite of his.

Tookie was a bad guy. He did bad things to innocent people. In our society there are laws against this. Break those laws, and face the punishment set forth by the people. He faced the punishment.

Repugnant and as chilling as it may be, the fact remains that Tookie was a criminal. Not just a "I stole your car stereo" criminal, but a seriously bad guy. He himself murdered people, and oredered the murder of countless numbers more. Not to mention fathering some of the worst gangs in this nation's history. I seriously can't think of a better candidate for the death penalty.

As far as taking your argument into thoughtful consideration goes, I did consider it. I consider it to be your opinion that differs from mine. You expressed your opinion, I expressed mine. Am I somehow a worse person because I don't accept your arguments as factual, and dismissed them as baseless?

Life in prison is not disincentive at all, if it were, there would be no crime. The flip side, is that the death penalty also apparently is not disincentive. The answer? Something else maybe, but I am satisfied with the use of the death penalty as a means of punishing the wicked. Be it a deterrent to others or not.

Yes, it takes way to long to carry out a death sentence. Put it on a ballot and I will vote for it.

Kaleri, I am sorry that you feel that way, because I don't. I am sure that there are quite a few issues that you and I could see eye to eye on. This is just not one of them apparently.

Anonymous said...

Gunslinger, good post. You hit the proverbial nail on the head.

Kaelri said...

Gunslinger - It's not the issues so much as the ideology underneath them. There are plenty of specific 'issues' on which we could debate, understand each other, compromise or perhaps even change each other's mind.

But I can promise you that you'll never get me to take pleasure in death, much less hope that another human being is condemned to eternal torture. Suppose I can't shake what d'Arc called "a deep-seated understanding that if killing is wrong, killing a killer is also wrong."

If by killing one you can save two, then do it; it's the lesser of two evils. But I doubt anyone alive would be dead if Tookie Williams wasn't. And I must wonder, given that, how anyone reconciles this with the "culture of life..."

Tim Lewis said...

So is killing unborn babies wrong?

Kaelri said...


Juliancito said...

You can get AIDS if you're married too. Nice try though. Death Penalty is pointless by the way. Not only are there far worse things than death, there is no justification for vengeance. It's a selfish human phenomenon. Come out of your box.