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No Clemency for Tookie

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency for Crips founder Stan Tookie Williams this afternoon.

A last-minute reprieve for Tookie is considered a longshot, and unless something dramatic happens in the 11th hour, Williams will be put to death by lethal injection just after midnight in San Quentin. If it happens, Williams will be just the 12th person to be executed in Californiasince death penalty was re-established in 1977.

Williams was convicted in 1981 of killing a convenience store clerk during holdup and then a mother, father and daughter in a motel robbery a few weeks later.

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According to an Associated Press report:

Schwarzenegger was unconvinced that Williams had had a change of heart, and he was unswayed by pleas from Hollywood stars and capital punishment foes who said the inmate had made amends by writing children's books about the dangers of gangs... Williams claimed he was innocent...In his last-ditch appeal, Williams claimed that he should have been allowed to argue at his trial that someone else killed one of the four victims, and that shoddy forensics connected him to the other killings.

Now, whether you are for or against Arnie's decision is completely up to you. But consider this fact illuminated by Marc Cooper in last week's LA Weekly:

More than 3,000 people currently sit on death row, slowly awaiting execution. About one of five are in California. Blacks and whites have been the victims of murder in almost equal numbers, but 80 percent of those executed since 1977 were convicted of murders of white people. And more than 40 percent of those awaiting execution are blacks.

Just something to think about. And the more we think about the death penalty, the more numb we get.

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