With only three weeks until his scheduled execution, it is high time LAist talked about Stanley "Tookie" Williams. As Snoop might say, we gots ta do it. The oddest story in the battle for Tookie's life has to be the prison's attempt to destroy Williams's credibility as a reformed man. What stake does the penal system have in this? They shouldn't care what sentence is meted out for any of their inmates. Their only job is to penalize, reform and rehabilitate for the time issued. We fully understand what interest prosecutors, police and the families of victims have, but the guards and the warden? Shut it.
Earl Ofari Hutchison wrote a column today encouraging clemency and Jesse Jackson and Bianca Jagger, after visiting with Mr. Williams today, will request it as well. Rallies have been held across the country and the Williams tale of redemption has international significance and has been turned into a movie. As the ACLU in Toledo writes, this is one of the few death penalty cases where questions of guilt and innocence aren't really the defining points in the question of clemency. Should reform and good works after being convicted of a crime be weighted more or differently than the violence and murder that came before it?
Commuting his sentence to life in prison, politically, isn't as difficult a task as it could be for the Governor. No one is seeking to make Tookie's crimes less significant or even suggesting that he isn't guilty of terrible things. Not killing him won't make Schwarzenegger look soft on crime.
In a state that rarely uses its death penalty powers, reason and humanity might even hold more political clout.
For an alternate take - the Claremont Institute disagrees.