Sunday, December 11, 2005

a candidate for clemency and an end to capital punishment

California is scheduled to execute on Tuesday Stanley Tookie Williams, a gang founder who was convicted of killing four people.

Polls show that Californians by two-thirds support the death penalty, but that majority has been slipping over the past several years. As this article pointed out, on a March 2004 field poll, a "sizable minority" -- 31 percent -- said they didn't think the punishment had been imposed on convicted criminals in a manner that was "generally fair and free of error.”

What makes Williams a good candidate for clemency according to his supporters is the work he has done by writing books dissuading youngsters from taking drugs and joining gangs.

According to Rev. Sally Bystroff, a retired Presbyterian minister from Livermore, CA and member of the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Commission, executing Williams---a man who has tried to rehabilitate himself---will tell at-risk young people "that the public really doesn't care about them."

And just twelve days ago, the California Catholic bishops released a statement calling for an end to capital punishment:

In light of the fact that California has scheduled three executions—one in December, one in January and one in February—we implore all Californians to ask themselves what good comes of state-sanctioned killing. We recognize the profound pain of those who have lost loved ones to violence and offer them our prayers and our consolation. However, nothing can undo what was done—even taking the life of the convicted killer. The infliction of the death penalty does not make for a more just society.

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