Stale Justice

Give it up for California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and his efforts in making sure justice continues to be served—albeit a stale and moldy serving of it in his denials for clemency regarding the former Crips member Stanley “Tookie” Williams and 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen.

This whole spiel reminds me of a refrigerator that has been unattended and all the food in it is… well, it’s not food anymore. It’s something else. And when justice in this form starts to stink this bad, I start to wonder if capital punishment is worth it.

I suppose there would be nothing to write about if those guys had been given their just sentencing when it was timely.

Yeah, I feel so much better knowing that my hard-earned tax dollars aren’t keeping their sorry butts alive any longer… ahh, even if it has been over 20 years since their conviction. So much for a swift justice system. Who is really benefiting from a wheel-chair-ridden and nearly blind 76-year-old’s execution? How many of us are walking around feeling like the world is so much better off now that he’s finally dead?

So, who is to blame when it comes to the delays in carrying out a convict’s execution order?

Lawyers? Probably.

The system itself? I suppose.

Can it be fixed? Doubt it.

My take on it is, that if it takes longer than a year to execute someone who has been given the death sentence, their sentence automatically is turned over to life imprisonment without parole. Simple as that.

And then I start to wonder if that’s moving things along too fast. What if evidence turns up later that clears your name if you had been given that final one-way ticket not long after your trial? How good would you feel about that? That’s quite a bit worse than driving all the way home and finding your take-out order is completely wrong.

So, now I’m thinking, perhaps capital punishment isn’t such a good idea, period.

Why is that? Well, for one, people change. Even nasty ones. I’m certainly not the same person I was 10 years ago and I doubt anyone else is either. And when one is locked up behind bars, well, there all kinds of transformations that happen to a person—starting with finding Jesus in the big house. So, who the hell are we to put another down once their life has come back around for the good?

I find it hard to believe that the Stanley “Tookie” Williams who was executed last month is the same person that killed four people 25 years ago? I’ve subscribed to the idea that when in prison, prisoners were often subject to rehabilitation. Apparently not as far as Arnold is concerned—one has to show more than just writing a handful of children’s books that send a positive message about staying away from gangs.

I won’t argue that these guys didn’t kill anyone. All I’m saying is that after 25 years in prison, I’m sure they’re not the same people anymore. Who is after 25 years—however they spend that time.

And if it were me… say some bloke killed my sister 23 years ago and finally, his execution orders are in place, how would I feel? Well, I can only project myself into that situation, but I’d like to think that I’d feel rather hollow about revenge after all that time. Sure, I could have pulled the switch myself in that first year following the trial. But after 23 years, I can’t imagine I would be too passionate about greasing the dude.