It has been kind of quiet here about Tookie Williams- I guess it is Hollywood’s cause du jour- but today we learned that the Governator will not. I have mixed emotions as I read this bit of news. When I was younger, and concerned more with fun than the very real abuses of authority, I would have thought that he should die. Tonight, as an adult, I think he should live. But, he should live without the chance of parole. He could, then, work on proving his innocence and remain non-threatening to society.
Here in the U.S., we once prided ourselves on dispensing justice fairly and wisely. An accused man would meet his accuser in court and be judged by a jury of his peers. If the accused was convicted, his peers would determine the punishment. That, of course, was before our “War on (fill in the blank)” mentality and mandatory sentencing. I understand that Tookie’s fate was decided before before Supreme Court cases, but it was after California’s That group was founded in 1977.
And we all know what happens when Americans are duped in the name of war. We have a “war on drugs”, “war on terror”, “war on poverty” and a “war on Christmas” going on right now. In the drug war, we have police falsifying evidence against the innocent. See Tulia, Texas and Dallas, Texas. Our war on terror brings up Gitmo . These are the things vexing me tonight. We have seen-over and over- what a little hysteria can do. And we have seen what the government will do to placate our worried souls.
Tookie Williams never admitted guilt. He has maintained (from the reports I read) consistent testimony. He was a co-founder of a notorious California street gang and he was brought to trial during a period of gang hysteria; with police having to make a bust to prove their worth. From what I could find, there is no conclusive evidence against the man. It seems to be circumstantial evidence of testimony from other crooks buying a way out of their own long sentences. The Turkish Press reports,
According to court documents, a former prisoner has testified that sheriff’s deputies fed incriminating evidence to a witness who testified against Williams at his 1981 murder trial, and forged Williams’ handwriting to create bogus evidence.
The fact thatAmerican immates prove innocent is not an anomaly. DNA evidence has many times led to justice for the wrongly accused. According to ,
…Another of the twenty-eight original cases was that involving a man named Rolando Cruz. In February 1983, a 10-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped, and bludgeoned to death. There were no leads in the case until an anonymous tip led the police to place Cruz under arrest on March 6, 1984. Rolando was still only under suspicion until he began to share details about the crime that came to him in “visions.” Based on this information, he was indicted on March 9, 1984, and was later found guilty of kidnapping, rape, and murder. This conviction was made based on several points stressed by the prosecution: 1) several police officers testified that Cruz made incriminating statements, 2) a number of witnesses testified that Cruz admitted to having intimate knowledge of the crimes, 3) the “dream visions” of the murder that plagued Rolando were admitted as evidence on the basis of the testimony of sheriff’s detectives, and 4) Cruz’s alibi was not aggressively pursued. Rolando went to jail and soon appealed his case. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Cruz was “denied a fair trial by reason of introduction of admissions of codefendants.” Another trial ensued, and Rolando was again convicted. Upon a third appeal, Cruz was sentenced yet again. After the third appeal, however, DNA evidence was introduced that cleared Cruz of matching the semen that was found at the crime scene. Rolando was set free after having served eleven years on death row.
We have had more than one hundred deathrow inmates exonerated based on DNA evidence. One is too many. To put a convicted criminal behind bars is one thing. For the innocent, deprivation of liberty is bad enough. For an imperfect system to take the life of an innocent is quite another thing. When Americans leave their “leaders” at the wheel, without the navigator of common sense and vigilant watch, we needlessly harm fellow humans as collateral damage.
Is Tookie innocent? I don’t know. I do know that based on what I have seen, between the reports of his case and other miscarriages of justice, I could not give death. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), (attributed) And right now, blind is not something we can afford to be.