[JURIST] AP is reporting that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to grant clemency to Crips gang co-founder and convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams [advocacy website; clemency petition, PDF], set to be executed just after midnight tonight. In denying clemency, Schwarzenegger wrote:
Williams claims that he is particularly deserving of clemency because he has reformed and been redeemed for his violent past. Williams claim of redemption triggers an inquiry into his atonement for all his transgressions. Williams protests that he has no reason to apologize for these murders because he did not commit them. But he is guilty and a close look at Williams post-arrest and postconviction conduct tells a story that is different from redemption....Read the full statement of decision [PDF].
Williams has written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison. In 1996, a Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence childrens book series was published. In 1998, Life in Prison was published. In 2004, Williams published a memoir entitled Blue Rage, Black Redemption. He has also recently (since 1995) tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking, including a protocol for street peace to be used by opposing gangs.
It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams message. Williams co-founded the Crips, a notorious street gang that has contributed and continues to contribute to predatory and exploitative violence.
The dedication of Williams book Life in Prison casts significant doubt on his personal redemption. This book was published in 1998, several years after Williams claimed redemptive experience. Specifically, the book is dedicated to Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars. The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement....
There is also little mention or atonement in his writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of our modern culture. One would expect more explicit and direct reference to this byproduct of his former lifestyle in Williams writings and apology for this tragedy, but it exists only through innuendo and inference.
Is Williams redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption. In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.
Clemency decisions are always difficult, and this one is no exception. After reviewing and weighing the showing Williams has made in support of his clemency request, there is nothing that compels me to nullify the jurys decision of guilt and sentence and the many court decisions during the last 24 years upholding the jurys decision with a grant of clemency.
9:35 PM ET - AP reports that the US Supreme Court has now rejected without comment a last-ditch petition for a stay on appeal from the Ninth Circuit ruling earlier this afternoon. There are no further legal barriers to Williams' scheduled execution at 12:01 AM Tuesday.
Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase: