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On: 2005 / 12 / 13 Viewed: 78403 times
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I've heard this morning on the radio that someone named Stanley 'Tookie' Williams was about to be executed in California, after being sentenced to death in 1981. My — naive — question is : why did they wait for 24 years ?

I don't know if death penalty is a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm pretty sure that waiting for as long as what looks like a perpetuity jail sentence before executing someone is really dumb. It's obvious that such a long period is likely to deeply change someone's personality. It's obvious they're not even executing the same person they have judged 24 years ago.

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This entry "A Question About Death Penalty in the USA" was posted on 13/12/2005 at 10:37 am and is tagged with , , , ,
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5 Blablas

  1. Dave M. says:

    Well, it would really suck if you were executed and 3 days later the real purp confessed to the crime, now wouldn't it. ;)

    I'll give you that 24 years may be excessive, but let's at least make sure we have the right person before we throw the switch/inject/what ever the hell is done these days.

    Sure, Mr. Williams could have changed in those 24 years, but depending on the crime, would you really want a person that was sentenced to death back on the streets? There was talk of just making him live out his life behind bars. Maybe that would have been more humane, but just how humane was Mr. Williams 24 years ago to put him where he was to be put to death.

  2. Ozh says:

    Yes Dave, I'm not stating that a 3 days trial then lethal injection would be better. This guy was caught in something like 1978, and after what seems to be a 3 years trial, sentenced to death in 1981. To me 3 years look like a decent delay to make sure you're on the right person. Now, why wait 24 years again ? Either you decide someone has to die, or you decide to give him a perpetuity penalty. Here, it's like someone hesitated between the 2 options for a quarter of a century…

  3. Dave M. says:

    Plus we have to consider what he was like in prison during that 24 year time span. If he was a model prisoner, or a trouble maker.

    I certainly don't know all the facts.

    Personally, I'm not one for the death penalty myself. I think a life sentence is way worse than being put to death. The rest of your life incarcerated has to be an awful life. From a victim’s point of view, I would think that they would prefer seeing the guilty party suffer in prison for the rest of their life than to put them out of their misery so quickly.

  4. armouf says:

    24 years waiting for his execution is surely a very long delay. Too long.

    You dont need to wait 3 years to be sure the person convicted was really guilty. As soon as it is not possible any more to exert a recourse, you are guilty, period. (if you except, petition of revision).

    But dont forget one thing. If some people like that stay that much time in jail waiting to be executed, it's partially because of legal legal recourses going on (appeal, supreme court and on and on)

  5. Crisler says:

    I just received this book entitled, "Death Penalty USA 2005 – 2006", by Michelangelo Delfino and Mary E. Day. It was just published this month and not yet available from Amazon so I got it directly from the publisher at According to the publisher, the book is the first in a series of books summarizing all 21st century death penalty cases. If you want to know all about Stanley "Tookie" Williams, turn to pp. 197-201. After reading this book I don't think there is any doubt that Tookie was guilty but I'm not sure he should have been executed. Just my opinion.

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