Sympathy For The Killers, Not the Victims
STANLEY “TOOKIE” Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection in California’s San Quentin prison next Tuesday. His death will occur nearly 27 years after he brutally murdered Albert Owens, a 7-Eleven clerk in Whittier, Calif., and three members of the Yang family — Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin — at the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles.Jacoby then goes on to explain that Williams has neither admitted to the murders he did, nor cooperated with the police by giving them information about the Crips, the street gang he founded. Then he concludes:
Unlike the peaceful, painless demise awaiting Williams, the deaths of his victims were horrific: He shot each of them at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun, shattering their bodies so that they died in agony. Their suffering amused him. “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him,” Williams bragged after killing Albert Owens. According to the district attorney’s summary of the evidence, “Williams then made gurgling or growling noises and laughed hysterically about Owens’s death.”
In its latest roundup of death penalty statistics, “Capital Punishment, 2004,” the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that at least 101 murderers now on death row were already in prison when they murdered their victims; at least 44 others were prison escapees. Lock-‘em-up-and-throw-away-the-key may sound appealing. But some murderers will always escape and murder again. Others will kill in prison.Death penalty opponents claim that executing murderers somehow sends the message that killing is alright, since the state is killing. This sort of logic says that sending an army to invade Germany in World War II sent a message that invasions are alright. Of course, it sent exactly the opposite message.
Ultimately, the case for putting murderers like Williams and Boyd to death isn’t just a practical one, strong though the practical arguments are. It is also a moral one. When the state executes a murderer, it is making a statement about the demands of justice and the sanctity of human life — a statement as old as Genesis, and as essential as ever.
And executing murderers sends exactly the right message about the value of human life.