KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Eye for an Eye

It may be the twenty-first century, but the American legal system is still in the Dark Ages. We're still killing those who kill. Stanley "Tookie" Williams, cofounder of the Crips gang and convicted killer, was executed this morning in California at San Quentin State Prison. The United States is one of the only world powers that still executes criminals. Execution is illegal in the European Union.

Yes, Williams killed people, but he did a great deal of work, while on death row, to dissuade teenagers from joining gangs. He was nominated for Nobel Prizes in peace and in literatuare. Even if he had continued to be unrepentant, he should not have been executed. Why? Because human life is sacred. And because the threat of execution in no way deters people from committing crimes. And because by executing people, we become killers ourselves.

Instead of killing criminals, we should be revamping the penal system to rehabilitate them. But we should go even further: We should be working harder to eliminate poverty and hunger and homelessness and prejudice, to make mental health services more readily accessible to everyone, and to provide educational assistance to learning-disabled students of all racial and ethnic groups. If we were to remove the barriers that so many people in this country face, our prison population would decrease substantially.


Anonymous said...

No, he shouldn't have been executed. I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic as you about the possibility of rehabilitating criminals, but he should not have been executed, because it makes our society no better than the criminals it condemns.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

DrumsNWhistles wrote an excellent post on this topic here.

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