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Your e-mails: Tookie Williams to be put to death

CNN.com readers fear rioting in California and other places

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Stanley Tookie Williams was sentenced to death for four 1979 murders.

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Tookie Williams
Arnold Schwarzenegger

(CNN) -- Death row inmate Stanley Tookie Williams, a founder of the Crips street gang who has worked from behind bars to quell gang violence, has asked California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare his life. The request was denied and he will be put to death shortly after midnight.

CNN.com asked readers to send in their thoughts on whether Williams should be granted clemency. Here is a selection of those responses, sent in by e-mail:

I believe in this case that clemency should be granted. I strongly agree with the death penalty, but at the same time, I feel that if Tookie Williams is executed, it will set off riots in L.A. and other parts of California that could possibly take other peoples lives, those that are innocent. Mr. Williams deserves to be in jail, and he deserves the death penalty, but do the would-be victims of such rioting deserve to die? In this case, saving one man's life, could possibly save a hundred more. Don't think of him, think of those who would be hurt or killed in the reaction. All the talk of being reformed is pointless. He's still a killer, and deserves to die, but others don't.
Eugene, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Once again a big tough criminal who has taken life and limb from others, and then when it comes time to pay the price, they start whining it is so unfair. Yes he wants to live, well so did his four victims. I suspect the families of those he killed had high hopes of raising a family and watching them grow, but his selfish act of needing drug money brought that to an end. I'm not religious by any means, but, I say a life for a life. And at this rate he owes us four.
Victor Wilson, Portland, Texas

I think Tookie Williams should be executed. The reason being is that he killed four people in cold blood. He is a founder [of] a violent street gang which is still active (as far as I know). Just because he writes books or any thing like that he should not be granted clemency by Governor Schwarzenegger.
John Woodworth, Warren, Ohio

I think that Mr. Tookie Williams should not be executed. Even though he started a gang that killed thousands of people, he saved thousands of people through his books and speeches. Did you all stop and think that if he dies there might be a riot because there are many Crips who still see him as there leader? So if he dies, think of all the trouble it will cause!
Quany, Nashville, Tennessee

He should be granted clemency. He is teaching young children to stay out of gangs. He also seems to have remorse for what he has done. There is no greater punishment to a person than taking their freedom away. Let him stay in prison the rest of his life. When he is executed his punishment ends.
Teri, Plymouth, Massachusetts

The trial and verdict has nothing to do with his past activities as the founder of a gang nor does it have anything to do with his efforts to persuade persons from living the gang lifestyle. Instead it is a verdict based on the facts surrounding the murder of four people twenty years ago. He cannot undo the death of four people through the good things he may have done since the time of the events because the murders and his subsequent behavior have nothing to do with each other. The question is did he commit the murders? The courts found he did after an exhaustive examination of the facts. I think that the verdict was fair and the sentence should be carried out.
Robin Gereluk, Tarrapoa, Ecuador

I have read some of the e-mails regarding this situation and it saddens my heart to see and know that people are so insensitive! We as people are quick to judge when looking on the outside in! If we had to pay for what we've done, no one would have a chance. Mr. Williams deserves a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc chance, just like any other person! It is clear that he's turned his life around! He shows it in his acts! We, as people send other people to jail to get reformed and 9 times out of 10, the person in jail becomes a better criminal, but not Mr. Williams. He chose another route. Mr. Williams, knowing he was going to be executed, could've chosen to make prison life hell, but he didn't! He did what the American people's system said to do and that is to become reformed! I don't think he should have to give up names, dates, firstborn, right arm, or anything else to prove he's changed. I thank Mr. Williams for his experience, his testimony, and pray strength and courage for him in this hour.
Tonda Faulkner, St. Louis, Missouri

Tookie Williams has earned the death sentence. He murdered 4 people. Almost everyone who is on death row has found God and is repentant but he took 4 lives in cold blood. Nobody has argued for Charles Manson's release and he never took a shotgun to anyone, nor did he kill 3 people for 100 dollars. Manson approved the murders of the innocent -- Williams created the Crips which have done the same. What makes Mr. Williams more deserving of clemency? What happens to a family when a loved one is murdered -- shot twice in the back with a shotgun? Why do celebrities rally to a murderer's side but ignore the victims? There is a line that must not be crossed and Mr. Williams crossed it. We should never forgive murder.
D. Brown, Ogden, Utah

I think that Mr. Williams should be granted clemency. If he did or did not murder those 4 people the changes he has made in the lives of young people is tremendous. Who better to help keep our youth of today out of jail other than someone who has been there? As a young person I feel he should be spared to set an example. To kill him would most likely start an all out gang war where we the youth would end up in the crossfire. Then who will be to blame? Gov. Schwarzenegger should have mercy.
D., Roselle, New Jersey

Clemency should not be granted. What we need to understand is that the death penalty is a punishment! Please stop with the "death penalty has been proven not to deter crime". That is not what it is designed to do. It is designed to punish criminals who have committed the single most heinous act one can inflict on another. This man murdered four people. As far as I am concerned, his "good deeds" clock stopped right then. Whatever came after that is inconsequential. Let's also not forget that he is a con and will do anything and use anyone to save his soul.
Tim, Fayetteville, North Carolina

If they execute Tookie Williams they are just as bad as him. What is it? "Do as I say but not as I do?" Who gives anyone the right to take someone else's life? Yes, what he did was a terrible thing and yes, I am yet to hear him say he is sorry for his crime but executing him will not bring those victims back. He has helped to write all those books that are helping young kids. At least he is trying to do the right thing. Let him live the rest of his life regretting in his heart the mistakes he has made. Let him live and keep trying to help others.
Audene Morrison, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tookie Williams was tried and convicted of murdering four people. For that he was sentenced to the death penalty. What he has done since his incarceration should not be taken into consideration. He was tried for a specific crime and for that crime he should die. What about the four people he brutally murdered? We, and their families, will never know what good those individuals could have brought into our world. Even if Williams hadn't killed anyone by his own hand, he is instrumental in the deaths of hundreds. He created a violent gang. Just like Charles Manson, who never killed anyone directly during his 'family' murder spree, Williams is liable for the deaths of anyone who has ever been killed during Crips gang wars since the 1970's. The man is no hero, he is not innocent, and the only reason he now advocates against gangs is because he got caught, tried, and incarcerated. Otherwise he would have been like many other gang members who are either killed or continue to kill to maintain control.
Stacey, Norfolk, Virginia

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