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Your e-mails: Clemency for Tookie Williams? readers debate the fate of reformed gang leader

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


Capital Punishment
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Snoop Dogg

(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. asked readers to e-mail their thoughts on whether Williams should be granted clemency. Here is a selection of those responses, some of which have been edited:

The criminal justice system is flawed in that justice is not swift and severe. Therefore, the general public has the opportunity to heal from the horrific wounds sociopaths such as Williams have inflicted upon society. The victims' families, however, will never heal. The best example Tookie Williams can set is to take his punishment like a man. As co-founder of the Crips, he is directly responsible for the murders of thousands of men and women. Clemency... come on... he should have been hung on the courthouse steps 26 years ago.
Lou Ann, Acworth, Georgia

I believe that he should be spared the death penalty. He has so much to offer African Americans. Keeping Mr. Williams alive will help in educating young black men about the dangers and the consequences of being in gangs. Our community needs Mr. Williams to live to continue to help our people.
Karen Carey, Shreveport, Louisiana

There is only one judge and yet it's so easy to want revenge or justice, whatever one may call it. The death penalty hasn't been a deterrent to gang crime thus far. Nor has prison. It's just a longer reach to run street crime. Offer clemency with his admission and allow him to continue to work from within to reach gang members. If the best way to change business, government, etc. is from the inside out, why not the same for gangs? Gangs have replaced intact families, so let's work to build family structures as well.
Frann, Los Angeles, California

If Mr. Williams is truly rehabilitated then he would be admitting his guilt. If he is truly innocent than we need to be looking at the evidence. If he is guilty, reformed or not, the consequences of the crime demand death. Has anybody considered the victims' families? They can't have clemency of their loved ones. If he is guilty and truly rehabilitated he would be remorseful and declaring his guilt. It is not fair for the governor to be threatened into a decision by riot threats.
Bill, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Stanley Tookie Williams does not deserve clemency. This man and the gangs that he co-founded have destroyed what was once a great place to live. The Crips are like cancer. Everything that these thugs come in contact with is killed or maimed. This man murdered four people and those are the ones we know of. To see the celebrities and so-called black leaders praising Williams as a hero and some comparing Williams to the great Martin Luther King and Moses and Gandhi is disgusting. As a Black American, I have not heard Williams say that he is sorry for the victims. He maintains that he is innocent. Stanley Tookie Williams was tried and found guilty. His sentence is death. Death he deserves.
Russell Givens, Los Angeles, California

I think Stanley should be spared. I'm a Christian person and I believe that two wrongs don't make a right. If he truly is helping kids, then he should live. That's what God would do. God wouldn't execute him.
Kimerly, Sevierville, Tennessee

He should have been executed years ago for the murders. He continues to be defiant and the evidence presented against him is overwhelming. I am tired of hearing all of the liberals indicating what a great man he has become. He is a convicted murderer and nothing else.
John, Roanoke, Virginia

If there is some good to come out of his life being spared, then yes. There needs to be many qualifiers on this, though. He should not be let out of prison for any reason. He should spend the rest of his natural life there. He should be able to speak (in handcuffs and shackles) to school groups, civic organizations, etc. regarding gangs, gang violence, etc. Basically, he should spend the rest of his life trying to help others away from this lifestyle but with no freedom of his own.
Mary M., Tobaccoville, North Carolina

I don't believe Gov. Schwarzenegger should grant clemency to Mr. Williams. I think it is great that he turned his life around, and rehabilitated himself, as he has proclaimed. But what about the victims? They were not spared their lives, he killed them. This is not about him being a co-founder of a gang. This is about the way he killed innocent people. Their lives can never be returned to them. Put yourself in the shoes of the family members left to mourn, and not in Mr. Williams' shoes. There are thousands of inmates that rehabilitate themselves in prison. Granting him clemency sends out the wrong message.
Sharon, Alexandria, Virginia

I think the death penalty is barbaric; and I think the way in which this man was tried was every bit as barbaric. What can it hurt to reopen this case and take a closer look? Especially with the technology and forensic tools at our disposal in this day and age? Let Tookie live, let him continue his good work, and be thankful for all he has achieved thus far. The lives he has saved may be yours, or perhaps your children's. What many do not understand is that for this man to debrief authorities on gang-related matters, he'd be dead a lot quicker than any execution date. At this point he has nothing to lose. Why, after 24 years, would a man still proclaim innocence if he were guilty?
Theresa, Walkerton, Ontario

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