Some of you may recall my earlier post about Tookie Williams, which sparked a small debate on the death penalty. Today, Gov. Schwarzenegger denied his lawyers’ appeal for clemency.

For those of you who don’t know, Tookie Williams was a co-founder of the Crips. Yes, those Crips, as in “Bloods and…”. He was convicted of four murders that took place in 1979, and has been in jail ever since. In that time, he renounced the gang he founded, the principles it stood for, and made himself an active proponent against gangs and street crime. There were rumours that he was being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize at one point, and he wrote a series of children’s books, promoting an anti-gang message.

In his statement, Schwarzenegger said:

“The possible irregularities in Williams’ trial have been thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the courts, and there is no reason to disturb the judicial decisions that uphold the jury’s decisions that he is guilty of these four murders and should pay with his life.”

This is the reason that I am opposed to the death penalty more than anything else. The concept that it is not worth the bother to “disturb” previous rulings to prevent a wrongful death is beyond me. However, I also accept that there comes a point where the justice system can only be abused by demanding repeated hearings. With that in mind, how can the death penalty be supported? I certainly respect that there is a point where justice must be considered as served as possible, but when you cannot give a person every last possible recourse before meting out such a final judgment, how can you prescribe that penalty?

Further, we live in a society where every life is given value – medical science keeps alive those with diseases that evolution selects against for a reason. We do not allow euthanization, even in voluntary situations. No matter how much of a lowlife the person you murdered was, you still murdered them, and that is (at least officially) reprehensible. I don’t agree 100% with these first two, but it underlines the difference – how can we refuse to take the lives of those who beg for death, but deal it freely to those who desire life?

We are not infallible – not our justice, not our judgment, not our morals. Freedom denied can be restored – breath denied, not so. We cannot commit ourselves so heinously in our youth to decisions we might regret in the sagacity of age.