MDC Ethical Dilemma Redemption and Capital Punishment Discussion
- For this assignment, consider Ethical Dilemma 1. Redemption and Capital Punishment, p. 677. After reading about Stanley Tookie Williams here, you may watch the movie “Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story.” I found it on YouTube here:Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams StoryThere are several short entries at NPR.org that you can listen to here:The Execution of Stanley Tookie Williams: NPRFor your reflection log assignment, answer the questions on p. 677 in at least a full paragraph:Should Williams’ sentence have been commuted to life in prison? Why or why not? Is redemption compatible with justice? If a murderer mends his ways, should this change have an effect on his punishment? Is mercy compatible with justice?
O results in this section
1. Redemption and Capital Punishment
In 2005, 51-year-old Stanley Tookie Williams, convicted murderer and Crips gang co-
founder, was executed by the State of California. His many supporters—including
celebrities such as Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg-denounced the execution as unjust
because while in prison he had sought and found redemption. As one report says,
The case became the state’s highest-profile execution in decades. Hollywood
stars and capital punishment foes argued that Williams’ sentence should be
commuted to life in prison because he had made amends by writing children’s
books about the dangers of gangs and violence.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected Williams’ plea for clemency on the grounds
that Williams was not genuinely remorseful about the Crips’ killings. Williams was
convicted of murdering four people—a 26-year-old store clerk and a couple and their
43-year-old daughter. At the trial, witnesses said he bragged and laughed about the
The Associated Press quoted Williams saying, “There is no part of me that existed
then that exists now.”*
Suppose Williams was guilty of the murders for which he was convicted, and suppose he had
a genuine change of heart and performed many commendable deeds while in prison. Should
Williams’s sentence then have been commuted to life in prison? Why or why not? Is
redemption compatible with justice? If a murderer mends his ways, should this change have
an effect on his punishment? Is mercy (giving someone a break) compatible with justice
(giving someone what he deserves)?