Monday, December 12, 2005

Vengeance...

This bitch was thrilled to see a comment from a certain Neil at AMP! Loyal readers will know that AMP is a favorite bitch haunt…located on the Manchester strip, they have yummy drinks, fantastical music and comfy couches for my ass to lounge on. What could be better?

Mr. Brian has requested video blogging of a bitch’s Ann Coulter skit, which has yet to be written but will be performed during the festivities of AngryBlackBitchfest 2006. Hmmm…well a bitch will make every effort to make that video thing happen. Oh, the stress!

Moving forward…

2 cups coffee with healthy portions of 1% organic milk and Splenda, 1 Claritin, 2 real Sudafed scored by a bitch’s sister in NYC (thank Gawd) and cigs…

Tookie Williams, the founder of the Crips gang who is facing execution tomorrow in California, has been denied a stay by the California Supreme Court. Williams’ execution has sparked a lot of debate and media coverage. Celebrities and activists have taken up the cause, hoping to save Tookie Williams from California’s death chamber.

A lot has been said about Mr. Williams’ redemption. He has written several books targeted to children and young adults, which encourage them to not get involved in the gang lifestyle. His work has been widely acclaimed.

A bitch is as conflicted about this story as my ass is about the death penalty. My primary concern regarding the death penalty is…well, really a bitch has several concerns.

We know that some innocent people have been released from death row as a result of the work of groups like the Innocence Project. Missouri is facing our own horrific drama, as the case of an executed man is reviewed due to evidence that may prove he was wrongly convicted of the crime.

We know that the criminal justice system is flawed. A bitch remembers a case in Texas where a man hacked his wife to death in her kitchen in front of her young chil’ren. He was given a life sentence…in a state that executes multiple inmates in one night. But he had more money than Gawd, a great legal team and all the advantages those things provide. He is also guilty as sin of committing a horrific crime for which Texas supposedly has no tolerance of. His life sentence makes all of the death sentences seem bizarre…why not him? This also bothers the hell out of me.

A bitch feels that the death penalty is not a deterrent. But it is vegeance. A bitch has to be honest...harm one of mine and this bitch can't imagine not seeking vengeance. My ass also can't imagine ever feeling whole again.

To the touchy issue of redemption.

Karla Faye Tucker was executed by the state of Texas for crimes she admitted committing. She gained international media attention because she had changed radically while in prison. She found religion and began to participate in a ministry. And people were uncomfortable killing her after this radical change.

Many death penalty supporters came out with the same sound bites regarding Karla Faye Tucker that my ass now hears regarding Tookie Williams.

Her conversion is bullshit.

His redemption is a calculated move.

Her faith is in question.

His work with youth isn’t enough.

This bitch is uncomfortable questioning the legitimacy of a person’s redemption in these situations. It comes across as if a person might be spared the death penalty if he or she could prove that their redemption was legitimate…and how does one prove that they have been redeemed? And why make that argument when, in reality, you have no intention of treating an inmate differently should they be redeemed or not?

This debate over the validity of an inmate’s redemption really goes to the core. Many Americans view prison as a place to rehabilitate. Others view prison as a place where freaks can be locked away and society protected. And still others view prison as the problem.

But does redemption hold a place in the death penalty debate? When a person is sentenced to death isn’t society saying that nothing they do will ever redeem them and that no level of redemption will ever spare them?

And, if that’s what society is saying, is that right?

Is it just?

A bitch is going to go out on a limb here. The death penalty has nothing to do with justice. There is no justice in the death penalty for a murdered loved one. And there is no justice in the death penalty for devastated communities.

But there is vengeance.

So, the question becomes...is vengeance the duty of the state?

Or, as the God Book says, is vengeance the Lord's?

Shit...what the fuck are we trying to accomplish here? And, after 1000 executions, why the hell havn't we accomplished it yet?

This shit is why a bitch didn't go to law school...

18 comments:

flamingbanjo said...

I would really like to see some consistency out of the "Pro-life" crowd on this one. I've noticed that a lot of those people who claim that life is so precious to them (cough*Terri Schiavo*cough) don't seem to flinch about encouraging the state to execute people. I'm not ordinarily a big fan of the Catholic church's "pro-life" stance, but at least on the issue of the death penalty they're consistent.

At the end of your post is the question I wish was front and center in all discussions of the criminal justice system: What are we trying to accomplish? Given that we know that there is no apparent correlation between use of the death penalty and reduced violent crime, the arguments about it being a deterrent seem pretty hollow. I think you nailed it as to the real purpose: vengeance.

Politicians have been riding into office on Dirty Harry-esque get-tough-on-crime rhetoric for at least the last thirty years, which is probably why our incarceration rate in this country is the highest in the world. Even though there is no evidence that a vengeance-based approach to criminal justice leads to anybody really being safer. Even if somebody could show that treating prisoners like human beings, giving them access to drug treatment and counseling and job retraining etc, even if somebody could prove that this would reduce recidivism it would be a tough sell because people cling so hard to the need to make them suffer for what they've done.

Which is why I wish more people would start with the question "What are we trying to accomplish?"

Mr. Brian said...

I think I have to agree that I am pretty ambivalent on the death penalty issue. And, like you, the issue is, "What is the real issue here?" And again, like you, I think perhaps the issue truly is vengeance.

Which still poses the question of what to do about violent crime and how to make the punishment fit the crime committed. And of course, to answer that question, I think you were right in asking, "What are we trying to accomplish?"

Excellent!

Hammer said...

Hey ABB! I love this post. I love the comment too that the Pro-Life groups need to be a little consistent on this issue. Do we get to decide what life has value?

So, I stick to a simple philosophy regarding the Death penalty...I remember watching a 'injectable death' on TV as a kid...In my opinion, it's wrong, defeats the purpose of justice and does more damage than good...

The simple philosophy comes from Ghandi...

"an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

Do the benefits of executing a murderer out-weigh what we could learn from not executing? And, as you mentioned, rehabilitation is the point of prison...right?

So, are some people unable to change? Everyone, in my opinion, can change. It's nature. It's life. Why wouldn't we give them the chance?

I don't know. I don't know if it's our job to murder murderers...seems wrong to me..."Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones, there is something in this (richness) that I hate." --Elinor Wylie

I hope some day people will learn to move beyond what they have done and grow. I know someday this will happen, I just wish it could be sooner than later.

As for Tookie, I don't see much of a difference between him and say, Noriega; Bush; General Galtiere or any other militant leader. Do I think it's right? of course not.

So, in summary, the death penalty needs to be abolished. Even for those most 'unforgivable' crimes.
We as a global community need to rise above violent justice. Rise above revenge.

And to Tookie

"There is Peace down the River, There is Peace on the way!"

In peaceful struggle

Progressive Puritan

It's Me, Maven... said...

I feel if there is any doubt as to Mr. Williams' innocence or guilt, but there is enough evidence to warrant him remaining in jail on a life sentence, that's enough doubt as to putting him to death. I'm all for commutation of his sentence, if that is the case.

There's a great article at The Village Voice regarding this:
http://villagevoice.com/news/0550,cooper,70915,2.html

Take a look at Charles Manson, the most they got him on was circumstantial evidence, he had others do his bidding, and he'll probably never see the light of day as a free man again.

If there is a shred of doubt, shouldn't Tookie be given the same consideration?

PS: I don't think that writing anti-gang books should be even taken into consideration in the clemency process; much like convicts who become born again. It shouldn't matter at all. What should matter is the evidence on hand and interpretation of the law.

CanEragon said...

Growing up in the U.S. and seeing what I did in 34 years (was alot) about crime and the death penalty, was informing. But when I moved to Canada, and took a moral ethics class, I had to really think hard. Things that are illegal in the United States, and punishable by death - are - In Canada are illegal here too, yet we do not use the death penalty here. So you either get a prison term for life OR you get prison with parole. Recently (in the last 6 months) a double murderer served 12 years and got released back into community, which started a near riot. I don't agree with short prison terms, and I have had to reconsider my stance on the death penalty. It is not a deterrent. If people are gonna kill they are gonna kill. Mnay have not learned the lesson about death and killing, so vengance is up to God, not to a legal team or a jury.

Life in prison is a costly venture, like $80,000 + a year for each inmate serving life sentances. So what do we do? Prison systems are overtasked, people are still dying in the streets, and guns are too easily available. In Toronto there have been over 50 shootings this year of YOUTH! And now, in Canada they will try to BAN handguns outright! will that work, who knows. As for myself, I don't see the benefits of the death penalty, if people are not learning deterrence from others deaths. Living in Canada the last 5 years has made me reconsider many things I had strong opinions on when I lived in the states. Stepping outside the safety of the U.S. and seeing things from a different perspective (IE Canadian Living) has changed me in many ways.

"In Prison" conversions are all well and good, but if you killed someone - what does that say? I am surely not God and I should not judge. If you committed a violent and heinous crime then you deserve nothing but the inside of a jail cell for the rest of your life. If youtake a life, you loose your life, that's what I think. Even if here in Canada, we do not employ the death penalty - I strongly disagree with parole for murderers (In ANY case)!

Shark-fu said...

Interesting perspective...A bitch knew that Canada didn't have the death penalty but was unaware of the sentencing differences aside from that.

EB said...

My mother's older brother killed his ex-girlfriend in Virginia, 1982. He also lied about the circumstances of the murder (that he had achieved sexual release, etc.) in order to make himself sound crazy so that he wouldn't be sentenced to death.

The family of his ex-girlfriend actually asked that his life be spared... but it didn't make any difference. He was executed by electric chair in December of 1992, when I was 8 years old.

My uncle left behind two sons, a sister, a father, two nieces, a nephew, and countless cousins. His execution has affected our family just as much as a random murder might have... Nobody can really forget the fact that the government put him to death despite pleas for his life by the very people who should have WANTED vengeance. And people witnessed it like it was a fucking circus show--according to the governor, there are something like 140 applications on file at any given time. "Hey kids, let's go watch a man die!"

Yes, his actions were deplorable, and yes, he should have remained in prison for the rest of his life. But those he left behind are undoubtedly more fucked up than they would have been if he hadn't been 'legally' murdered.

Like Ghandi said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind... my family has suffered, as well. Nobody won, and nobody felt justified when it was all over.

Shark-fu said...

EB...thank you. Sincerely.

Ellen said...

I am a lurker - but I want to comment to EB. I have been thinking alot about the collateral damage people do to other people: for "causes", for other people (or "against" them too)

I do hope you and yours have been able to heal from this damage. You did nothing to deserve the piece of you that must have died as a result of this.

Nancy in NYC said...

The one thing I know for sure about the death penalty is that it will be applied to people of color disproportionately by politicians looking for a quick way to look uber-butch, a la Arnold. Please pardon a bitch for quoting herself:

Statistics outline the grim results of Alabama’s systemic judicial inequities in irrefutable black and white. Its death row population has doubled in the past decade, with an overall death-sentencing rate that is 3-10 times greater than that of other Southern states. Though black people account for only 26% of Alabama’s population overall, nearly 63% of its prisoners are black. Of the 23 people executed in Alabama between 1975 and 2001, 70% were black.http://www.rawstory.com/exclusives/goldstein/EJI_081705.htm

Nancy in NYC said...

Let's try that fucking link once more:

http://www.rawstory.com/exclusives/goldstein/EJI_081705.htm

Anonymous said...

This bitch did go to law school but is no closer to you than figuring it out.

*In a perfect world* prison would be about rehabilitation. Drug rehab programs would be standard going in and coming out. Job training would be mandatory. Gainful employment, community service, and social counseling would be required parole conditions.

We get into trouble when it's solely prison-as-deterrent. Many people come to think of it as a lifestyle, some deterrent, huh?

And when it comes to prison as retribution, that helps no one. I can think of few worse things than a life sentence. With the possible exception of being the person whose job it is to carry out the death sentence. To bastardize a Vietnam slogan, killing for law and order is like fighting for peace or f***ing for chastity.

I'm not absolutely opposed to the death penalty, but I think that morally it makes us no better than the person being executed. That's where I find the problem: it's a matter of hypocrisy.

ABLawStudent said...

Yeah what unknown said. In the first year crim law class they teach you that there are certain reasons for punishment with the main one being deterance from future crimes by the rest of society...killing a 50 year old man will not deter another person from committing a murder in compton b/c they dont care about the value of life. It will only serve to give someone vengence. I hurt so you die. Think about how dangerous that reasoning can be....

Susan D. said...

In my opinion, an individual can commit such atrocities that s/he has essentially given up her/his right to live - no longer entitled to the air s/he breathes and the space s/he occupies. The problem in giving effect to this is, of course, how do we know for sure that we've got the right person? If there's no doubt (and when is there ever no doubt?) then conversion is irrelevant, isn't it? A killer's conversion can't bring back his/her victims... But in Tookie Williams' particular case, I think the Governator did the right thing by not pardoning him. The message sent would be that if you can get enough big-name stars on your side then you can escape the consequences of your actions. What about poor Joe/Jane Schmo on death row who has no chance of attracting such celebrity backers?

I'm as conflicted on the issue of the death penalty in America as most everyone else. But I feel certain that the determining factor shouldn't be how many rich famous folk take up your cause.

Homer said...

Someday soon there will be a case where an executed person will be shown to have been innocent. I predict that all hell will break loose and (hopefully) the death penalty will be abolished.

Anonymous said...

I think when you kill a person(s) in cold blood, the death sentence is appropriate. And soon. NOT 20 fucking years later. Life is about choices. Someone decides to pull a trigger or hit someone over the head with a bat in a 7-11 and I decide I’d rather have my tax money spent on people who can’t afford food or medicine. A murderer makes his value of human life known when he kills somebody else. And I also have the option to choose the list of values concerning human life. If you kill somebody in cold blood, I will put the people that need to eat and need medicine in front of your sorry ass when I can. No dental work for you.

The innocent humans murdered in cold blood and their families deserve to know that our LEGAL system will insure that a murderer will not be allowed to watch TV and eat spaghetti while their loved one lies six feet under. And the next idiot going into a store to rob it with a gun, knife or bat, need to know that if one person ends up dead, that their “E” ticket to ride this fabulous planet Earth is gone.

Cold Blood=Death Sentence; not Cold Blood=a WHOLE other discussion. Rehabilitation? For Cold Blood? Not even worth considering.

I’m DONE. With anybody taking one wrong step towards another human with the INTENT of doing wrong, and following thru. I’m DONE. FUCK YOU. Our society is going to hell in a hand basket because we won’t stand up and say what you did is wrong. You made another human pay for your wrong with their life’s blood. So, asshole, you’re outta here. We’re all a bunch of fucking hypocrites.

Oh, the life of a murderer is more precious than that of the human life they just ended. Give me a fucking break. A cold blooded murderer is not worth the money spent every year on their upkeep nor the emotional turmoil of parole hearings and knowing they have sunshine on their face. EVER.

And the ‘justice’ and ‘answering to a source bigger than me’ happens NOT in this dimension.

Limecrete said...

I'm generally extremely liberal when it comes to social policy, but not when it comes to the death penalty. I guess you could call me pro-death. Pro-right-to-die, pro-choice, pro-assisted-suicide, pro-death-penalty.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind," is a wonderfully poetic statement, but that doesn't make it true. There are certain crimes committed that I feel do deserve the death penalty, namely intentional murder, people who are a danger to others and are beyond rehabilitation (including, forgive me, the mentally ill - I don't feel being sick excuses one from being punished for murder), and people who show a callous disregard for human life.

EB said...

...like President Bush?