I sincerely want justice for Tookie Williams: Justice for Mr. Williams, a convicted murder of four people, would be death by lethal injection on Dec. 13 in California’s San Quentin State Prison.

Here is Rich Lowry’s description of Murder Number One:

“Williams committed his first murder while robbing a 7-Eleven with three associates in 1979. Williams ordered Albert Owens into a storage room in the back of the store. He made him lie down, then fired two rounds into his back. The barrel of the gun was so close to Owens that the pathologist said one of the wounds was ‘a near contact wound.’ Owens had offered no resistance, and Williams later mimicked the dying Owens with gurgling sounds. The robbery netted $120, or $30 per robber.”

It gets, if possible, worse after that. But, as Lowry reports, saving Williams from his just punishment is “the fashionable cause of the moment:”

“Williams took up writing anti-gang children’s books in prison, and a phalanx of celebrities urge clemency for him, including Snoop Dogg (who beat his own murder rap in 1996), Bianca Jagger, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is meeting with Williams’s lawyers on Dec. 8. The pro-Williams website savetookie.org blares, ‘Arnold – do the right thing for the children!’

“All this agitation is on behalf of a man whose bestial specialty was the close-range shotgun blast. Williams continues to maintain his innocence, making him the least-convincing high-profile murderer since Scott Peterson. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has issued a detailed rebuttal to Williams’s petition for executive clemency that should strip off whatever tawdry sheen attaches to this latest fashionable cause.”

I have a special thing about Mr. Williams-he won the old Women’s Quarterly’s False Courage Award some years ago. Mr. Williams was honored with The Susan Sarandon Golden Hacksaw Award.

Here is the TWQ citation:
“STANLEY ‘TOOKIE’ WILLIAMS says his life has ‘changed totally’ since he entered San Quentin. A founder of Los Angeles’ notorious Crips gang, Tookie joined with journalist Barbara Becnel to produce several books designed to teach kids about the evils of gangs. Tookie’s newest book, Life in Prison, has received kudos from the American Library Association. When Tookie, who has entertained Winnie Mandela and other celebrity admirers, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Becnel described her protege as ‘wide-eyed like a child and really excited.’ Unable to see how much Tookie has ‘grown,’ prosecutors snipe that articles about him often fail to mention that he murdered four people, allegedly schemed to kill a prison guard, and appears to be in firm control of the Blue Note Crips, the L.A. gang’s San Quentin arm.”

As Dorothy Parker once said: “Tonstant Weader fwowed up.” 

I’m skeptical, but I hope Mr. Williams has changed. But that doesn’t change the requirements of justice.  Texas hacking murderer Karla Faye Tucker seems to have had a genuine conversion to Christianity in prison. But she still owed the state her life for the pickax murders of her ex-lover, Jerry Lynn Dean, and his companion, Deborah Thornton. (I had reservations about executing Tucker because she was a woman-but an undeniably chivalrous cousin in Texas convinced me that people who cut up other people into tiny bits deserve to die.)

Here is Lowry’s final thought on justice for Mr. Williams”

“No one should discount the power of redemption. But redemption begins not with fine sentiments and celebrity friends, but with repentance. Stanley Williams is a liar who hasn’t yet taken responsibility for his horrific crimes. He deserves justice, and is scheduled to get it on Dec. 13.”