Some good discussion today, with various online compatriots.
I'd like to refine what I said earlier, based on some of that discussion.
1) Tookie Williams is not an ideal case to discuss on the basis of redemption. To me, the question of redemption is irrelevant.
It is ineffective to argue that someone redeemed deserves life, for that implies that anyone unredeemed deserves death. Also, when you're talking about "redemption," you're really crossing over the line from the secular to the spiritual, and I don't believe that this Republic was constructed to support that. There is, however, rehabilitation. And there is reparation. Those things make more sense, especially when we are discussing universal human rights, irrespective of religious background.
2) I must conclude that the only viable option for our country to pursue, today, is to abolish the death penalty. Immediately.
Anything like a moratorium, or tinkering with the mechanisms, or fiddling with exceptions, and deciding who deserves what and when -- that's all just rationalizing a practice which is inherently flawed, as human perception is inherently flawed itself. I can no more assume that the government can decide rightly whether I live or die than I can assume that they will correctly settle my next income tax statement.
While I'm on that topic, what's up with mainstream, anti-big government, capital-R republican support for the death penalty? Here, you have the party which proclaims that big government can fuck up a two car parade, yet you can count on them to invest 100% fealty to a system which determines who lives and who dies. Maybe I didn't get the memo, but last time I checked, the courts were something that they didn't trust at all. Why suddenly do they get it right when it comes to disposing of criminals?
3) It was Damien Echols birthday on 12/11. This year marks his 11th in custody since his wrongful conviction (and death sentence) in 1994.
Here's hoping Arkansas can get it right...