Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'Without atonement, there can be no redemption'

From a statement by the governor of California, in which he explains why he declined to spare Stanley 'Tookie' Williams from the death penalty

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Stanley Williams has been convicted of brutally murdering four people during two separate armed robberies in February and March 1979. Now, his appeals exhausted, Williams seeks mercy in the form of a petition for clemency.

Williams' case has been thoroughly reviewed in the 24 years since his convictions and death sentence, and there is no reason to disturb the judicial decisions that uphold the jury's findings that he is guilty of these four murders and should pay with his life.

The basis of Williams' clemency request is not innocence. Rather, the basis of the request is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends".

Williams claims that he is particularly deserving of clemency because he has reformed and been redeemed for his violent past. Williams protests that he has no reason to apologise for these murders because he did not commit them. But he is guilty.

Williams has written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison. He has also (since 1995) tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking, including a protocol for street peace to be used by opposing gangs. It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams' message.

Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not, and should not, apologise or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption. The one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.

Williams is clearly guilty, and the evidence and clemency materials supporting Williams' claim of personal redemption are equivocal. Therefore, based on the totality of circumstances, Williams' request of clemency is denied.

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