I suspect I'm not alone in supporting the death penalty in some cases (the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crimes) but having many doubts about the way it is implemented. My concerns aren't liberal -- questioning the very legitimacy of capital punishment -- but rather libertarian. It's hard to question the government's competence to do something as simple as paving potholes or hauling garbage and then blithely give it the very power of life and death.
But people like me aren't very moved by the plight of someone like Tookie Williams. His supporters argue that he has been "redeemed," while he himself continues to say, despite the evidence, that he didn't do it in the first place. Even if we accept redemption, we don't have the information we really need to put that fact in perspective: what the people might have done with their lives had they not met death at Williams' hand. Any time the "intellectual elite" or the Hollywood crowd get behind something, we ought to be suspicious anyway. Does the name Jack Abbott ring a bell?
Much more compelling as an anti-death penalty teaching moment is the case of Cory Maye. If the facts are as presented (keep scrolling; there are a lot of posts), there's doubt he should even be in prison, let alone on death row. Why don't the prison-chic people ever take up the cause of somebody like him? Live too far away from the coast, maybe?
UPDATE: Masson's Blog has some thoughts on the subject.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gov. Schwarzenegger denies clemency.