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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » How can you earn redemption if you won't admit you did wrong?

   
Author Topic: How can you earn redemption if you won't admit you did wrong?
Strider
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I'm sure there's another thread about this somewhere, but all I really want to focus on is this part of that situation, regardless of your views on the death penalty.

Tookie Williams wanted clemency. Said that he was reformed or redeemed or whatever. But at the same time refused to admit he had committed the crimes he was in prison for. So I ask the question in my thread title again. How can you earn redemption if you won't admit you did wrong?

For this reason I stand by the governators decision. If Tookie has just said, "I know what I did was wrong. I feel deep sorrow and have spent my years here trying to do as much good as I can." I would've been all for allowing him to live out his years in prison. Because it's not an issue of innocence. I'm sure he's guilty of the crimes he's in jail for, as well as probably a whole lot more. It's a matter of accepting responsibility for your actions. What would be the justification for granting clemency when he was firm in his statement that he was innocent? The only reason, as I see it, to then grant clemency is if there was reason to believe he WAS in fact innocent. Which I don't think there was.

And this is hard for me because I DO believe in redemption, and rehabilitation. I DON'T believe our prison system is anywhere near being the best way to "punish" criminals and I also do have some serious issues with the death penalty. But even given all that I still agree with the decision to not grant clemency. Admit you did it! Admit it was wrong! Show that you feel regret and sorrow for your actions!

Maybe I don't know all the facts. But that's the way I see it.

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Lalo
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quote:
Because it's not an issue of innocence. I'm sure he's guilty of the crimes he's in jail for, as well as probably a whole lot more. It's a matter of accepting responsibility for your actions.
If he did, he should accept that he should die.

Honestly, read up on some of the bastard's crimes. I'm from East LA, okay? I went to (Catholic, by the grace of god) high school in South-Central. If I didn't have a private education, do you know my chances of getting out of that neighborhood? Williams and the gang culture he helped create have shattered exponentially more lives than they've killed -- let the bastard fry, and damn the media for trying to martyr him.

Here's a snippet of what he did to one immigrant family, read it.

quote:
The Yang Family

The Yang family, who were immigrants from Taiwan, included husband Yen-Yi Yang and wife Tsai-Shai Yang who were well above their sixties. One of their children, Yee-Chen Lin had recently joined them from Taiwan. The family worked together operating and maintaining a motel called the Brookhaven in South Central Los Angeles.

According to court transcripts at approximately 5:00 am on March 11, 1979, Stanley Williams entered the Brookhaven Motel at 10411 South Vermont Avenue. After entering the public lobby area, Williams broke down the door that led to the private office. Once inside the private office, Williams, using his shotgun, killed 76 year old Yen-I Yang; Williams also killed Yang’s wife, sixty-three year old Tsai-Shai Yang; lastly, Williams killed Yang’s daughter, 43 year old Yee-Chen Lin. Williams then removed the currency from the cash register and fled the location.

Robert Yang, son of Yen-Yi and Tsai-Shai, was asleep with his wife in their bedroom at the Brookhaven Motel when he was woken by the sound of somebody breaking down the door to the motel’s office. This sound was immediately followed by the sound of his mother or sister screaming, followed by gun shots. When Robert entered the motel office he found his mother, his sister, and his father had all been shot. Robert observed that the cash register was open and money was missing. It was later determined that the robbery of the Brookhaven Motel and the murder of the three members of the Yang family netted Stanley Williams approximately one hundred dollars.

According to the forensic pathologist, Yen-I Yang suffered two shotgun wounds. One shotgun wound was to his left arm and abdomen. This wound shredded Yen-I’s left arm, fractured his ribs, and shattered his spleen, right kidney, bowel and large vessels. The other shotgun wound was to the lower left chest. This wound also fractured ribs and shattered the spleen, right kidney, bowel and large vessels. Moreover, a plastic shotgun shot container and associated wadding were recovered from the base of Yen-I’s liver. The pathologist further explained that both of the Yen-I Yang’s wounds were inflicted when the end of the muzzle was only feet from Yen-I’s body.

Yee-Chen Lin was shot once in the upper left face area at a distance of a few feet. She was transported from the scene by paramedics to Centinela Hospital where she died at 7:36 am.

Tsai-Shai was shot twice at close range. The pathologist explained that one shotgun wound was to the coccyx or tail bone. Based on the physical characteristics of the wound and the fact that wadding, along with the plastic shot container, were recovered just beneath the skin of this wound, the muzzle of the gun must have been just inches from her body when she was shot and killed. The other shotgun wound was to the anterior abdomen with the charge entering at the navel. At trial, the pathologist testified that the muzzle of the gun was a few feet from Tsai-Shai’s body when the shot that caused this wound was fired. Williams referred to the victims in conversations with friends as "Buddha-heads", although there was no evidence that the murders were religiously motivated.

Williams was convicted of the murders of all four individuals and sentenced to death. In addition, associates in prison recall him claiming to have murdered police. He is also believed to have ordered killings inside the prison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Williams

Then tell me he should have lived for as long as he did.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Pst... It says they were from Taiwan, not Korea.
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Paul Goldner
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"Then tell me he should have lived for as long as he did."

Yup. He should have lived for as long as he did, and longer. Fortunately, this execution was not carried out in my name, as it was not carried out by a government that has me as a constituent. But I don't believe that we should use the death penalty. I abhor what he did. And I abhor what we did to him.

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luthe
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Pst... It says they were from Taiwan, not Korea.

That really not the point, all that matters is that they were "not from here"
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tern
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I don't believe that it is possible to earn redemption without admitting that one has done wrong.

"I didn't kill those people, and anyway - I've changed."

Changed from what? If you didn't kill them, what did you have to change? Precisely what are you "redeemed" from?

We understand repentance, the process of receiving redemption to have five steps.

1. Feel sorrow
2. Admit you have done wrong
3. Ask forgiveness
4. Seek restitution
5. Never do it again

I don't think Tookie ever did the first step - but he certainly stopped before the second. And because his repentance was incomplete, he could not have changed nor received forgiveness.

That's my LDS view on things, carefully avoiding debate of the death penalty.

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LadyDove
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Did Tookie admit to any murders?
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quidscribis
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You know, my mother pulled crap like this. "Why don't you just get over it already, and besides, we didn't do anything wrong!" was a familiar cry of hers when I tried talking to her about how badly she treated me. Well, either you did something wrong, or there's nothing to get over. It can't be both, and certainly not in the same sentence.

Some people lack logic.

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Strider
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LadyDove, as far as I know, NO.
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katharina
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I agree, Strider - if someone trying to justify themself, then they haven't changed.
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TomDavidson
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Would we feel differently if he were in fact innocent of these specific crimes?
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Strider
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innocent of these specific crimes but still guilty of others?
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TomDavidson
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Yep.
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katharina
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As evil as he is, he isn't worth poisoning the system by executing him for the wrong crimes.

I doubt that happened, though.

And it wouldn't change my skeptisism of his alleged reformation.

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boogashaga
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Does anybody know any "drunk drivers?" These people scare me when they publically confess to driving an awful lot while "drunk." I guess that it is a good thing for your street image. Anyway, they get caught and ticketed for only one occurance, but they have been "doing it" a lot--generally for years.

Does anybody reading this believe that the recently-executed, convicted killer in California never killed anybody else? If you believe he killed nobody else, do you feel that the people related to those he is convicted of killing are having a wonderfull life without their special loved ones? How would you enjoy YOUR life without your special loved ones?

Some people say that the convicted killer could have done more good for society (through his books, for example) if he had been allowed to live. Perhaps this is true. However, how much good for society would the four people he is convicted of killing have done? How about the others that he maybe killed?

These are tough situations and arouse strong sentiments in many people. I can understand that there are people who do not approve of society ridding itself of murderers (and certain other types of people, say for example "Mormons" in Missouri in the 1800s) by capital punishment. If this is the way they feel, they have a right to voice these feelings, as long as they do so in a respectful, courteous manner. I am all for impassioned dialog on the issues of the day. My personal feelings, in this instance, living in the greater Los Angeles area as I do, raising a family (with daughters) and having to deal every now and then with types of people like the executed man used to be, is that we are probably better off without this gentleman among us.

It gives me no great joy or excitement to write this, so please, no flames. There are probably those who would enjoy writing that society would be better off without ME, also. I respectfully submit that there is a world of difference.

Has anybody heard (or read) about the statement that he gave to a lady before his execution? I have not heard what was in that statement. If someone knows, could you post it? Thanks.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

My personal feelings, in this instance, living in the greater Los Angeles area as I do, raising a family (with daughters) and having to deal every now and then with types of people like the executed man used to be, is that we are probably better off without this gentleman among us.

Would you argue that life in prison is a meaningless sentence, then, and that all such sentences should be "commuted" to execution? Why bother paying for people to live out their lives on our tax dollars?
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BaoQingTian
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quote:
Originally posted by boogashaga:
If you believe he killed nobody else, do you feel that the people related to those he is convicted of killing are having a wonderfull life without their special loved ones?

I fail to see how killing him brings back their loved ones or lessens their pain after more than a quarter century has passed.

Edited: For grammer & clarity

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Dr Strangelove
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Umm, I have nothing really to add on this particular subject, but on the article posted by Lalo ... does the fact its from Wikipedia discount its credibility in anyone's eyes? I haven't researched this particular instance at all so I don't know, but I did just read Chris Bridges new article.
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WntrMute
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
Tookie Williams wanted clemency. Said that he was reformed or redeemed or whatever. But at the same time refused to admit he had committed the crimes he was in prison for. So I ask the question in my thread title again. How can you earn redemption if you won't admit you did wrong?

'Write' a book (with someone else) that sells less than 1,000 copies. Suck up to liberal celebrities. Wait for the ecstatic adulation to pour in like manna from heaven.

That's how you do it.

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EricJamesStone
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quote:
But I don't believe that we should use the death penalty. I abhor what he did. And I abhor what we did to him.
Are they the same level of abhorrence?
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Rico
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My answer to your question:

I don't think someone can redeem themselves without admitting doing wrong. If you honestly believe you have done nothing wrong, what inspires you to change, and what exactly do you change to?

If the desire to change isn't there, then there really isn't any catalyst to bring forth redemption.

Interesting topic [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:

'Write' a book (with someone else) that sells less than 1,000 copies.

See, I keep hearing this -- presumably on the grounds that a book which sells well is more heartfelt -- but I can't find any indication that these sales figures are accurate. Amazon alone seems to have sold more copies of the book than that.
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WntrMute
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I'm sure the book has been selling like hot-cakes since this has been all over the news (#1401, and sinking). Also, I think the 300's figure was how many copies had sold before he was nominated for a Nobel Prize.
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ludosti
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Now admittedly my Christian views color my perspective, but I do not think that anyone can "earn" redemption. Redemption is an act of mercy, not an act of justice.

Is the role of the judicial system to deal out justice or mercy. We seem to espouse a judicial system that tries to meet out justice. It has been decided that death can be an acceptable means of carrying out justice in some criminal cases.

Now, onto the situation of Mr. Williams. He was found guilty for killing these people and received the death sentence. To my knowledge, he never admitted guilt nor expressed remorse for these deaths. Did he actually commit these crimes? Most likely. Did he commit others for which he was not tried? Probably. Is the book he wrote a force for good? Possibly. But none of this really matters. Past wrongs cannot take away from present good. Nor can present good erase past wrongs. He was executed, so that "justice" would be carried out. Will he find mercy or be redeemed? Possibly, in the eyes of some, he has been redeemed. Whether he been redeemed in the Eyes I think matter most is not mine to say.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

We seem to espouse a judicial system that tries to meet out justice.

That's a pretty huge assumption, actually.
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BaoQingTian
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quote:
We seem to espouse a judicial system that tries to meet out justice.
I suspect that when many people in this country hear justice they think punishment. As long as justice is equated with punishment, I believe the system is inherently flawed.
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ludosti
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Hence the caveats like "seem" and "tries". The very fact that we call it a "judicial system" points to its connection with justice. Whether justice is in fact achieved is another matter altogether.
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jeniwren
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Someone can experience a great deal of remorse and regret, and act out of those feelings (resulting in good works) without admitting that what they did was wrong. Admitting wrongdoing is to put aside pride. Remorse and regret are different emotions than pride, and can be mutually exclusive. In other words, you can have a very proud person who nonetheless is doing all they can to redeem their bad behavior. And who, in all likelihood, cannot understand at all why people don't trust their good works for geniune reformation. They could see their good works as admitting their wrongdoing without having to actually humble to the point of admitting it out loud.
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TomDavidson
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quote:

The very fact that we call it a "judicial system" points to its connection with justice. Whether justice is in fact achieved is another matter altogether.

I would argue that modern incarceration is currently unable to decide whether it's intended to mete out justice or faciliate rehabilitation -- and until that decision is made, it will be unable to do either effectively.
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Strider
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Yes Jeniwren, but we can't see into this man's inner soul. All we have are his words. And his words are to the affect of, "I didn't do it, but I've redeemed myself, so grant me clemency."

Oh and Tom, I agree. I think that's the main problem with our justice system.

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Zalmoxis
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I agree with Tom.

My distrust of (and understanding of the flaws in) the system have brought me to the point where my support of capital punishment is in theory only.

I think that states should reserve the right to apply it as a punishment, but that it should be used even more sparingly than it currently is.

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Dagonee
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quote:
I would argue that modern incarceration is currently unable to decide whether it's intended to mete out justice or faciliate rehabilitation -- and until that decision is made, it will be unable to do either effectively.
A system of incarceration that does not do both will be ineffective at either.

For one thing, rehabilitation cannot often be achieved without coercive, penal force behind it.

Further, I doubt effective rehabilitation (for crimes worthy of imprisonment from a justice perspective) can occur without a conscience desire to accept just, fairly severe (I consider any sort of imprisonment at least a little severe) punishment.

The number one thing preventing our prison system from meting out both justice and rehabilitation is our inability to protect prisoners from rape and assault without the enforcement of draconian liberty restrictions. Part of that is money - people are willing to pay for security measures to keep inmates inside the walls, but not to keep inmates from preying on each other.

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Krankykat
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Strider:
I agree with your original post. Tookie probably did not think what he did was wrong. You know... he is a victim of society.

And Lalo and I agree on something: "damn the media for trying to martyr him."

Krank

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BaoQingTian
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I think if I were incarcerated, I would prefer the draconian liberty restrictions to the alternative. You're liberty is effectively gone anyway. What bothers me the most (after the unofficial punishment in all its forms that goes on in prison) is that felons are felons for life. I don't know what the alternative is, but it seems to negate the point of rehabilitation if a man is still discriminated against in almost every aspect of life 20 years later for a crime he committed at age 20. Looking at it from a convicted felon's perspective, why rehabilitate?
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camus
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quote:
They could see their good works as admitting their wrongdoing without having to actually humble to the point of admitting it out loud.
Personally, if someone is unable to set aside his pride long enough to vocally admit that he was wrong, I would question the sincerity of his "good works." After all, there is quite a difference between regretting what you did and regretting that you got caught.
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erosomniac
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quote:
Would you argue that life in prison is a meaningless sentence, then, and that all such sentences should be "commuted" to execution? Why bother paying for people to live out their lives on our tax dollars?
Yes. Kill them all - every last one of them.
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WntrMute
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
Yes. Kill them all - every last one of them.

Especially those serial jay-walkers and tax defrauders.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Life in prison for jay-walking?
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
What bothers me the most (after the unofficial punishment in all its forms that goes on in prison) is that felons are felons for life. I don't know what the alternative is, but it seems to negate the point of rehabilitation if a man is still discriminated against in almost every aspect of life 20 years later for a crime he committed at age 20. Looking at it from a convicted felon's perspective, why rehabilitate?
This obviously doesn't apply in this case, because he wasn't ever getting out, but I find myself agreeing with you.

I don't think we should judge the entirety of someone's life by their worst moment. I wouldn't want to be judged that way.

But, on the other hand, while I like the idea of rehabilitation I'm just not sure that prison does a very good job of it. In fact, I think it does a horrible job. By gathering all the baddies into their own little cloister they're actually forced to become the worst version of themselves, just to keep from becoming prey. They learn tricks to avoid being caught, they network with like-minded people, and the whole environment reinforces a belief that being a criminal is a normal way of life. "All these guys are just like me, what does society know about being productive. We can't all be wrong."

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