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Statement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Following His Visit With Stanley "Tookie" Williams

by Press Release
CONTACT: Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
Butch Wing, (510) 701-8955
Tracy K. Rice, Esq., (310) 994-8583
WASHINGTON - November 21 - “Today I met with “Tookie” Williams, a man who is scheduled to be killed 17 days from today. We had prayer. At the conclusion of our one and a half hour visit I told him ‘We are going to fight for you and we are going to win.' He told me that his work here is not finished.

The State of California is gearing up its machinery of death based on the assumption of the certainty of this man's guilt. The State has a plan of certainty for his execution. Date certain. Time certain. But there is more uncertainty about his guilt than there is necessity for execution,” Jackson stated.

“Tookie” Williams is a changed man. He stands before Governor Swarzenegger requesting clemency. There are those who state that he should not receive clemency because he has not acknowledged guilt and remorse. But this is not a legal requirement for clemency. It cannot be predicated upon a false or coerced confession of guilt or remorse.

“What is certain is that since 1992, “Tookie” has been a voice reaching out to the voiceless. He has encouraged youth to lift themselves up so as not to end up locked up. His voice has reached impoverished and alienated youth in places police dare not tread. Through his personal transformation in prison, he has brought light to dark places because he knows where to look. He speaks truth to power with a sincere knowledge of what lies ahead for these youth and gives them a stark look at what their future could be if they don't renounce gang life and all that it stands for. And they listen, because he was one of them.

“Tookie Williams personifies what “Redemption” is all about. He has used his time in prison to reach others and save lives. We may not be able to quantify the number of children he has saved, but I am certain that there are children in this country and abroad that would not be here had they not received his powerful message.

"In the days to come we will bear witness to our criminal justice system at its lowest point. As California gears up for the taking of a life, the eyes of the world are upon us. We must kill the idea of killing as a remedy to societal problems and shortcomings. We do not condone “Tookie” Williams past actions, however, the streets of California will be no safer on December 14 th should he be executed. In fact, there is reason to believe that they will be even less safe as those he would have reached in his ongoing efforts to stop children from joining gang life will never hear his message." remarked Jackson.

“Today I have requested a meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger. I will urge him to grant clemency and convert Tookie Williams' sentence to life without possibility of parole. By granting clemency in this case he would be setting an example of courage over cowardice, of humanity over brutality. Commutation in this case would follow in the best traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez. Gov. Swarzenegger has the ability to come down on the right side of history and make it clear by this single act of courage that he remains committed to the principles of justice.

I will also urge the Governor to halt all executions while the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice conducts a thorough study of the state's criminal justice procedures. This Commission was formed by the state Senate in August 2004, “to study and review the administration of criminal justice in California to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past, resulting in wrongful executions of innocent persons.' There should be a moratorium on all executions pending the completion of this official governmental body's investigation,” Jackson declared.

The legislative findings will be presented to the Governor by December 31, 2007.

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