In the case of the People v. Williams, the facts are quite clear. A jury convicted Stanley Tookie Williams of the execution-style murder of 23-year-old Albert Owens during a robbery of a 7-Eleven store in Whittier. The jury also convicted him of murdering the owners of a Los Angeles motel, Tsai-Shai Yang, 62, and Yen-I Yang, 65, and their 42-year-old daughter, Yee Chen Lin, in the course of a robbery two weeks later. The American justice system has been patient and thorough, and its verdict is clear: It is legal, proper and high time that Williams should die.
Many people assume that Jewish law unequivocally advocates capital punishment, because of frequent references to capital crimes and capital punishment in the Torah. But while Jewish law supports the death penalty in theory, the Oral Law makes it difficult, and in most cases impossible, to execute someone for murder, says Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of the Jewish Studies Institute of Yeshiva of Los Angeles and the chair of Jewish law and ethics at Loyola Law School.
"Jews sometimes try to be the conscience of the legislature," says state Rep. Elaine Bloom of Miami Beach, one of the state's most durable Jewish politicians. "But we're losing numbers. They've changed the system."