By most indications, Tookie Williams is a changed man since he played a key role in helping turn the Crips into a vicious street gang and was convicted of personally killing four innocent people in cold blood. But since those murders in 1979, it’s clear that Williams has changed, which is why the question of whether he deserves a reprieve from his scheduled Dec. 13 execution has sparked such a heated debate. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must wrestle with this tough question during Williams’ clemency hearing on Thursday. So far, Williams has claimed he was wrongly convicted, but now that his legal appeals are exhausted, his best chance could be to throw himself on the mercy of the public and the governor by owning up to what happened and pleading for clemency. Since 1993, Williams has become an unlikely champion of peace, writing a number of children’s books urging kids to avoid the gang life. His supporters argue that he has redeemed himself, and if spared, he could continue to be a positive influence for inner-city kids. It’s a compelling, but flawed, argument, because lacking in Williams’ otherwise inspiring story of redemption is a critical ingredient: Contrition. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Williams has never expressed remorse for the four lives he claimed. Nor has he admitted his guilt, even though the overwhelming evidence against him has withstood numerous legal challenges. It’s possible that his decision to maintain his innocence has been dictated by legal necessity. While fighting to overturn his death sentence, lawyers most likely advised him that admitting guilt would sink his prospects. But the time for legal wrangling is over. Williams no longer stands to gain from claiming he was framed. Far from it – his continued denials undermine his claims to being rehabilitated and deserving of a second chance, even if it means spending the rest of his life in prison. If Williams wants to convince Schwarzenegger and all Californians that he is sincere, he needs to come clean. He should concede his guilt, beg forgiveness of his victims’ families, and seek mercy from a compassionate state that values redemption, but only if it’s real. If he truly is a changed man, Williams deserves clemency. But a changed man would accept responsibility for all the crimes of his past. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!