Death Penalty

Troy Davis and our Justice System

I am dumbfounded at the decision today by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to NOT allow Troy Davis clemency. His execution is set for tomorrow, September 21, 2011, and it seems his chances for yet another stay of execution are slimming, despite the intense attention Davis’s situation has received over the past few weeks.In an amazing display of the ways in which social media can motivate scores of people, groups such as Amnesty International, anti-death penalty groups, and other human rights and religious organizations have managed to gather over 1million signatures to be taken to the Board to petition them to spare Davis’s life. Unfortunately, despite these signatures and the cries of such individuals as Former President Jimmy Carter, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Norman Fletcher, and Pope Benedict XVI, the Board has decided to allow what is effectively a state-sanctioned lynching.It was a failure in the justice system that put Davis here. As Nation reporter, Dave Zirin, puts it in his article “Tomorrow, Georgia Murders Troy Davis,” he says that while Davis has maintained his innocence from day one, “He was the wrong color, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong bank account and the wrong legal team, so he was thrown into the death house with little fanfare.” After all, death penalty cases are, more often than not, racially and socio-economically skewed, with more death sentences being handed out when the victim is white, the person on trial is a minority, and the person has little finances for decent legal council. And it is a gross miscarriage of justice that keeps Davis on death row, as the evidence for his innocence mounts.

But Davis’s innocence is really not the issue here. What does matter is that there is simply too much doubt of the man’s guilt for him to be executed. Davis’s conviction is for the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia officer, Mike MacPhail. Davis was put in jail because of nine eye-witness testimonies that placed him at the shooting, seven of which have since recanted their testimonies entirely. One jury member that convicted Davis even stepped forward to the Board and told them she would not have convicted him, given what she knows now. Additionally, three jurors have signed affidavits saying the same thing. Aside from the eye-witness testimonies, there was and is no evidence linking Davis to the murder.

For Davis, the options are slimming. Quickly. The Supreme Court could intervene in the case or the Board could withdraw its death warrant, after all, they permitted a stay of execution three times previously. What is likely is that regardless of the outcome of this particular case, the American people are beginning to lose faith in the justice system and its flaws are becoming more and more apparent. As Troy sits in his cell, waiting out what may be his final hours, the conversation on the death penalty in America seems to be changing. Perhaps this will lead to a final moratorium on state-sanctioned murder in the United States. I just hope that Troy Davis’s life isn’t lost before that happens.

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5 thoughts on “Troy Davis and our Justice System

  1. Pingback: Just Test the DNA: On Willie Jerome Manning and the Death Penalty | Crash Culture

  2. Pingback: Just Test the DNA: On Willie Jerome Manning and the Death Penalty | HumanRightsPA

  3. Pingback: PADP » Just Test the DNA: On Willie Jerome Manning and the Death Penalty

  4. Pingback: Just Test the DNA: On Willie Jerome Manning and the Death Penalty | Raging Chicken Press

  5. Pingback: Willie Jerome Manning and the Death Penalty » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

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