Death Penalty

The Slow Move Toward Abolition

Although it has been happening painfully and slowly, the U.S. is beginning to show promise as capital punishment is becoming less and less favorable throughout the country. A New York Times editorial from Oct. 14, The Death Penalty’s De Facto Abolition, highlighted this positive move forward as the United States struggles to catch up with the rest of the world with regards to the death penalty.

“From their annual high points since the penalty was reinstated 35 years ago, the number executed has dropped by half, and the number sentenced to death has dropped by almost two-thirds. Sixteen states don’t allow the penalty, and eight of the states that do have not carried out an execution in 12 years or more.”

We still have far to go, however. As many people are aware, September marked a very dark day for the U.S., when Georgia decided to execute Troy Anthony Davis, a man who spent many years on death row and was finally killed on September 21, 2011, despite too much doubt about his case. On that same day, Lawrence Brewer, a man convicted of the most henious of hate crimes whose guilt was not under question, was also executed in Texas, marking the 475th execution in the state since 1976 when the death penalty was re-instated.

In Pennsylvania, we have a lot of work to do as well. Pennsylvania currently has 219 people on death row, and, while PA has only executed 3 individuals since 1976, the death penalty remains a wildly expensive, and racially/socio-economically unbalanced program.

We can take so much, however, from such travesties as the Troy Davis case, just as Troy himself did when he stated to Amnesty International,

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”

Troy and his family never stopped fighting and Troy’s sister, Martina Correia, vowed even after his death to continue the fight against capital punishment in ALL cases. We all, across the planet, fought hard to save Troy’s life and we will continue that fight even in the face of adversity. We will continue to fight for those whose guilt is questioned, like Troy, and even for those, like Lawrence Brewer, whose guilt is clear and whose motives are abhorrent. We will fight for those who have clearly been wronged by the justice system and we will fight for the racist murderer. We will fight for them because we know that no one has the right to take the life of another. Continue this good fight. End the death penalty in Pennsylvania and end the death penalty in the United States.

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