The more I learned about capital punishment, the more I was moved to the position that no state, no government, no authority, has the right to execute any human being. The more I learned, the more the exceptions and conditions faded away. The more I learned, the more the simple fact of the state's authority to kill appeared bizarre, barbaric, inhumane and unjust. For this reason, I highly recommend Prejean's excellent book.
Over a wide range of opinions on capital punishment, most of us agree that a person who has not committed the crime of which he or she is accused should not be executed! Most reasonable people agree that if there are serious doubts about someone's guilt, we must err on the side of doubt. That seems pretty clear.
Yet for many people, it isn't. If the state says a man must die, then die he must, whether or not he's committed the crime. That's the same state that the very same people are happy to condemn as lying, incompetent "elites".
I'm sure you've heard about the "death penalty cheer" at the recent Republican Convention. This column by Peter Catapano in the New York Times is a good round-up and analysis of some reaction to that chilling cheer. It includes quotes from (and links to) Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Marie Diamond, as well as some right-wing apologists. Worth reading.
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The purpose of this post isn't to argue about the death penalty. The purpose is to try to help save a man's life. Click here, or read more below.
From Amnesty International Canada:
The state of Georgia is preparing to execute a man despite serious doubts that remain about his guilt.
A Georgia judge has signed a death warrant in the case of Troy Davis, authorizing the state to execute him in the week of 21 to 28 September. Doubts persist about Troy Davis’ guilt in the crime for which he was sentenced to death two decades ago.
The county judge signed the death warrant of Troy Davis on 6 September. The Georgia Department of Corrections will set the actual date and time for the execution. The Department’s usual strategy is to set it on the first day authorized under the warrant, in this case 21 September.
Troy Davis was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. No physical evidence directly links him to the murder – no murder weapon was ever found. The case against Troy Davis primarily rested on witness testimony. Since his trial, seven of nine key witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony, some alleging police coercion.
In 2009, the US Supreme Court ordered a federal evidentiary hearing to review Troy Davis’ innocence claim. At the 2010 hearing, US District Court Judge William Moore addressed whether Troy Davis could show “by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in the light of the new evidence” that had emerged since his 1991 murder trial. Under this “extraordinarily high” standard, Judge Moore wrote in his August 2010 opinion, “Mr Davis is not innocent”. Elsewhere in his ruling, he acknowledged that the new evidence presented by Troy Davis cast “some additional, minimal” doubt on his conviction, and that the state’s case was not “ironclad”. In 1991, the jury had found Troy Davis guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Moore noted, “but not to a mathematical certainty”.
In 2007 Troy Davis was less than 24 hours from execution when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay. The Board said that it would not allow an execution to go ahead “unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused”. Since then Troy Davis has faced two more execution dates, both in 2008, which were stayed by the courts.
Click here to send an urgent message to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Troy Davis and commute his death sentence.