Friday, September 23, 2011

I Am Not Troy Davis

But any man of color that I know and love in my life has the potential to be.

For those of you unaware of the happenings that unfolded surrounding this case, Troy Davis was convicted in 1991 of murdering an off duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, in Savanna, Georgia. Davis was sentenced to the death penalty, but for the pass twenty years the state of Georgia has had some issues in fulfilling that punishment. Most of the backlash on this ruling was due to the nature of the way this case was handled; eyewitness accounts were the only substantial evidence that seemed to link Davis to the murder. Setting aside the issues with eyewitness accounts in general, seven out of nine witnesses have since recanted their statements, citing police pressure to convict Davis of the murder. With the remainder of faulty witness accounts, a lack of DNA evidence, and the absence of a murder weapon, many believed that the courts should suspend the death penalty punishment in this case until innocence or guilt could be firmly proven.

Since 1991, Davis' death sentence has been delayed four times. His final execution date was set for September 21, 2011 at 7:00pm but an emergency appeal resulted in the Supreme Court reviewing the case, resulting in a temporary delay. But the courts, for some reason, found it unreasonable to grant a requested lie detector test. Davis was executed at 11:08pm on September 21st.

From the beginning, there has been a movement to reexamine his case. The courts' repeated rejection despite public pressure has opened conversations about the racial implications of these events, seeing as crimes involving a White victim and a Black convict disproportionately result in death penalty sentences. This has also opened up conversation about the use of the death penalty as a deterrent for crime.

Since there was a recent incident during a Republican debate where audience members cheered the death penalty, the events surrounding Troy Davis gives a human face to the issues surrounding our so-called justice system and the communities that directly receive its results. It is beyond time that people start thinking about the way our society handles its seek for justice, especially when there may be so many more Troy Davis' on death row this very moment. This is more than enough reason to think about ways to fix this system.

by Che J. Hatter 

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