Well, they did it. They actually did it. The state of Georgia actually executed Troy Davis, despite overwhelming evidence that he was innocent.
Well played, jerks.
In case you’ve been cut off from the world by reality TV and unemployment, Troy Davis was convicted of the murder of a Savannah, GA police officer in 1989. But since that time, seven of the nine witness have recanted their testimony. There is no DNA evidence; no murder weapon. Someone else has even confessed. But none of that saved Troy Davis in the end. After the Supreme Court rejected Davis’ appeal, he was killed by the state at 11:08pm Eastern last night. The Guardian has a nice slideshow of the protests and vigils.
The case of Troy Davis will go down in history as a gross miscarriage of justice. But maybe his death will be the catalyst we need to get the death penalty repealed everywhere.
Dahlia Lithwick over at Slate wrote a good piece about how the two sides of the death penalty debate have been talking past each other for years. There is tension between certainty and finality, she argues. People who are pro-death penalty are more concerned with having an end to the judicial process, while anti-death penalty folks want certainty. More and more people aren’t willing to tolerate the “mistakes” (read: killing innocent people) that death penalty supporters inherently will.
I hope this is true. I hope this has galvanized a whole new generation of anti-death penalty activists. And, frankly, it would be awesome if Troy Davis made the death penalty an issue in the presidential election. Texas Governor Rick Perry has presided over more than 200 executions, and said he never lost any sleep over any of them. Slate has another great piece on the problems with the death penalty and the inconsistency of a political party that believes government does everything wrong – except execute people (again by the amazing Dahlia Lithwick). There is one line that sums it up very well:
These same Republicans who are dubious of government’s ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless faith in the capital-justice system. Everything is broken in America, they claim—except the machinery of death.
Maybe Troy Davis will become the symbol for everything that is wrong with the death penalty. His story has resonated with thousand of people around the world. As small a consolation as it may be, hopefully Davis’ death will prevent the deaths of other wrongfully convicted people from suffering the same fate.
Image credit: Human Rights Now