On September 21st, 2011, the state of Georgia will execute Troy Davis, a man convicted of murder in 1991. Despite calls for clemency and massive doubts of his guilt, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied him and he scheduled to be executed in less than a day. Davis’ guilt has been questioned and put into doubt by revelations of the trial that include witnesses for the prosecution being strong-armed and pressured by the police to ID Davis; seven of the nine original witnesses had all changed their statements in subsequent hearings after the initial trial; a host of diverse figures including the pope, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Pres. Jimmy Carter and former FBI director, William S. Sessions, Bianca Jagger and Nobel Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu have all called for clemency for Davis.
Each time there is a high-profile execution both sides of the debate come out, dukes raised. Death penalty proponents argue that the only just punishment for taking someone’s life in cold blood is execution. Opponents point out that the death penalty is a) expensive b) racially and socio-economically biased c) immoral and d) irreversible.
Whatever one’s position about the morality of capital punishment may be, no one should be willing to kill innocent people to mete out questionable justice. In Davis’ case, there are problems with his trials which not only include the inconsistencies listed in the first paragraph, but also he was at a severe disadvantage because he didn’t have access to a competent defense. Budget cuts to the Georgia Resource Center (that was handling Davis’ case) also further exasperbated Davis’ inability to mount a fair and decent defense against the charges.
So with all these looming question marks in the air, the state of Georgia is still planning on killing Troy Davis on September 21st. I have always maintained that captial punishment is wrong on a moral level. I do so because I don’t believe that if the guilt of an inmate is unequivocal, he deserves to die. Still, in this specific case, I have to move closer toward the arguments against capital punishment that highlight the risk of executing innocents, as the immorality of capital punishment seems to worry few too many people.
Troy Davis’ conviction was fraught with inconsistencies and questions and as a result, he deserves clemency and another trial. He doesn’t deserve to die.