Compiled by Arturo R. García
Barring a last-minute change, Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST for the murder of a Savannah police officer, despite reports that another person had confessed to the shooting, and seven of the nine witnesses in the original case recanting their testimony.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prison officials denied a request Wednesday morning by Davis’ attorneys to allow him to take a polygraph test. An appeal has also been filed in Butts County, Ga., where the state’s death row is located, seeking a stay of execution, saying new evidence “exposes key elements of the state’s case against Mr. Davis at trial to be egregiously false and misleading.”
Davis’ case has attracted support from around the world, with #TroyDavis and #TooMuchDoubt hashtags becoming trending topics in various U.S. cities, and protests planned not only in the U.S., but in Europe. Supporters are still being urged to contact Chatham County Judge Penny Freeseman, the only person who can stop Davis’ execution.
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. Georgia is prepared to snuff out the life of an innocent man.
- Troy Davis, The Nation
This case has attracted worldwide attention, but it is, in essence, no different from other capital cases. Across the country, the legal process for the death penalty has shown itself to be discriminatory, unjust and incapable of being fixed. Just last week, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Duane Buck, an African-American, hours before he was to die in Texas because a psychologist testified during his sentencing that Mr. Buck’s race increased the chances of future dangerousness. Case after case adds to the many reasons why the death penalty must be abolished.
- New York Times
The recantation of nearly all the witnesses in the case should give even the most serious supporters of the death penalty reason to pause. Whether Davis is innocent or guilty almost takes a backseat to the question of whether the judicial system operated in a way that gave a jury any hope of possibly answering that question in the first place.
Death penalty critics have often pointed out that seeking the death of an individual, even one guilty of heinous crimes, is not justice, its vengeance. Yet even that answer fails to satisfy the questions surrounding the prosecution and planned execution of Troy Davis. Even the vengeful would be unsettled by the true perpetrator of a crime going free while they vent their wrath on the wrong target.
No, what the Davis case indicates is that the death penalty is not a public policy — it is a faith, a belief system, a creed holding that fallible humans have been infallible in discerning guilt from innocence. And like most other true-believers, those who practice the faith of capital punishment are immune to all evidence to the contrary.
The surviving relatives of the slain officer presented a decidedly different front. They resolutely told the news media they believe Davis is a killer who deserves to die for what he did.
“He’s guilty,” MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, said. “We need to go ahead and execute him.”
“What a travesty it would be if they don’t uphold the death sentence, MacPhail-Harris said on Monday after the meeting with the board. “It’s time for justice today. My family needs justice. He was taken from us too soon, too early.”
As for the case presented by Davis’ legal team that Davis was wrongly convicted, she said, “It’s been a lie.”
MacPhail-Harris was flanked by her 23-year-old daughter, Madison MacPhail, and 22-year-old son, Mark MacPhail Jr., who were a toddler and an infant when their father was killed.
“A future was taken from me,” saidMadison MacPhail, unable to hold back tears. “The death penalty is the correct form of justice. … Troy Davis murdered my father, no questions asked.”
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Where is Radiance Foundation co-founder Ryan Bomberger? His group recently erected billboards across Sacramento that say “Fatherhood begins in the womb” and show a black man kissing the stomach of a black woman who appears to be about eight and a half months pregnant. (Given that only 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy and the overwhelming majority of late-term abortions are performed to save the life of the mother, this visual makes zero sense.) Bomberger blames the “abortion industry” and “liberal feminism” for the “nationwide family crisis” of fatherlessness. But is Roe vs. Wade, Planned Parenthood and feminism the problem? Or is it a reckless, racist prison industrial complex that makes the threat of imprisonment so palpable to black men and women that witnesses in cases like Davis’s are willing to “give police what they want” to get the hell out of the station house?
The persistence of such rituals in 2011 is reason enough to question the death penalty. But the racism that underpins it—along with the 138 innocent people released from death row—is the hallmark of a system that Americans increasingly reject as intolerable. This year Illinois, where a Republican governor once commuted 167 death sentences citing doubts over “the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole,” became the fourth state in five years to abolish it. Last year a comprehensive study found that 61 percent of registered voters favored alternatives to executions—and in death penalty states a majority of voters said that an anti–death penalty stance would not deter them from voting for a candidate;â€¨24 percent said such a candidate would be more likely to get their vote.
Such evolving standards of decency were nowhere on display at the Reagan Library when the Republican faithful cheered Governor Rick Perry’s unprecedented execution record—234 then, 235 now—thanks to the bloodlust of a rabid Republican base. But without a strong alternative—a full-throated condemnation of the death machinery that still operates across the country—can opponents really claim the moral high ground?
For years Democratic politicians, whose party once opposed the death penalty, have embraced it as a suitable punishment for the “worst of the worst.” President Bill Clinton, who famously attended the execution of a mentally disabled man while on the campaign trail in 1992, went on to sign the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which greased the wheels of this death machinery by curtailing prisoners’ rights to appeal their sentences. Former Georgia Republican Bob Barr, who helped write that law ostensibly to curb “abusive delays in capital cases,” has since decried its effect—specifically that it has prevented “claims of actual innocence like Troy Davis’s” from being heard in court.
- The Nation
I support the death penalty, and have for a long time. And I am not making a judgment as to whether Davis is guilty or innocent. But surely the citizens of Savannah and the state of Georgia want justice served on behalf of MacPhail, the police officer.
Imposing a death sentence on the skimpiest of evidence does not serve the interest of justice. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles did not honor the standards of justice on which all Americans depend by granting clemency. In doing so, it will allow a man to be executed when we cannot be assured of his guilt.
That was the final admirable principle standing between Davis and his scheduled death by lethal injection Wednesday. And the parole board did not uphold it.
- Former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr, on CNN.com
Troy Davis may be out of options in the justice system but he is not out of options in the realm of humanity and common decency. A life can still be spared and whatever standards or criteria are required by the justice system can be made more humane by way of an executive decision. Executive action is needed now, not an execution.
- Asian Pacific Americans of Conscience (via Angry Asian Man)