I’m squishy on the death penalty. I absolutely think there are people who have revoked their membership card in the human race, and who deserve death as a punishment. Morally, I have no problem with a hypothetical death penalty where only the guilty are so punished, where it’s used only on the worst of the worst, and where it’s administered evenhandedly and humanely.
Of course, that has little to do with the American system of capital punishment, one which gives you several demerits for being poor or non-white, or especially for being a poor non-white who killed someone white. It penalizes you for living in Florida and not Minnesota, penalizes you for living in Texas and not Florida. People still are electrocuted to death. Oh, and the criminal justice system can be at times a Kafkaesque hell that denies the innocent the right of appeal.
Troy Davis is on death row in Georgia, convicted of killing a police officer. He’s due to die in the next forty-eight hours. Seven of the nine witnesses at his trial have recanted their testimony. And yet thanks to federal law, he can’t appeal his sentence; statutorily he cannot introduce new evidence that may exonerate him.
I don’t know whether Troy Davis is guilty or innocent, and frankly, that shouldn’t be for me to decide, or you. But he shouldn’t be put to death with this much potentially exculpatory evidence swirling around. Contact the Georgia Parole Board, and let them know that we’re watching them. And remember that anyone who says we haven’t executed an innocent person is almost certainly lying.