I thought my title could read “Who Is Troy Davis?” while I watched hope interrupt Troy’s execution. But the hope only lasted 4 hours.
A man named Troy Davis was executed on Wednesday, September 22, 2011 at 11:08 p.m. in Georgia. He has been on death row for 22 years for shooting and killing a police officer.
In the last few years, evidence had mounted that he may be innocent. No physical evidence ever existed and 7 of 9 witness recanted their testimony.
I have followed the case for many years, and Amnesty International, along with the Pope, Jimmy Carter, a former head of the FBI and others known and unknown, have been calling for a stay in his execution and a retrial, but Troy was denied again and again.
I don’t know what the Supreme Court, Georgia state judges and the parole board did or did not hear to deny Troy. I do not know what is in the hearts of witnesses, police officers, families or even Troy Davis. But I believe that doubt, large or small, is worth a man’s life.
I want to trust our justice system, but it’s not blind enough to sustain the death penalty. The discrepancies of race and sentencing are facts. Every study has found that black males are more likely to be incarcerated and most studies have found that they receive harsh sentences. If sentencing is ever arbitrary and discriminatory, how can we ever take a person’s life? It is not justice if it is not fair-minded.
That being said, I find the death penalty abhorrent even for the guilty. It is neither an American or a Christian or a secular humanist ideal. It is not even logical.
We don’t teach others to not hit by hitting them. We don’t teach others to not speed by racing next to them and forcing the reckless driver into an accident. And we will not teach others to not murder by murdering them.
Now some will say these people should be killed because they cannot be rehabilitated, or they do not deserve to live because of their crime. But if we do not believe all people can change then we have no belief in God and His powers to change us. If we do not believe in the right to life, then we think some morals are flexible and some deeds are not forgivable. When we support the death penalty, we assert that we are smart enough to know who should live and who should die, but we are too stupid to teach anyone how to live or how to give back to the community they scarred with their crime.
For Troy Davis, this wasn’t merely a debate on the death penalty, but the question of the state killing an innocent man. The question of how much doubt is worth a man’s life.
Whether you have always been against the death penalty, have never thought much about the it, or have supported it, mere possibility that Troy Davis was innocent should bring those of us who pray to our knees and those of us who think to our keyboards.