Thursday, September 22, 2011

(not) beyond reasonable doubt

I am anti-death penalty in general, for a variety of reasons. The Troy Davis case in particular makes me sick to my stomach, especially because I know that there are more Troy Davises out there.

Here's what I've been reading:

From The Guardian: Troy Davis execution goes ahead despite serious doubts about his guilt

From The Nation: The Killing of Troy Davis

Also from The Nation, a look at the drugs used in lethal injection and their rather sketchy origins: The Executioner's Dilemma

From Racialicious: RIP Troy Davis

A view from the other side of the ocean: The Custody Sergeant
The death penalty is final. Even after 21yrs in prison there is still considerable doubt about the Troy Davis case. If we can't get to the truth in 21 years then it gives us a great example that ultimately, no matter how sure we are, we can still be very, very wrong.
A more meta look at racial bias and the death penalty from the Equal Justice Institute:

Each year in Alabama, nearly 65% of all murders involve black victims, yet 80% of the people currently awaiting execution in Alabama were convicted of crimes in which the victims were white. Only 6% of all murders in Alabama involve black defendants and white victims, but over 60% of black death row prisoners have been sentenced for killing someone white. (emphasis mine)
I think, also, what this highlights is the fact that Troy Davis is a symptom of a host of larger issues--though I am loath to say that, because we're talking about a man's life right here. But there are more meta-issues here: whether the death penalty is actually real justice; the very real reality that race makes a difference in sentencing; the also real reality of police coercion. And the list goes on.

There was a spontaneous protest in Philly last night. The coverage from the Philly Inquirer includes a quote from an acquaintance of mine:
In front of City Hall, protesters complained that police were aggressive toward the crowd.
"They were unnecessarily rough, but I stood my ground," said Cambria Hooven, a social worker. "I'm an advocate for my kids - that's why I'm here. Any one of them could be Troy Davis."
 I feel the need to re-re-re-re-quote (heh) Seamus Heaney, because it's at moments like these that I feel the world is beyond redemption:
So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.
Or perhaps, just this: miserere nobis.


  1. I wish there was something profound to add. It's times like these that I think we are not as advanced a civilization that we pretend to be.

  2. I know. It makes me angry and sad and sick all at the same time.