“…in America, some lives are simply more treasured than others. How else can you explain research that shows murderers convicted of killing whites are three-times more likely to be sentenced to death than in cases where the victim is black, and four-times more likely in cases where the victim is Hispanic?”
Originally posted on Race-Talk. By Elizabeth Renter.
The state-sponsored murder of Troy Davis captured the world’s attention as a perfect storm of what’s wrong with the American (in)justice system. No murder weapon, no DNA and no credible witnesses led the average person to have far “too much doubt” about Davis’ guilt. The same couldn’t be said, however, for any of the officials who had any power to stop the execution before it happened. But while this case is being heralded as the latest rallying cry for death penalty abolitionists, it goes far deeper than that.
As Davis was granted a last minute reprieve in the seconds before his scheduled execution at 7 p.m. EST on this past Wednesday night, tears flowed and voices were raised in hopes this would signal the end of Davis’ nightmare or at least another opportunity to prove his innocence. But that wouldn’t be the case as he was killed just 4 hours later when the Supreme Court denied his final request for a stay.
Troy Davis is one man in a long list of people whose rights, and ultimately lives, were cast aside in the name of this broken justice system. However, few cases have reached this level of coverage in recent years because frankly, it’s easy to look past an injustice when it doesn’t affect you or the people in your immediate circle. But as the state of Georgia pressed to execute Troy, through the appeals process and four different execution dates, it became increasingly difficult to look away and pretend that a catastrophic failure of the justice system wasn’t impending.
Davis had been saved before, having received a stay from the Georgia state Parole Board in 2007 and one from the United States Supreme Court just 90 minutes before his 2008 scheduled execution. These acts alone suggest there was doubt of Davis’ guilt even from the judiciary and board that would later fail to save him. Though three members of the state parole board had been replaced since 2007, that board promised not to move forward with the execution unless there was “no doubt as to the guilt of the accused,” an idea that must have left with the three former members. The parole board is not governed by the same rules as a trial or appeals court. To say that they would be overstepping their bounds by granting clemency after a court had established guilt is laughable—that’s precisely why clemency exists.
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