Right up front – I’m OK with capital punishment. Society overall does better, and fewer people are hurt, when we weed out folks who cause heinous harm to members of society. That weeding out can include putting the person to death if we deem that’s the only option to prevent them from causing more damage.
In fact, I’m such a fan of it, that I can’t figure out why we don’t start applying it to corporations. This overtly activist and extreme supreme court of ours has decided that our sacred Bill of Rights applies to corporations, so it’s time they start standing up to the same punishments that real citizens stand up to. If a corporation causes the death of a person, they stand trial for that death. If they are convicted of a capital crime, they are disbanded and liquidated as a corporation, with the assets they leave behind benefiting society as a whole.
But that’s another discussion…
Today I want to talk about a particular death penalty sentence – one that appears to represent systemic excesses and corruption in our criminal justice systems.
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a white police officer in Georgia. While there was no physical evidence connecting Mr. Davis to the crime, there were 9 witnesses – enough to allow the jury to convict him. While it troubles me a little that we’d impose the death penalty without airtight physical evidence, I’m giving the jury the benefit of the doubt, and assuming the circumstantial evidence (9 witnesses) must have been compelling.
The problem is, 7 of those witnesses have since recanted in signed affidavits. Most of them have testified that they bore witness only under the duress of police pressure and coercion. Of the remaining 2 witnesses, there is strong evidence that one of them may be the culprit who actually did commit the crime Mr. Davis was convicted of – multiple witnesses have signed statements that he has claimed responsibility. Apparently this man was the alternative suspect at the time Mr Davis was convicted.
I don’t advocate that Georgia let Mr. Davis go. I advocate that their case doesn’t seem to meet the bar we should be setting to allow us to kill someone. Their case seems to have been weak to begin with, and it has since fallen apart completely. In a trial today with today’s information, it seems unlikely there would be a conviction, let alone an execution.
This is where the corruption of the system becomes deadly. Rather than admitting this case is thin, putting the execution on hold until this new evidence can be evaluated, Georgia appears to be pushing full steam ahead to kill Mr. Davis. This is a case involving the death of a police officer after all, and the state needs to make an example out of somebody.
It doesn’t seem to matter to them whether or not the man they make an example of is guilty or innocent.