Sun Oct 02, 2011
On that fateful Wednesday night, I held my breath as I read the articles online, one by one. When I got to that last article, I felt nothing else but a rising pain in my heart. Troy Davis was executed at last, for a crime he may or may not have committed. The first thing that raced through my mind as I read on was, “Is this truly justified?”
There was enough doubt cast on his case. Seven of the nine witnesses who had claimed they saw him murder police officer Mark MacPhail either changed or recanted their testimony. There was no physical evidence, no sort of DNA linking Davis to the murder. And yet, in spite of this doubt, the state of Georgia proceeded to execute him. Is this how our justice system works nowadays? I thought, as a nation well-known for valuing freedom and democracy, we knew better than that – don’t we always say that a person is “innocent until proven guilty”?
Please don’t get me wrong here: I understand the pain that the MacPhail family has endured for 20 years. My heart goes out to them, for no one deserves to lose their loved ones in this manner. But what if Davis wasn't the right man? What if later evidence proved that someone else committed that heinous crime? How would this weigh on the conscience of those who sent Troy Davis to his demise?
Over the years, there have been countless stories of wrongly convicted inmates on death row who have been exonerated. Those innocent people suffered in prison for years, sometimes even decades, for crimes they did not commit. According to the Innocence Project, up until now 273 people were exonerated due to re-analysis of DNA evidence. Imagine how many more innocent people may be on death row, or have already been executed! Is the death penalty truly reliable?
Until we find better ways to deal with cases like this, I hope and pray that others whose guilt is in doubt will not face the death penalty too soon.