This week, the state of Georgia executed an innocent man. Troy Davis was 22 years old in 1989, when he was convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer in Savannah. Without physical evidence and depending solely on the reliability of prosecution witnesses, Davis was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Over the next 20 years, of the nine witnesses who provided testimony to seal the conviction, seven of them have since recanted their testimony, stating in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by Savannah police into testifying against Davis.
One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles. Three times, Davis’ execution was delayed because of questions about his innocence. Each time, the courts denied him justice. The fourth time, though, he would get no reprieve. Not from the US Supreme Court or the District Attorney, who had the ability to stop the execution.
I did some soul searching about capital punishment a few years ago. As you may know by the writings on this blog, my political leans left. That wasn’t the case in 2003, when I was a staunch conservative. My feelings were pretty much that the punishment should be available to the most evil criminals. But unfortunately, evil has a way of corrupting those who are bound to serve the public. We’ve seen that this week, when in spite of the overwhelming reasonable doubt of Davis’ innocence, those individuals in power did nothing to right the wrong.
These lawmakers (cops, lawyers, and judges) are supposed to be people who claim to be of moral character, on a higher plain. In fact, they’re nothing but rouges and upstarts, looking for was to further their advancement, rather than seek justice. It’s no longer about finding justice, it’s about winning and losing, much like a football game, only with people’s lives on the line.
Troy Davis never had a chance. Without money, justice was shunned away. Because of this corruption, I couldn’t for the life of me support capital punishment, no matter what the severity of the crime. In order to end violence, we must look to each other for guidance. We must help and support each other and make sure that those individuals that need help, get the help they need. No stone must be left unturned, no page empty. There must be a shadow of a doubt in one’s innocence.
I always believed in “eye for an eye” growing up. But then I asked myself, what would Jesus do? He forgave those who wrongly accused him and sentenced him to die on the cross. Tonight, two people were murdered. An off-duty police officer, and a black man with no chance to defend himself.
And in the middle, the criminal justice system…with blood on their hands.