When the Death Penalty Hits Home
As the Troy Davis case takes over the news, one writer can't help thinking of her cousin on death row.
"It makes no sense to prop up such a failed system," wrote the former prosecutor recently. "I am convinced that at least one innocent person may have been executed under the current death penalty law. It was not my intent nor do I believe that of the voters who overwhelmingly enacted the death penalty law in 1978. We did not consider that horrific possibility."
Troy Davis' (imminent) death seems to be reversing a lot of decisions, except for the one that sealed his fate so long ago. Several witnesses have come forward to say that they were coerced into naming Davis as the shooter. According to Amnesty International, "The case against [Davis] consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial."
E.D. Kain wrote in Forbes: "In the end, I am not concerned so much with whether or not Davis is guilty or innocent. I am concerned with the uncertainty of his guilt ... If we have even a glimmer of doubt about his guilt, there will be no justice in his death."
Mark MacPhail's family say they're not out for blood, only justice. I simply don't believe in that type of justice. Justice covered in blood is just as wrong as the crime for which it seeks punishment. Those who disagree with me will no doubt shout, "But what about the victim?!" I say that capital punishment creates victims of us all. An eye for an eye just makes everybody blind.
In the last 20 years, I've gotten maybe five letters from Tony, always written in sharp, daggerlike scrawl across each page in impossibly neat diagonal lines. I've written back maybe once or twice. Most years it's easy to forget that my cousin, someone I used to know, is on death row. That during the entirety of my adult life, Tony's been waiting to die. I'm out here living, as is the rest of the free world.
In a letter recently released online, Davis, a man many now believe is innocent, spoke for himself and called for a global dismantling of the death penalty. "I can't wait to stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing, 'I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!' "