The past week has been an emotional and challenging one, as people across the world have mobilized to get the word out regarding the pending execution of Georgia inmate Troy Davis in the face of serious doubts about his guilt in a 1989 murder. As we speak, protesters are at the White House letting the POTUS know just how they feel about this miscarriage of justice. Davis is scheduled to be put to death at 7pm EST tonight.
If Davis’ life is not spared, was it all in vain? And if he is freed, does the fight stop tonight? Absolutely not. This man’s case can be the catalyst to spark new interest in abolishing the death penalty in the US for once and for all.
First, everyone should understand why capital punishment does not work. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has put together a list of the top ten reasons why we should oppose legal murder:
1. Executions are carried out at staggering cost to taxpayers: It costs far more to execute a person than to keep him or her in prison for life.
2. Capital punishment does not deter crime: There is no evidence that the threat of death prevents crime. The Southern US has both the highest capital punishment and murder rates in the country.
3. States are unable to prevent accidental executions of innocent people: 138 people to date have been pardoned while on Death Row. If someone is executed and then found innocent, then what?
4. Race plays a role in determining who lives and who dies: While the numbers of Black and White murder victims have been similar since 1977, some 80% of people executed were convicted of murdering a White person. Is the crime of murder more terrible if the victim is White? The death penalty seems to indicate so.
5. The death penalty is applied at random: There are 22k homicides every year, but only 150 people sentenced to death. Why? The NCADP fingers “politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction in which a crime is committed”.
6. Capital punishment goes against almost every religion: While there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, it doesn’t stop the same religious people who oppose abortion (yet often support the death penalty) from citing faith as a reason to prevent legal killings.
7. The U.S. is keeping company with notorious human rights abusers: Over 128 nations worldwide have abandoned the death penalty. And only China, Saudi Arabia and Iran put more people to death each year than America.
8. Millions of dollars could be diverted to helping the families of murder victims: The money used to execute people could be used to provide therapy, compensation of lost wages and other more tangible methods of recompensing victims of murder.
9. Bad lawyers are a persistent problem: Incompetent lawyers have been a huge factor in determining who lives and who dies. The better the quality of the legal representation, the less likely the accused will face death…is that fair?
10. Life without parole is a sensible alternative to the death penalty: Almost every state has a life sentence option available for sentencing criminals. You can take someone’s life without taking their breath. You can also be sure that someone who is later exonerated is alive to receive justice.
With this information, where do we go next? Well for starters, continue contacting local government/government officials in jurisdictions that use the death pentalty. Georgia should hear the voice of the people long after tonight for what has transpired there, regardless of the final outcome. Also, get involved with orgs such as the NCADP. Use your cyber presence (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc) to spread the word about pending executions. VOTE your feelings! Demand accountabily from candidates and officials seeking re-election. Don’t let Troy Davis’ 20 year fight be in vain.