On the death penalty and Troy

Yesterday Troy Davis was denied clemency for shooting a police officer in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. He has already been saved 3 times by Supreme Court intervention, once 90 minutes before his scheduled execution. He maintains his innocence.

The case has some major problems. Reasonable doubt goes by the wayside when a jury has found a man guilty. His job the past 20 years has been to prove his innocence.

I remember arguing against the death penalty in high school during a history exercise. It was my first opportunity to think through this issue and my opinion has not changed. We all know the arguments to support it. The primary, being:

  1. The death penalty removes the evil person from society, protecting the whole.
  2. The death penalty is a deterrent to crime.
  3. The death penalty is less expensive than paying for life in prison.
  4. The death penalty is fair if s/he has taken another life.

And against:

  1. It violates the “cruel and unusual punishment” in the Bill of Rights.
  2. Life in prison is a worse punishment and better deterrent.
  3. The possibility exists that innocent people can be put to death.
  4. It sends the wrong message: Kill the person who killed someone in order to say that killing is wrong.

I am not going to argue these, at least not right now. Today what I am thinking about is the other kindred countries we sup with in supporting the death penalty. Sudan. Somalia. Libya. Egypt. North Korea. China. Hmm.. one thinks.

In 2010 alone, the following 23 countries carried out executions: Bahrain (1), Botswana (1), Iraq (1+) Malaysia (1+), Vietnam (1+),  Japan (2), Singapore (1+), Belarus (2), Taiwan (4) , Egypt (4), Equatorial Guinea (4), Palestinian Authority (5), Sudan (6+), Somalia (8+), couBangladesh (9+), Syria (17+), Libya (18+), Saudi Arabia (27+), USA (46+), North Korea (60+), Yemen (53+), Iran (252+), China (2000+).

Now, there’s some good human rights company to be in. Really, friends, this is appalling. We consider ourselves the most advanced and fair country in the world.

While we attempt to be an “even hand” in other country’s conflicts, support nonviolent and inclusive approaches to education, champion the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., and teach our children not to hit or hurt each other, we murder men.

I am disgusted. And I feel like crying.

If our conscience is not pricked, we should take a walk in this gorgeous fall day, sit on a bench, and ask ourselves what has become of us.

Then, let your voice be heard:  http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/not-in-our-name-georgia-must-not-execute-troy-davis



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3 Responses to On the death penalty and Troy

  1. Mark Koenig says:

    Thanks Shannon for writing and for sharing. I linked on a post of my own.

  2. shannonbeck2 says:

    Thank you, Mark. Heartbreaking.

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