On Lynching and the Execution of Troy Davis

The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia has ignited a firestorm of outrage. Davis’ last words were that he was “innocent”.

Not surprising Cash and Carry Uncle Tommie Clarence led the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene… Proving once again a black defendant can’t get a fair trial or consideration in the courts, whether it is due to racism, politics – or in the case of Thomas…

A need to re-establish his Lawn Ornament bonafides with the conservative people who own him. I am not arguing that Troy Davis’ execution would have been stopped by the court…

Only that were not the Supreme Court corrupt, at least he would have gotten a fair hearing.

The Execution of Troy Davis Provides Another ‘Haunting Reminder of Once Prevalent Southern Lynchings’

“I am innocent,” said Troy Davis, moments before the the state of Georgia put him to death.

The state-sanctioned slaying, which former President Jammy Carter characterized as “a grave miscarriage of justice,” was completed at 11:08 pm EST.

Before the execution, the man whose case inspired an international outcry against not just the death penalty but a dysfunctional “justice” system told the witnesses at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison facility: “The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have a gun.”

Addressing the family of, Mark MacPhail, the off-duty Savannah police officer he was accused of killing, Davis said he was sorry for their loss. Then, he said: “I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.”

To those who battled to save his life, Davis urged continued investigation, inquiry and struggle for justice. “All I can ask… is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth,” he said moments before the execution.

The killing of Davis took place after US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Georgia native, led the High Court in rejecting a plea that the killing be blocked. There were no dissents from the other justices on the current Court.

But it is important to underline the word “current.”

Former Justice John Paul Stevens, who left the High Court last year, has argued in recent statements and interviews that the death penalty is “unconstitutional.”

In particular, he cited evidence confirming that African-Americans who are charged with murder (such as Troy Davis) are dramatically more likely than whites to be executed.

The General Accounting Office has concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks,” while former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, the long-time chair of the Constutution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Commitee, has said that: “We simply cannot say we live in a country that offers equal justice to all Americans when racial disparities plague the system by which our society imposes the ultimate punishment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union notes that  “systemic racial bias in the application of the death penalty exists at both the state and federal level,” and it notes historic patterns of discrimination in particular states such as Georgia—highlighting the classic work of University of Iowa law professor David Baldus, who found that during the 1980s prosecutors in Georgia sought the death penalty for 70 percent of African-American defendants with white victims, but for only 15 percent of white defendants with black victims. (Troy Davis’ case traces back to an incident in 1989.)

The patterns of discrimination, noted Justice Stevens, “provides a haunting reminder of once prevalent Southern lynchings.“

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3 Responses

  1. Lately I’ve been lamenting the “hidden cost” of the judiciary on American society. This is but another example. A person of little means will be rolled over. Public Defenders are only a little better than no defense at all, and the odds are stacked so high against defendants that I wonder why Davis didn’t cop a plea which would have spared his life.

    I’ve not focused on ‘Troy Davis’ specifically in the run up to his execution, because although he probably didn’t murder McPhail, he was not an innocent by-stander. If people at the grass roots want to really make a stand against the death penalty, they need to get busy identifying death row inmates whose convictions are dubious right now. I wonder realistically what that percentage is.

    • The Innocence Project:

      http://www.innocenceproject.org/

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_Project

      What little attention organizations like this get in the media, is usually negative – regardless of the good they do.

    • It is impossible to tell how many people were wrongfully executed, because frequently the Courts seal the documents after conviction, and not infrequently bloc exculpatory evidence such as DNA tests..

      Of those cases where it was possible to “go back” and examine the evidence, there is credible evidence that at least 8 people were executed who were innocent.

      http://nakedlaw.avvo.com/2010/05/8-people-who-were-executed-and-later-found-innocent/

      If you have ever sat a jury, one of the things you begin to realize is that there often isn’t any clear cut evidence pointing incontrovertibly to the criminal act. You also begin to realize just how far the prosecution will go to portray even the most flimsy circumstantial “evidence” as “rock solid”. Sat a jury one time where the prosecution presented as evidence that the defendant has a 22 caliber single shot rifle, and an inoperable antique 44 cal revolver pistol as “an armory, and evidence that the defendant was involved in the drug trade”…

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