Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Plea For Clemency For The Wrongly Accused Troy Davis

There is a man named Troy Davis, who is in prison in Georgia, and is facing execution on September 21st, unless there is a stay. The simple story is: 20 years ago, Mr. Davis was convicted of killing a police officer, with no physical evidence, and the testimony of several witnesses. Several of those witnesses have come forward to say that their testimony was coerced by the presence of law enforcement officials, and they have recanted their stories. There is a tremendous amount of doubt now, and it behooves the State of Georgia to re-open the case and award Mr. Davis a new and hopefully fairer trial. So far, the government of Georgia has shown no inclination to do so, and so, many individuals such as myself, through the auspices of the Internet, have been involved in a concerted campaign to convince the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant a stay and allow there to be a new trial. As such, after the break, is a copy of the letter I am sending to the board.

September 13, 2011

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.

To the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles,

I write to you about a matter which has come to my attention through the medium of the Internet, a matter which causes me great consternation, as it involves the life of a man, scheduled to be taken by the State. I speak, of course, of the impending execution of Troy Davis, now set for September 21st, 2011. No doubt, your offices have been bombarded by the letters, the faxes, and the emails of many concerned Americans, deploring this action and asking for leniency for Mr. Davis. To that tumult, let me add one more letter, in the vain hope that my words might fall upon the eyes of someone who is in a position to stop this egregious act.

I will not sit here and belabor points that you have no doubt read thousands of times over, in many and varied forms, suffice to say that it appears that there is much in the case against Mr. Davis to be found wanting. Were that not the case, I would feel compelled to write nonetheless. For this execution speaks to a larger failing of American society – our inability to separate justice from vengeance. For all that he is guilty or innocent, those are concepts for men and women to decide; that he is a human being, is a fact that cannot be denied. Is it so important that this one man die? For his is not the body of a savior upon a cross, in that his one death would mean so much to broader humanity. His death would have no other meaning, save to feed a need for vengeance and blood that we, as human society, should be far beyond now.

This man's death can right no wrong. It cannot resurrect the victim of the crime for which Mr. Davis is being punished, rightly or wrongly. It certainly does nothing to advance the cause or care of humanity, for there is no more important admonition than one person shall not take the life of another. Surely, if we truly honor that admonition, we are left to ask: if one person may not take a life, what greater right do many people have to do so? The State, for being a multitude of human beings, can have no greater right or privilege than that of its least member, and even that person may not kill another.

I implore you to reconsider this man's pending execution and do whatever must be done to grant him a stay of execution. Once that important work is done, we may address the issue of non-guilt, but if that work is not done, I fear we will be sorely judged for failing to take one simple step in the name of justice. I thank you for your time and indulgence during what must surely be a hectic period.


If you wish to learn more about the case and what you can do to help in these waning days, I suggest you read “A verdict that is not ironclad is not good enough to support the death penalty.” by my friend Emily L. Hauser. And if you want to read a wonderful piece, also by esteemed friend, on how she explained what she was doing to her children, read Explaining the Death Penalty to My Children, published by The Atlantic.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Newt. We are each one small voice, but together, we can be heard!