The Denver Post
What makes the Troy Davis execution different from most executions is that you have heard so much about it.
Every so often, a death-penalty case makes the headlines. Not usually. Certainly not always. In some places — like Texas, where has presided over more than 200 executions — it's almost routine.
In fact, on the same day Davis was executed in Georgia, Lawrence Brewer, an admitted white supremacist, was executed in Texas for his part in the infamous dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man.
There were at least two newsworthy items from Brewer's execution:
Several of Byrd's children were quoted as saying they didn't believe anything was accomplished by executing Brewer. "You can't fight murder with murder," Ross Byrd, a son, told Reuters. "Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can't hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn't what we want."
And, as Andrew Cohen pointed out in an article on The Atlantic's website, Perry was away that day as the clock ran out on Brewer. Perry was fundraising in Iowa, where, as Cohen wrote, he was available by cellphone.
Davis was a convicted cop killer who was on death row for 22 years. What made his case different was not that he was clearly innocent, as some of his supporters claim.
It's more that Davis might not have been guilty — that there was reason for doubt. If we believe in reasonable doubt as a foundation of American law — and we do — we should believe in beyond reasonable doubt before we put someone to death.
And there was sufficient doubt in this case that William Sessions, the Reagan-appointed FBI director and former federal judge, wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying that Davis' sentence should have been commuted to life in prison without parole.
Sessions wrote about Davis' final hearing last year: "What the hearing demonstrated most conclusively was that the evidence in this case — consisting almost entirely of conflicting stories, testimonies and statements — is inadequate to the task of convincingly establishing either Davis' guilt or his innocence."
There was no DNA evidence. There were eyewitnesses, many of whom would eventually recant their testimony. They either lied then or lied later. We do know that three jurors in Davis' trail said they would have changed their vote if they had all the evidence.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The Denver Post