People who know me well may not believe this, but I am strongly against the death penalty. The phrase ‘an eye for an eye’ is, in my opinion, absolute rubbish. The reason I bring this to your attention is because of the state of Georgia’s decision to kill Troy Davis, who anywhere else in the world would probably have been released due to a lack of evidence for a crime he may or may not have committed over 20 years ago.
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted of killing an off duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, as he attempted to help a homeless man in 1989. No evidence ever linked Troy Davis to the scene, as there was no retrieval of a weapon or any DNA evidence at the scene of the crime. Troy Davis was held in prison for 22 years, although there is no concrete proof that he did anything wrong at all.
Most of the witnesses had either recanted or changed their statements about MacPhail’s death in the time that Davis was imprisoned. Davis himself had been given an eleventh-hour appeal, which took the US Supreme Court four hours to discuss. Prosecutors stated that they have ‘no doubts as to his guilt.’ How they can say this, when no proof exists that Davis was in the same neighbourhood on the night of MacPhail’s death is beyond me. The fact it took 4 hours to discuss proves there must have been at least some doubt in the minds of some members of the US Supreme Court.
The major problem that I have with the death penalty is that it is pure punishment. The main reason that countries imprison people for the crimes they have committed is not, as many would like to believe, to keep certain people off our streets, but it is a form of rehabilitation. The likelihood of re-offending after a stretch in prison is much lower than someone who goes unpunished. But the death penalty, as I have previously stated, is pure punishment. There is no possibility of rehabilitation. It is as though their peers and countrymen are saying, ‘This person is completely useless to society, and it is our right to take away his life.’
President Obama, the man who could do no wrong for almost 3 months at the helm of the USA, has now shown that he is fatally (if you’ll pardon the pun) flawed, as I believe he bottled it one on the biggest stages of his premiership. While there may be legislation which prevents him from intervening in a matter of state justice, he must have known that there was a more than a morsel of doubt about the case, and it is baffling that he made no attempt to appeal to the Georgian state court.
Having spent the early part of his presidency attempting to close down Guantanamo Bay, I am amazed he said nothing when one of his citizens was being put to death for a crime where there was no supporting evidence that he committed.
Troy Davis is not the only man to be put to death in the USA today. A white supremacist, Lawrence Russell Brewer, who dragged a black man along from behind his pickup truck has also been killed in Texas. Despite the fact there is evidence to prove his crimes, it does not mean he should be killed.
The grieving process for the families of the deceased cannot be made any easier by these deaths either. By killing them, they are not punishing the perpetrators, but their families and friends, who are generally as innocent as the victim.
In my humble opinion, the most civilised countries have abolished the death penalty, and have a fleet of nuclear submarines (please don’t ask why, but it does make all the difference). This leaves the UK and France. That’s about right I’d say. Despite the USA being arguably the only superpower the world has left, it clearly does not have a social conscience. In some states the death penalty is gone, but the USA will still be seen as backward in my opinion until the death penalty is abolished across the whole nation.