Troy Davis: The Price of "Justice" Was Too High
September 22, 2011
When protecting the systems in a society becomes more important than the people the systems are designed to protect,
that society is in great peril.
Troy Davis languished on Georgia's Death Row for four additional hours until the stay of execution he hoped and prayed
for was denied by the US Supreme Court. At 11:08 PM (EST) Davis was executed for the murder of Officer Mark MacPhail,
even though recent evidence indicated that he might not have committed the murder. Members of the Georgia Supreme Court,
a Butts County Superior Court judge, the Georgia Pardons Board, prosecutors, and others were more concerned with
conviction rates and reputations than justice. They wanted "justice" at any cost, but many in this country and around
the world demonstrated because the price that was paid was too high.
The execution of Davis when so much exculpatory evidence has come to light will only provide a short period of
satisfaction for the justice seekers. At some point in time, the reality that another innocent life has been taken (the
first being Officer MacPhail) coupled with the reality that the actual murderer is alive, well and walking the streets
of Butts County, Georgia, will begin to weigh heavy on all of their hearts.
The question is very simple: once a person has been convicted and sentenced to death, if evidence is presented that
destroys the prosecution's case, should that individual be executed? No! Look at it this way, since seven of the nine
prosecutions witnesses have recanted their eyewitness testimony, the prosecution would not be able to get the conviction
if the case were retried today. If the prosecution could not win this case today; why did Davis lose his life?
This calls into question the validity of "eye-witness" testimony, police investigatory practices, and many of the
assumptions that Americans have used to base their faith in the judicial process. The ugly reality that this case forces
many Americans to grapple with is, if the Davis case has fallen apart, how many other cases are called into question and
how many innocent people have been executed?
This should be a clarion call to all those citizens of conscience in Georgia. All of those elected officials who touched
this case and elected to weigh in on the wrong side of history should be defeated in their next elections. Nationally,
this should beg the questions, what type of nation are we? For what do we really stand? Do we execute human beings just
because we can, even when more than reasonable doubt has now been presented? Carrying out a questionable and tainted
death sentence actually damages the "system" that these officials claim to hold so near and dear.
In the last Republican presidential debate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said he sleeps well every night even though he has
signed the death warrants of 234 death row inmates. He stated, "I've never struggled with that at all ... The state of
Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which - when someone commits the most heinous of crimes
against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of
the United States, if that's required." The problem with Perry's sense of security is that, since 1994, 44 innocent
people have been exonerated and released from Texas prisons based upon DNA evidence that was not available or admitted
at trial. Those who have been executed don't get a retrial, do over or exoneration.
This is class warfare. In America, the poor and the ignorant go to jail, while as the late Gil Scott-Heron said, "the
rich go to San Clemente."
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III is the host/producer of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "On With Leon" on
XM/Sirius satellite radio channel 169 "The Power." He is a regular guest on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and a contributing
columnist to Truthout.org, PoliticsInColor.com
and Black Star News