The Execution of Troy Davis has brought this discussion once again to the forefront of how the death penalty cases are conducted and processed in the US. The specific case of Troy Davis calls into question if this defendant was proven beyond reasonable doubt that he committed this crime. The testimonies of eyewitnesses were recanted and there was allegedly a confession by another person that committed the crime. According to the media and supporters of Troy Davis, there was no physical evidence such as DNA.
Troy Davis was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony; which many of the eyewitnesses claim that the police coerced them into making these statements. There are so many issues regarding this case that it seems inconceivable that a person could be convicted and placed on death row with no other evidence other than eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony has been proven to not be an accurate method to identify the correct person because of perceptions, or bad memory, and many times testimony can be influenced by authorities by showing photos of one suspect as in this particular case.
In this day in age where there are many crime fighting CSI labs with advanced forensics available today that were not in 1991, I don’t understand how the state of Georgia could justify not taking another look into this case. The efforts were always made by the defense, and the attorneys for one reason or another unfortunately could not win an appeal for Troy Davis. The state of Georgia has rigid guidelines and even the Governor does not have the power to pardon prisoners. As the attorney from the Innocence project described in order for the testimony of the eyewitness to be considered as false, the person has to be proven that they were not in the area of the crime. The standard is difficult to overcome because if the eyewitnesses were in the area then their testimony even if they recanted would not be considered. The original testimony of the eyewitness would be considered only, not the recantation according to the state of Georgia’s guidelines.
The death penalty is warranted in some cases such as the case of the family tortured and murdered in Connecticut and the Byrd dragging death murder in Texas.
These cases were proven by testimony and in the Connecticut case the suspect was caught leaving the scene of the crime. In cases such as that of Troy Davis; even during his execution denying killing the officer and asked that God have mercy on the souls of the staff performing the execution. There is a prevailing thought that the process that Georgia conducted the execution that they could have executed an innocent man.
The death penalty is a final solution to crime deterrent but if one innocent person is executed then isn’t the US government and the State of Georgia complicit in committing an injustice.
In order for the death penalty process to be effective there has to be a process in which the defendant has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with circumstantial evidence , there should be a mandate that there has to be both scientific forensic evidence for the death penalty. If the case can’t be processed through forensic evidence then the death penalty should not considered in the case but rather life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The death penalty is final penalty that can’t be undone, once the prisoner is killed the event can’t be undone.
The death penalty should be reformed because there are so many factors that can cause a miscarriage of justice. Some of the factors are inadequate legal representation, poor legal counsel, an overzealous prosecutor, using death penalty for political gains, eye witness being intimidated, not allowing scientific forensic evidence that could exonerate innocent prisoners. The appeal process must be reformed to include mandatory testing for evidence ; if DNA is still present for cases tried more than 10 years ago.
If the death penalty process has each state mandated to have these fail safe methods to ensure that an innocent person is not executed then I think that some of the opponents of the death penalty will have less doubt about this system being unjust.
The death penalty discussion will last a few days in the media, as stories fade so will the issue again until another execution. When will America reform the problems that are apparent with the death penalty. Many in the US about 60% agree with the death penalty, some of the very same right to life supporters that do not want to believe in abortion; believe in the death penalty. This is an issue that proves to contradict our values as a society because we don’t equate the innocence of a person on death row with that of an unborn fetus. If the anti abortion crowd believes in not killing the unborn then why do they believe in killing the living regardless of their crime. This is just a question that I have laid out because it is a question that should be asked of all us. Once we answer this question, we might look at ourselves closely and consider fixing some of the wrongs in the unjust death penalty process.