As with most of you, on Thursday I mourned for a man I knew very little about. Troy Davis was executed at 11:08 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. He didn’t take a sedative and proclaimed his innocence until his dying breath. I have to ask (as I’ve continually asked), when are we going to repeal the death penalty already?!
If for not the simple reason of ‘humanity’ then how about these:
- The argument for has always been that it is a deterrent. I mean, when you know you will have to pay the price of an ‘eye for an eye’… You won’t be so inclined. Here are some facts straight from deathpenaltyinfo.org (I suggest you go there, you might be just as surprised as I was… maybe more if you are FOR the death penalty): since 1976 there have been over 1270 executions, peaking out in 2009 at 98 executions in one year! Here’s a doosy, out of that number, 475 people alone were put to death in the Lone Star State. Yep, Texas has taken this ‘eye for an eye’ thing to heart and the South in general. Finishing the Top Five is Virginia at 109, Oklahoma at 96, Florida at 69 and Missouri at 68 (I think there’s a trend here… more below). Now, if this is such a great ‘deterrent’ wouldn’t the number of executions just level off or go down to… say, 1? To sum this up; the stats continue to show that the South Leads in overall execution since 1976. With the total number of 1,043! As opposed to 4 in the North East and 74 in the West. Now their crime rate is still the highest and yet they account for over 80% of the executions. The Northeast on the other hand, has less than 1% and also has the lowest murder rate (this was tied with the West). Deterrent? How’s that working out for ya?
- I’ve got to say it (you know that I do) RACE. Now before I go on, let me first say that I am the last person to use the ‘race card’ but this truly does speak for itself. On average, the percentage of race (White, Black, Hispanic, Other) is: 42% White, 44% Black, 12% Hispanic and 2% Other. Hear me out… 44% Black and it may appear to be even numbers, BUT the Black population only takes up 13.5% (this as opposed to approximately 72.4% White… I said approximately). You don’t think race is an issue? Over 75% of the victims in Death Penalty cases are White AND… persons executed for interracial murder? 17 White defendants who killed a Black victim V. 255 BLACK DEFENDANTS WHO KILLED A WHITE VICTIM.
- I’ve heard it said by various families of victims that it’s ‘Just’. Really, Just? You want Justice for your loved ones? First, before I continue, let me say that I don’t know anyone who would disagree with you. For we all feel for you and anyone having to go through this tragic loss. We stumble because we are at a loss as we can’t imagine the horror you must be feeling. But there are other ways to find justice. It is understandable that you want your Loved One back with you; but do you truly feel that the death of this person (guilty or not) will do that for you? Do you truly feel that this act of (whether you believe it to be murder or not, make no mistake… it is a killing) will allow you to sleep at night? Let’s look at ‘Justice’ and a few more facts… Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from Death Row with evidence of their innocence according to the Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil & Constitutional Rights, Oct. 1993, (DPIC.org). From 1973-1999, DPIC reported that there was an average of 3.1 exonerations per year. This increased to 5 per year between the years of 2000-2007. The way I see it, if there is any room for doubt, why would we agree to have a person pay the ultimate price? When you have eager attorneys and judges who are all too eager to move up the ladder of success, I ask again; why would we chance it and have a person pay the ultimate price? Think about it; 5 exonerations per year… I wonder how many more there are? This doesn’t sound like justice to me; does it really sound ‘Just’ to you? Really?
I know I must sound extremely glib; I assure you I’m everything but; I’m outraged. I’m outraged that we as a society are still so outraged that we feel the need to take our anger out on our citizens and our youth; with no hope for redemption, for them or ourselves. With all this said, it is my belief that the only way to true redemption is through true forgiveness. You might say that you will never forget what they did; that’s fine. Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting the act and it isn’t for the perpetrator. It’s all about you, the Forgiver. It is so that you can be released and not allow that action, that horror, control you anymore.
My mother had a wonderful idea (she was truly a woman ahead of her time). She felt that all those who took life, or altered life in any way, should be forced to pay it back for the rest of their sentence. And that the portion of that which they pay would be dependent on the severity of the said crime. In other words, instead of our inmates sitting in solitary, we have them actually work. Do something for society; earn money. A portion of that money (say 70%) would go to the victim’s family (or families when there is more than one). Should the families not want to be reminded, perhaps there is a charity they would like to set up, or one that they would prefer the money go to… the money should be sent there. But, for the duration of this inmate’s sentence, he/she will pay to the victim/family of the victim. To be a constant reminder to the perpetrator? Yes. But also that they are able to rehabilitate, realize that there is something they can do; something that is productive. Everyone wins in this scenario; especially our society.
Many feel that life in prison is too easy. They say that the prison population has it too good. All they have to do is get their 3 squares, watch T.V., lift weights and play games. To them I ask; really? Followed with; when was the last time you were in prison and how did you survive the shower? Honestly, you expect me to believe that living in a 3’ X 5’ room with a locked door for 23 hours out of the day, with 1 hour for exercise is a great day and easy? You are out of your mind.
Yes the guilty must pay the price and with that I ask that we as society have mercy still. I often say, we need to walk a few miles in another’s shoes. For I honestly do not know how I would have played the hand had I been dealt the cards they were dealt. And for those who have been caught in the crossfire of justice, the innocent like Troy Davis (for there are many and we know there are); I honestly don’t know why it is that justice has turned her eyes away on so many. But I do know with every fiber of my being, that if only 1 (ONE) person is innocent and is executed per year; that’s too many!
We must get beyond the righteousness, because it only blinds us to the justice. I do understand how easy it is to kill just to prove your point and how easy it is to want to be right even when you know you are wrong. But’ Killing’ and ‘Being Right’ won’t bring your loved ones back; however it just might kill an innocent person (only to create yet another victim…). Is this really what Justice is about? I think not.
- U.S. executions, by the numbers (cbsnews.com)
- American Bloodlust (wordsnotbullets.com)
- American’s version of capital punishment is not justice at all (fullcomment.nationalpost.com)
- Troy Davis, the death penalty and the toll executions take (followmehere.com)