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Georgia and Troy Davis on My Mind

Troy Anthony Davis, convicted of shooting an off-duty police officer, will be executed tomorrow in Georgia at 7 pm.

His case has become a cause highlighting the problems with the death penalty. Seven of nine key witnesses who testified to his detriment have recanted their stories, no DNA evidence linked him to the crime, and no weapon was found despite the fact that shell casings from the murder matched shell casings from an earlier shooting for which Davis was convicted. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution for the purposes of having a federal court judge hear the matter, and the judge did not believe the witnesses who recanted. There appears to be a maelstrom of doubt.

Today, the Georgia Pardons Board has denied Davis clemency, and Georgia's governor has no power to grant it. Efforts to get the Chatham District Attorney Larry Chisholm to stop the execution appear to be to no avail, as Chisholm states he has no power to withdraw a death warrant. It looks like Davis' execution will proceed.

I'm not in favor of the death penalty, but I'm not fond of cop killers, either. That said, I would rather let a guilty man live than execute an innocent one. It's not like we don't have time to figure this thing out or stop the gears if there is this much reasonable doubt. The problem is the standard of review for Davis' case is that he would have had to have shown with clear and convincing evidence that no jury would have convicted him had they had the new evidence before them. Why should we require clear and convincing evidence NOT to execute someone when we only require guilt beyond a reasonable doubt TO execute someone? Why don't we require clear and convincing evidence to execute someone in the first place?

I've signed the petition to stop Davis' execution, posted it on my Facebook page, sent emails. Even if Davis is executed, that doesn't mean that the issues of the procedural hurdles and the Georgia governor's inability to grant clemency should die with him. No matter what happens, perhaps the way forward is to get rid of the death penalty altogether or reform how we convict people and sentence them to death. Maybe the way to start is to boycott those states that have executed people whose convictions leave room for reasonable doubt. I hate to say it, but maybe folks of conscience need to stop spending money in Georgia until it reforms its criminal justice system.

I pray for a just resolution and mercy for Troy Davis. I pray for courage for those who have the power to stop this execution, if they exist.

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