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Troy Davis execution provokes question of use of capital punishment

By Andrew J. Barnes ’12

Troy Anthony Davis was executed on Sept. 21 at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison by lethal injection for a crime he was found guilty of committing on Aug. 19, 1989.

The Georgia Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the use of capital punishment or the “death penalty,” as it is commonly known, after Davis allegedly murdered a police officer.

According to seven witnesses, Davis shot the police officer outside of a Burger King who was trying to help a homeless man.

Many who have followed the Davis case over the years have believed him to be innocent and that he was wrongly portrayed and unfairly mistreated due to his race.

At first glance, capital punishment would seem fair to some because Davis killed an innocent man; someone who works to protect the law and help fellow citizens.

However, I strongly disagree with the death penalty in any case, no matter how bad the crime is.

Capital punishment really hurts the United States because it costs a lot of time and effort, and it is morally unjust because it involves death.

Davis’ case lasted more than 20 years due to questions of innocence and guilt and whether or not the facts in the case were skewed.

During Davis’ trial in 1991, seven witnesses claimed that they saw Davis shoot the police officer, and two others testified that Davis had confessed to killing the man, according to a USA Today report. Even though no murder weapon was located and no other physical evidence connected Davis to the murder, he was convicted for murder and lesser charges and sentenced to death on Aug. 30, 1991.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on June 23, 2010, four of the witnesses eventually recanted their original testimonies and now believe Davis to be not guilty.

Regardless, after waiting for nearly 16 years on death row, Davis was first scheduled for execution on July 17, 2007, but it was stayed after appeals from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI, Harry Belafonte, Amnesty International and the European Parliament, according to USA Today.

The execution would be stayed another two times over the next few years until Sept. 17, 2011 when more than 600,000 signatures were presented to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles on petitions asking for clemency.

Unfortunately, the clemency was denied and the execution would take place on Sept. 21, 2011.

Davis died at 11:08 p.m. ET by lethal injection.

But beyond the cost of time, the biggest reason capital punishment should be abolished is because it is not morally sound.

Taking one’s life as a punishment for a crime is just as bad as the crime that was committed in the first place.

In no way whatsoever am I condoning what Davis allegedly did, but I do believe that an “eye for an eye” type approach should not be used in our country.

As a nation, we need to recognize that Davis was a human being just like everyone else and everyone deserves a right to live.

At Brophy the day after the execution, students and teachers held a brief prayer service to honor the life of Troy Davis.

I believe it was a great way to show respect for a man who allegedly committed a very harsh crime, but was still treated as one of God’s creations.

In society today, especially in the United States, the death penalty should be abolished because it goes beyond extreme measures to serve as a viable punishment for a crime committed.

The questions that have come up in Davis’ case show there is at least a chance he may not be guilty of the crime.

And now a man who might have been innocent is dead.

That is not justice for anyone.

The best alternative to capital punishment would be serving a life term and performing some kind of service at the institution.

This way, the convict may be able to have a change of soul and be able to recognize his or her wrongdoings.

While the convict does have to spend the rest of his or her life in prison, at least they wouldn’t have to be killed for their crime.

Even though Sept. 21 was a dark day for American history, hopefully we learned as a nation through protests and seemingly mutual disappointment that capital punishment is not the answer in the 21st century.




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