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Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Troy Davis Execution

Unlike many liberals I actually support the death penalty, but the case of Troy Davis is the perfect embodiment of just why the death penalty is protested. In my opinion, the death penalty is only a valid option when three conditions are met: 1) The guilt of the criminal is certain both in the courts and by all available evidence (including non-admissible evidence) 2) The crimes committed are severe enough to warrant a death sentence (child/cop murder, mass murder, etc.) and there are no extenuating circumstances (mental retardation or youth of the criminal) 3) The death penalty isn't racially or economic class dependent. While I have no problem with the existence of a death penalty for our worst criminals, the Troy Davis case was truly a miscarriage of justice and a national (possibly international) disgrace.

Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death two decades ago; due to the lack of substantial physical evidence his conviction was primarily based upon witness testimony, which in recent years has been called into question. Not only have most of the witnesses recanted their testimony, but one of the two witnesses who have not recanted has been implicated as the killer. In addition to the witness identification problems, there have been allegations of police malfeasance in the witness statement process.

Where 7 out of 9 witnesses recant their testimony there is most certainly doubt that that the death penalty is appropriate, even with the presence of physical evidence. In a case where the basis of conviction was evidently flawed witness testimony, and the result of conviction was the death penalty, there should been an immediate review of the situation. Not only did the witnesses recant, but they also describe coaching by the police to get a consistent story coupled by threats of charges if they didn't cooperate. Whether you believe that Davis was guilty or not, nobody can say that they know he was guilty WITHOUT A REASONABLE DOUBT, thus the application of the death penalty was wholly inappropriate.

Even in the face of all of the evidentiary inconsistencies and possible unethical actions of the police, every relevant judicial or executive authority refused to put a permanent stay on the execution, thus Troy Davis was executed yesterday night at 11:00 PM.

In recent years, the Davis case has brought massive amount of public attention and protest from influential figures including politicians, law enforcement officials and even the pope. Even those who support the death penalty look at this case and don't understand what went wrong; where in the face of a mountain of doubt, we executed a man who probably was innocent. What makes this situation so much worse is that those who could have stopped this miscarriage of justice knew about the doubt, could have commuted Davis's sentence to life at no cost to the community welfare or safety and didn't act to save a possible innocent man.

I don't know why Troy Davis wasn't spared, but I fear that it has something to do with the cheering crowds at the Republican debate when Perry was confronted with Texas's death penalty record. Some portion of the population seem to enjoy killing, whether in war or in prison, and they unfortunately miss the point of executions as justice rather than sport.

What happened yesterday night was not justice, it was state sanctioned murder.

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