This is what William S. Sessions, FBI director under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, wrote recently in an op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on behalf of Troy Davis who will be executed on Tuesday by lethal injection in Georgia.
Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.
Please go to the Amnesty International USA Action Center and send an urgent message to the State Board of Pardons & Paroles asking for clemency in this case.
From a Guardian blog:
“There are three things that are clear from Davis’ case. The first is that the American legal system does not administer blind justice. Lady Liberty will open her eyes for cash. Had he been wealthy – or just wealthier – he could have bought a defense in time that would [have] effectively challenged the case.
Second is that these laws passed in the wake of terrorist attacks [a law passed by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, which restricts federal courts in their ability to overturn death penalty convictions] have far-reaching consequences beyond those initially intended. They weaken all of our rights and in so doing could threaten any of us at any time.
Finally, that the death penalty is a barbaric practice that has no place in the 21st century, let alone in a nation that seeks to hold up its values and practices as a global standard.”
Truly a barbaric practice; a practice that is associating the United States with a number of rather questionable nations: according to a Wikipedia entry, the six countries where 91% of all known executions in 2006 were carried out, are: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States. Not quite the list of model democracies. While Texas has performed more executions than any other state since the resumption of the death penalty in 1976, some states and US territories currently don’t have death penalty statutes: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The civilized states.
P.S.: According to cnn.com, Troy Davis just got a reprieve: the state Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a stay of execution of up to 90 days, which means the execution will be on hold while the board can examine new evidence.