Troy Davis and Capital Punishment in the U.S.

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Troy Davis–the man about whose case former FBI director William S. Sessions has written “What quickly will become apparent is that serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction”–was executed by the state of Georgia last night at 11:08pm.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer. There’s not much I can add to the discussion around this case. If you’re looking for insightful writing on it, there’s Mother Jones’coverage, this from The Nation editors, an impassioned plea at In These Times, and of course Amnesty International, which has used Davis’ visage in their campaign to abolish the death penalty. There, too, is the video below of Democracy Now’sAmy Goodman reporting from Georgia last night.

As many others have stated, this execution is not only about Troy Davis. It is, and especially now should be, a time to reflect on this country’s use of the death penalty. To add to that conversation, here are some articles from our November-December 2010 issue about capital punishment in the U.S.

The Suninterviews legendary capital punishment opponent Sister Helen Prejean:

According to Amnesty International, 93 percent of the world’s executions take place in five countries: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and the United States. Why is our government on such a list?

The death penalty is a natural outgrowth of our long history of using violence to achieve our ends. We’re a very young country, and violence has worked for us in the past. It began with the settling of this continent and the genocide against Native Americans, then continued when we brought slaves over.

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The Texas Observer’s Robert Leleux takes a very hard look at executions in the Lone Star State:

One of the things about the death penalty is that, because convicted killers (for a whole variety of reasons) aren’t typically white, middle-class honor students, with reputations for being kindly, wholesome people, it’s very easy for middle-class people like me to presume that folks on death row are people from “over there.” Folks from another, meaner America–that hard, irredeemable underbelly of the nation’s poverty and crime. You know, the kind of place you see on Cops.

Of course, there are so many things wrong with this presumption that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Continue reading >>

And finally, as an online extra to those two articles, here is a blog post with a number of resources from around the web about executions in the U.S.

Source: Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, In These Times, Amnesty International, The Sun, The Nation, The Texas Observer

Image by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, licensed under Creative Commons.

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