A lot of people have been mobilized by the Troy Davis case, especially in the past few days. You called and emailed elected officials; you petitioned political appointees; you demanded that people be held accountable for a decision that put proper procedure ahead of anything else. But what will all of you do tomorrow? Will you dedicate yourselves to putting an end to the system whose flaws became so apparent to so many tonight? Or will you forget about the continued injustice of the death penalty until the next Troy Davis is moved to the death house? You have many other legitimate concerns in your daily lives and many other important issues that demand your attention. But you cared so much this time; do you think you can continue to care about the brokenness of our justice system as you do right now, tonight?
It is always amazing that the same people who complain that government is incompetent at everything else is infallible in the one area where mistakes result in the most egregious, irrevocable injury the state can possibly inflict.
the map of the trending of troy davis today on twitter via @johnstuttle http://twitter.com/#!/johnstuttle/status/116677270751559680
This just makes me sick.
I think it’s right and proper that, for today, the attention of politically aware people is focused on Troy Davis, not Lawrence Brewer. The latter could be a poster boy for capital punishment: there’s no question of his guilt or the callousness of his crime.
But I will always think it bizarre that our society apparently believes it proper to treat a murderer in more or less the same way he treated his innocent victim. That, to me, isn’t justice. There are better ways to affirm the dignity of human beings. So I’ve signed all the petitions and made the phone calls for Troy Davis, but consider this my thought for Lawrence Brewer, a man, no matter how lost, Texas should not have killed.
I’ve taken a few swipes at the so-called pro-life crowd over the past couple of weeks, mostly as a result of statements by the candidates and the behavior of audience members at the two most recent GOP debates. My argument has been, I think, fairly straightforward: If you say that you hold human life to be sacred, for whatever reason, then you can’t also cheer about people’s deaths — even if they’re people you don’t like or with whom you don’t identify, like criminals or the uninsured.
Now, from Mississippi, we have a stark contrast:
The family of an African-American man who died after allegedly being beaten by a group of white teens and run over by a truck is asking state and federal officials not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Relatives of James Craig Anderson, who died shortly after receiving his injuries on June 26, sent a letter with their request to the prosecutor in the case, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.
“We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James’ murder,” the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson’s sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate.
The letter states that the family is opposed to the death penalty partly for religious convictions.
“Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well,” the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi’s racial past.
“We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites,” the letter states. “Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”
This family is pro-life.
They argue that the death penalty violates the core tenets of their religion and they argue that it is bound up with societal injustices that have deep roots in our history. Public and non-public reasons are being employed here, and you can take your pick as to which you find to be compelling. But even if you aren’t convinced by either one of the arguments they make, you have to agree that this is what a pro-life position looks like.
Now … what do you suppose the prosecutor will do?
There’s too much doubt to execute Troy Davis!
If you haven’t already, please sign this petition and pass it along. Thank You.
|—||Andrew Sullivan on the debate crowd’s positive response to the large number of executions that Perry resided over while governor of Texas. (via liberal-life)|
In his nearly 11 years as chief executive, Perry, now running for the GOP presidential nomination, has overseen more executions than any governor in modern history: 234 and counting. That’s more than the combined total in next two states — Oklahoma and Virginia — since the death penalty was restored 35 years ago.
The number is partly explained by sheer longevity at the helm of a huge state that has mastered the complicated legal maze of carrying out capital punishment.
But Perry has hardly shrunk from the task.
As the 2012 presidential race unfolds, Perry’s record will inevitably become part of the debate in a country where the number of death sentences handed down continues to fall, and some states are renouncing executions.
…the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit criminal-defense and civil rights law and advocacy firm, released yet another in a series of reports that clearly demonstrate that the criminal-justice system, especially in the South, is broken and dangerously on the brink of illegitimacy.
The EJI’s latest report (pdf) focuses on a little-known practice, permitted in only three states: judicial override. Florida, Delaware and Alabama allow judges to overturn jury-sentencing verdicts in death penalty cases. There are no individuals on death row in Delaware as a result of judicial override, and no judge has imposed a capital punishment override in Florida in the last 12 years. But according to the EJI report, judicial override in Alabama is almost always exercised to impose the death penalty when a jury has recommended life in prison. In fact, although judges have the authority under Alabama law to override a jury’s sentence of death and to instead impose a life sentence, 92 percent of judicial overrides are used to order death.
According to EJI estimates, there are 40 men on death row in Alabama who were placed there after a judge overrode a jury’s sentence of life in prison. Given that Alabama imposes few obstacles to the imposition of the death penalty by juries (a death sentence does not require a unanimous verdict in Alabama — the agreement of 10 of 12 jurors is sufficient), and that jurors opposed to capital punishment are excluded from serving on Alabama juries, judicial overrides to impose death are particularly alarming. But these judicial overrides have not provoked charges of “activist judging,” confirming that the charge of judicial activism has simply become right-wing shorthand to describe a judge whose independence gets in the way of the conservative agenda.
Yet another devastating revelation is the evidence that judges override juries to impose the death penalty more often in a judicial election year. If one plus one still equals two, this is among the most searing indictments of judicial elections (still used in 38 states). It suggests that in some instances, judges, feeling the pressure of upcoming election contests, may either consciously or unconsciously make decisions that will shore up their “tough on crime” bonafides.
Governor Rick Perry of Texas, along with 5 conservative justices on the Supreme Court, allowed the execution of a Mexican national to go forward after spurning appeals from the Obama administration, top military leaders, diplomats, lawyers, and former government officials. His execution has “caused a breach of international law” and has “put American lives abroad at risk.” Under the Vienna Convention, Humberto Leal Garcia was entitled to contact the Mexican consulate for support and advice upon his arrest. However, because Leal had been living in the United States since age two, he was unaware of his rights. Yet, in spite of being aware that Leal was a foreign national, the Texas authorities neglected to inform him of his rights.
Perry and conservatives on the Supreme Court have displayed an utter disregard to international law and obligations. Their actions and inactions have not only put the lives of Americans abroad in jeopardy, but also the credibility of the United States government in serious doubt.