Stop the Execution of Troy Davis
At 7 p.m. next Wednesday, September 21, the state of Georgia will put Troy Davis to death. In 1991, Davis was sent to death row, convicted of the 1989 murder of Savannah, GA, police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis was convicted on the strength of nine witnesses for the prosecution, in spite of a lack of physical or DNA evidence - and the absence of any smoking gun.
Officer MacPhail's death remains a tragedy. Yet in the nearly two decades since Davis was sent to death row, seven of the nine key witnesses have recanted their testimony, some citing pressure from the police to testify against him.
The American criminal justice system is predicated upon the idea that individuals are innocent until proven guilty. Equally important under criminal law, though, is the concept of a reasonable doubt, namely, that the prosecution must prove its case to the extent that no "reasonable doubt" of the defendant's guilt would exist in the mind of a "reasonable person."
Though the prosecution may have been able to prove that Davis was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the initial trial, the recanting of the witnesses whose testimony put Davis away in the first place can assuredly be seen by this reasonable person (and 600,000 others) as casting reasonable doubt upon Davis' guilt.
No matter your opinion on capital punishment, we should all be able to agree that few horrors are worse than the execution of an innocent man. The doubt surrounding the case of Troy Davis is precisely enough to do just that - send a potentially innocent man to his death.
If this sounds like a miscarriage of justice to you, that's because it is. So make your voice heard, and join us in writing letters to the editor protesting the execution of a potentially innocent man.
Ian Hainline is a 2011-2012 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant.