There are days when I’m proud to be an American and then there are days like yesterday. I dislike the death penalty because of its finality. Once the switch is flicked, the poison injected or the trap door on the gallows sprung, it’s over, a life is taken and society has its vengeance, which far too many confuse with justice.
The Troy Davis case was very troublesome because of the recantation of 7 of 9 eyewitnesses and the lack of physical evidence. It’s also troublesome because it shows how hard it is to overturn a death sentence. I recall studying this issue in law school and being horrified at the standard of proof required to admit new evidence in any case. It *should* be hard to overturn a conviction BUT when someone’s life is at stake, the state should proceed with caution. They don’t because that would look soft even if it involved commuting a death sentence to life. That’s the minimum that should have happened in the Davis case.
I live in the death penalty belt.But Louisiana didn’t have an excecution between 2002 and 2010. There seems to have been a covert moratorium under Governors Foster and Blanco; possibly because of the influence of the Catholic Church. Hey, even they get some things right. There has been only 1 execution under Jindal but his raging ambition assures that there will be more. How could he face his Presidential candidate, Rick (Hang ’em High) Perry otherwise?
The oddest thing about the capital punishment debate is that conservatives regard the criminal justice system and the military as the only parts of guvmint that ever work. I don’t get it: like every other human institution they’re flawed and fallible. The same people that vilify the Fed and the “welfare state,” believe that the police only arrest the guilty and that only the wicked are punished. If that were true, Dick Cheney wouldn’t still be on the loose.
Finally, I know this isn’t a proper elegy: I write prose, not poetry. But the word fits my mood today. At the very least an irreversible mistake has been made and, at the worst, an innocent man was killed by the state of Georgia. If the state is going to kill someone, it should be bloody well sure they’re guilty.