September 21, 2011

OPINION: When We Wrongfully Execute Our Citizens - We Kill The American Dream

 I was raised to believe that our country was benevolent. I was taught that our government had the best interest of the people at heart. I was shown that most politicians and public servants were good, and that in our representative democracy, everyone could participate in the process by voting in each election.

We are living in a new society today, and you don’t have to look far for evidence of it. In the GOP Presidential debates - Republicans applaud executions, and deaths, caused by not having health insurance. What happened to “we hold these truths to be self evident that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” also known as the American dream, is a dream we all can share? Right now the “dream” is reserved only for those who can buy it.  And that sucks.

Troy Davis stood before a Georgia court, where he was tried for the murder of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail. He is scheduled to be executed at 7pm eastern daylight time, as he was sentenced to die by a jury of his peers.

According to press accounts, 7 out of 9 witnesses to the murder, have recanted their testimony. They claim they were coerced by police officers to lie, and placed Troy Davis at the scene of the crime. A murder weapon was never found.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness sounds great on paper. It doesn’t sound so great for Troy Davis - because it’s not true for him. Did Troy Davis receive a fair trial? Nope.

In the United States of America, human beings have been serving as jurors, judging whether another human being can live or die. This is a flawed process because humans make mistakes. If one person is wrongly executed, our criminal justice system has failed. The odds are stacked against any defendant where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. If a potential juror states that they are opposed to capital punishment, they are eliminated from the pool of jurors. That’s not fair, and that’s not justice. That makes it impossible for anyone to have a fair trial in a death penalty case.

The pledge of allegiance says that our country embraces “liberty and justice for all.” That hasn’t been the case for a long time, and the Troy Davis case is anything but justice, and very un-American.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole denied clemency to Troy Davis, and by doing so, reinforced the prevailing sentiment that justice is for the privileged, and that the American dream is dying a slow death. It’s a travesty that the state of Georgia is executing Troy Davis today, because he will be taking part of the American dream with him.

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