On Wednesday, the state of Georgia will execute Troy Davis for the 1989 murder of police office Mark MacPhail. Since Davis was convicted in 1991, 7 of the prosecution’s 9 witnesses have recanted their statements, and have repeatedly given testimony to courts and to the media that their testimony was coerced. Additional witnesses have come forward implicating Sylvester “Redd” Coles, another person at the scene for the murder. Not only did Coles brag to others about the crime, but he was the first to finger Troy Davis for the murder. Three of the original jurors have also come forward with signed affidavits which indicate that they would not have voted for Troy Davis’ guilt had they known then what they know now. Finally, there is no physical evidence of any sort linking Davis to the crime.
I have never supported the death penalty. It's an archaic form of punishment that neither does what supporters argue it does (i.e. deter others from committing similar crimes), nor is it in any shape or form compassionate. I can imagine there's plenty of disagreement on this, even amongst Buddhists and yoga practitioners - but I believe that the continued use of the death penalty here in the U.S. is a travesty. And yet another way in which we don't come anywhere near the image of the "great nation and world leader" so many Americans believe in.
Furthermore, there are all sorts of highly problematic race issues with the way the death penalty is executed here. Consider that the vast majority of people on death row are there for killing white folks. And while African-Americans are approximately 12.5% of the U.S. population, they make up 35% of the executions since 1976. In my opinion, this is one of the not so hidden examples of the lingering legacy of the Jim Crow era.
As a Buddhist and yogi, I also find that the death penalty is built around a notion of fixed personalities. It suggests that once a person has committed a serious crime, such as murder, they are forever a murderer. That they cannot change. Something I think is absolute nonsense.
It's completely true that some folks probably will never be able to turn themselves around enough to return to "regular society." In states where the death penalty is off the table, inmates who committed horrific crimes often live the rest of their lives out behind bars. However, they still get the chance to wake up to the damage they've done. To see through the delusions that led them down a path of misery and hell making. To witness something much deeper than themselves as they were in the past.
The death penalty takes that opportunity away. And is, for those who are cost conscious, more expensive for taxpayers in the process. In my opinion, it's a failure all around, and needs to disappear.
Although the current news out of Georgia isn't good, if you want to call and express your support for Davis, or sign the petition, see info below.
To get involved, contact:
Gov. Deal of Georgia: 404-656-1776
State Board of Pardons and Paroles: 404-656-5651
Sign Amnesty International’s petition.