From the Harvard University Press Blog:
Last night, in the face of powerful reasons to doubt his guilt, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis. Since his initial conviction, seven of the nine witnesses have either changed or recanted their testimony. Some have said that they were coerced by police to testify against Davis. There’s reason to believe another man committed the murder for which Davis was convicted. Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions calling for a stay. Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, Amnesty International, the Innocence Project, and even a former FBI Directorasked for clemency. But late last night the United States Supreme Court unanimously denied a stay, and Troy Davis was put to death.
What a terribly crass moment to think of hawking books. So forget about that. Nobody here is trying to sell you anything today. But moments like this, when power acts in inexplicable and indefensible ways, are also when we most need the knowledge that books can give. The case of Troy Davis puts us in mind of three books we’ve recently published, a trio that together help us to understand how we’ve arrived at what feels so much like a miscarriage of justice.
The first is William J. Stuntz’s The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, which is looking more and more like the book that many of us have been waiting for. Stuntz, a leading legal scholar who passed away earlier this year, wrote the book in an attempt to help bring this large, multi-faceted issue into focus. The historians, economists, sociologists, and law professors who study crime, criminal justice, and the surrounding politics have had too little to say to each other, he wrote. The Collapse of American Criminal Justice tells the larger story by making the connections so as to better understand why our criminal justice system tolerates so much crime and produces so little justice, especially for poor people and for African Americans. It’s a big, complicated web that Stuntz was uniquely positioned to unravel. The justice system is broken in large part because it’s no longer driven by law, Stuntz found, but instead by the discretion of officials who no longer accurately represent the localities they’re appointed to serve. Discretionary justice too often amounts to discriminatory justice, where police are free to make choices and bend rules and prosecutors are free to pursue cases like the one against Troy Davis. We’ll have more to say about this immensely important book in the months ahead.
Read the rest here.
Over on Facebook, Rev. Otis Moss, of Trinity United Church of Christ, offered these words after hearing of Troy Davis’ execution:
The tragedy of our justice system is the uneven, discriminatory application of the punishment.
The evil of the death penalty is state sponsored death, supported and sponsored by known human imperfection.
The sin of our nation is our hubris in claiming Christianity in one hand and the religion of retaliation in the other.
The ignorance of our americanized faith is that we do not recognize our Savior was a death row inmate, executed unjustly for a crime He did not commit.
Lord Help us,
Then motivate us.
Here is Troy Davis’s final letter to supporters:
I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.
As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.
I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.
So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.
I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,
“I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”
Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!
Already reactions are coming in about the killing of Troy Davis. We wanted to share a sampling of this writing.
At 11:08 p.m. eastern time, the State of Georgia killed Troy Anthony Davis.
The following are some links describing this tragic injustice: