Georgia has had its share of chances to spare Troy Davis' life. Despite persistent doubt that the death-row inmate is guilty of the crime of which he was convicted, the state has scheduled his execution four separate times. It's now slated for this Wednesday, September 21, at 7:00pm local time. (No word yet as to whether they plan to videotape it, as they did another execution earlier this year.)
His latest appeal was denied again this morning:
Georgia's pardons board rejected clemency for Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite high-profile support from figures including an ex-president and a former FBI director for the claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989...The decision appeared to leave Davis with little chance of avoiding the execution date. Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis' last option, but he didn't rule out filing another legal appeal.
Mr. Davis' supporters are legion. Along with organizations like Amnesty International, they include: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former FBI director William Sessions, 51 members of the US Congress, many celebrities and activists (including the Wu Tang Clan), the entire European Union and our guest last week, former President Jimmy Carter. Oh, and a man named Pope Benedict XVI. But Georgia and its Republican governor, Nathan Deal, have remained steadfast. Why?
I'm not suggesting the state should bow to the pressures of Mr. Davis' supporters, just because. This isn't about trusting his word that he's innocent. It's about trusting the evidence. What is so incredible about this case is not that the state of Georgia doesn't believe he's innocent. It is the ironclad certainty that he is guilty. Guilty, despite all of the faulty witnesses and misstatements and utter lack of forensic or DNA evidence. #TooMuchDoubt, indeed.
I'm reminded of Texas Governor Rick Perry, stating at the recent Republican presidential debate on msnbc that, in essence, he trusts the system implicitly, and that he "hasn't struggled" with the record number of prisoners Texas has killed during his administration. Clearly, those decisions aren't weighing on Mr. Perry's conscience. But when it comes to state-sponsored killing, can we afford to let it be about conscience at all? Morals and personal conviction can be as different as fingerprints. Facts, however, should not be so elastic.
I get why the family supports the execution, I truly do. I've been in their shoes, convinced that the death of the person who murdered my loved one is somehow justice manifesting itself. But in terms of the state, justice isn't justice if it's blind to the facts -- or the doubt.
ONE MORE THING.
Via Amnesty International's Facebook page, a message today from Troy Davis himself:
"The struggle for justice doesn't end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I'm in good spirits and I'm prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I've taken my last breath."
On tonight's show, we'll have much more on this case. We hope that you tune in.