October 4, 2011

Troy Davis’ execution: Questioning the US judicial system

By Michelle Eigenheer–

The controversial execution of Troy Davis, convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer, has sparked numerous protests and criticisms of the United States criminal justice system.

Just before the execution date, several questions were raised about Davis’ conviction as some witnesses altered their stories and introduced the possibility that another man had been the one to pull the trigger that killed police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis appealed for clemency and, to the horror of many people across the U.S., his appeal was rejected. Troy Davis was executed Sept. 21, 2011.

At the root of this issue is the controversial idea of capital punishment. Many people do not agree with the right of a state to sentence a person to death based on their crimes, citing the 8th Amendment and its banishment of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

However, the job of the criminal justice system is just what it implies – to enact justice. Justice, in the full sense of the word, is the idea that a person must pay the full consequences of his or her actions. In laymen’s terms, the punishment for a crime must be equal to the act itself. To take a life means that justice will be enacted with the forfeit of your own life.

No system is perfect, so it is doubtful that no other potentially innocent man was ever executed. What makes Davis any different? The protests against Troy Davis’ execution held an air of complete racism and victimization that it is almost sickening. Many people held signs demanding that the government “stop legal lynching,” presumably in reference to the number of blacks who suffered death at the hands of extreme racist groups several decades ago.

Troy Davis was far from being a wholesome man. Prior to the 1986 incident that killed Officer MacPhail, Davis had been charged in another shooting case. Though it’s probably insensitive to say, the world has not been made a worse place by this man’s execution.

While it may be unfortunate that Troy Davis died with questions surrounding his guilt, many people seem to forget that the man did, in fact, have a trial. Davis was convicted by a jury of his peers. He was not singled out for his race or any other factor and then unfairly sentenced, as many protestors seem to think.

Rather than blaming the government for allowing capital punishment, the American people should be questioning the necessity for it. Instead of criticizing a government that does what it is expected to by holding criminals accountable for their actions, society should look at itself and ask how it could produce people worthy of capital punishment. It is American society that raises murderers, not the American government.

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Photo: Caitlin Williams/The Louisville Cardinal

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