Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life and Death and White-Out

You know that saying: 'I wish life was more like a pencil, where I could erase the bad things.  But life is more like a pen; I can white-out the bad things but I can still see the stain that remains.'  (I know I butchered it.  I'm sorry.)

Well, there's a big fat stain on our criminal justice system today.

Now, I'm going to get a little political and I hope I don't offend anyone.  I'm a big proponent of individual rights and would never want to force anyone to believe what I believe simply because I think it's right, but I expect the same respect in return. 

Full disclosure: I am against the death penalty in every instance.  Sentencing someone to death just doesn't sit well with me, no matter how bad a defendant is, how guilty he or she is.  Last night, Troy Davis was executed because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case.  It apparently didn't matter that seven of the nine witnesses recanted their testimony and said that police officers coerced them to do so.  It didn't matter that there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.  Today, he's dead.  There's no reversing that.

I'm not saying he's innocent (though there's a likelihood he was).  But I don't think he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and, more than that, I cannot believe that a jury can sentence a man to death simply because there are eyewitnesses.  People make mistakes.  Everybody lies (has no one watched House, M.D.?).  How can we kill a man based on what nine people have to say, especially when seven of those people admitted to lying?

To say I'm furious is an understatement.  I'm certain people have lost faith in our justice system - a good system that Americans believe in.  It's flawed.  And we have a responsibility to ensure that innocent men aren't sentenced to time in prison, and more than that, aren't sentenced to death.  Now, I can't say I want to abolish the death penalty.  But I think there definitely needs to be more stringent rules before a defendant is sentenced to death.

I guess what it comes down to is answering the question: how many stains on our justice system are we willing to have?

R.I.P. Troy Davis

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