One year ago today, Troy Davis was executed, despite a public outcry and heavy doubt about his guilt. We do well to reflect on Troy Davis in order to remind ourselves of the importance of the fight to end the death penalty.
Troy Davis was arrested in 1989 and convicted in the death of police officer Mark MacPhail. From the time of his arrest, Davis proclaimed his innocence. He was convicted mainly on faulty eyewitness testimony, and there was no physical evidence or a murder weapon linking Davis to the case. Of the nine primary witnesses, seven eventually recanted or changed their testimonies. There was simply too much doubt to follow through with the execution of Davis, and yet, the state of Georgia followed through with the sentence. Davis maintained his innocence to the very end.
Both the Davis and the MacPhail family suffered immense heartache through the entire ordeal. The MacPhail family had to endure the pain of reliving the case through twenty years of appeals. The Davis family poured their hearts and souls into saving Troy Davis’ life. His mother passed away two weeks after the execution date was announced. Troy Davis’ biggest supporter, his sister, passed away at the end of 2011, losing her fight with cancer.
The case of Troy Davis is a perfect example of the flaws of our death penalty system. First, the case highlights the urgent concern of innocence in death penalty cases across the nation. Over 140 people have been exonerated from death row, which is a staggering number. The many appeals in the Troy Davis case continually re-victimized officer Mark MacPhail’s family, while also causing immense emotional stress for the Troy Davis family. Finally, the case of Troy Davis highlights the often overlooked issue of how race plays a key role in our death penalty system.
The case of Troy Davis serves as a reminder that we cannot stop our fight to end the death penalty. Perhaps the best way we can honor Troy Davis is to keep up the fight and honor his dying wish of abolishing the death penalty permanently nationwide. Nebraska can be one of the states that continues the trend away from the death penalty. Here are a couple of ways you can get involved both locally and nationally.
Currently in Missouri, what appears to be the next Troy Davis-type of case is unfolding. There is mounting evidence that Reggie Clemons is innocent, and hearings are currently underway to try to prevent his execution. Read more about his case and take action here with our partner Amnesty International.
Locally, your attendance at our upcoming annual fundraising event on October 11th is a wonderful way to connect with others in the movement. Join us as we honor Senator Conrad for her work toward abolition, and hear featured speaker Victoria Coward discuss how she played a fundamental role in the abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut. RSVP today! We hope to see you on October 11th.