I turned in an assignment this morning about Troy Davis, but it was more about analyzing the differences in attitudes between the families of Troy Davis and the other man executed last night, Lawrence Russell Brewer, than my opinion on the matter.
That might have been for the best, because I’ve still yet to really process my feelings beyond sadness. Obviously, this is another example of how much race and class factor into the way the justice system unjustly handles the death penalty. If the Supreme Court’s refusal to issue a stay of execution for Davis last night but willingness to do the same without issuing reason for a man convicted of rape and murder isn’t a reminder of such, the Georgia parole board doing the same in 2008 for a man who admittedly murdered someone (versus the dubious at best case against Davis) being spared from death in favor of a life sentence certainly is.
Why was his life spared? Because he behaved himself.
At Thursday’s hearing, his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail, according to local media reports. The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.
It’s as disheartening as it is infuriating. If nothing else, I take comfort in the fact that all of this attention has caused people to revisit their stances on the death penalty — including mine. Though I typically viewed the matter on a case by case basis, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to not be against that form of punishment altogether. It just seems more and more barbaric and antiquated — not to mention mercilessly unfair (something I did acknowledge all along, hence the lingering conflict).
In the midst of sadness, I’m encouraged by the people who actually used their voices for a cause bigger than themselves. Doesn’t matter how small or large they did so, the fact is that they did. In the future, though, I hope some people will learn when to shut up and just let people participate. There is no sense in belaboring the point about the bandwagon effect. That is the entire point of bringing about awareness — to get more people to join a particular cause.
I also would love it if people would bite their tongues when compelled to play the roles of Debbie Downer and Captain Obvious. To do so is selfish and self-centered. If there’s anything we can learn from yesterday beyond the fact that legal grievances continue to ugly this country is this: It will take an even greater of amount of selflessness to help end them.