Friday, September 23, 2011

The Death of Mr. Davis

Two days ago Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia for the killing of a Savannah police officer. No murder weapon was ever found, seven of nine witnesses had recanted, yet despite concerns of the verdict the sentence proceeded. Outside the jail, people protested hoping that the inevitable would be delayed. The police officer's family stated that they were grimly satisfied--justice had been done.

I'm opposed to the death plenty on moral and legal grounds (though here is the best defense of the death penalty I've seen in a while). But this case strikes at something deeper than the death of a potentially innocent man.

Our judicial system is broken. Judges are over-taxed and underpaid, defense attorneys have too many clients, and prosecutors want to a guilty verdict no matter what. The incentives are wrong. If you are poor and unlucky you'll probably be stuck with a poor defense. And once you are guilty you'll be sent to the hell of prison, where we'll turn you into a real criminal.

Our system gets worse the farther along you go. Too often prisons are run for the prison guards. Violence and rape and all sorts of horrors are endemic. We send people to hell, hoping that they'll be angels when they get out. And once they are out we leave them on the street, hoping that they won't steal or commit a crime, but not providing any opportunity for success.

Justice is not being served.

1 comment:

  1. This is a nice post, because Troy Davis' execution is truly a tragedy.

    Also. I read the defense of capital punishment that you posted and had a thought worth sharing that seems to overrule such defenses. Here's a quote:

    "There are rejoinders: someone who is wrongly executed cannot ever be compensated, but can someone who was wrongly imprisoned for 10 years ever truly (truly is italicized) be compensated in any meaningful way?"

    It's like the emphasis makes the point. Can you ever really compensate a wrongful imprisonment? Well, yes. Yeah, but REALLY? REALLY!!!!?
    Yes. IT's a wrong, but there is a chance to repair the problem. At least to try. Wrongful execution, well, you can't even try.