The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports good news for death-penalty opponents: Yesterday, the US Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Troy Davis (no relation), who was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail 17 years a. The ruling came just two hours before Davis was slated to receive a lethal injection at the behest of the state of Georgia.
Davis’ family and supporters, who for years have pressed for a new trial on claims Davis is innocent, broke into tears and song when they learned the high court had at least temporarily postponed the execution.
“I’ve been praying for this moment forever,” said Davis’s sister and most outspoken proponent, Martina Correia. Davis’ mother, Virginia Davis, said God had answered their prayers.
Just a few hours earlier, the mother and sister had given Davis what they thought could be their final good-byes at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
It was the second time that Davis, whose claims of innocence have attracted international attention, was granted a stay hours before he was to be put to death. In July 2007, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles postponed his execution less than 24 hours before it was to occur.
…The US Supreme Court’s justices are scheduled to meet Monday to decide whether to hear Davis’ appeal of a ruling issued by the Georgia Supreme Court in March. In that 4-3 decision, the state Supreme Court rejected Davis’ bid for a new trial or a court hearing to present new evidence.
In its order, the U.S. Supreme Court said if the justices decline to hear Davis’ case, “this stay shall terminate automatically.” If the court agrees to hear the case, the stay will remain in force until the high court issues its ultimate ruling, the order said.
I won’t share the bloodthirsty comments coming from Officer Mac Phail’s family. Any decent person understands their devastation over the case and their deep desire to see what they define as justice, but personally, while wishing them well and praying they find peace and comfort (and enlightenment), I find their words very, very sad. However, if it turns out that Davis is truly innocent, how would they feel if a guiltless man died (as their loved one did)?
At this point, in the opinions of many peace-loving people, Davis’ guilt or innocence is not the point (though of course we pray he didn’t do it). Whether a death-row inmate is innocent or not, state-sanctioned killing is an immoral act that serves nothing save the base retributory demands of a certain audience and some notion that capital punishment saves society money. It would be wonderful if more thought went into what state-approved murder does to the collective soul of the people.
I still await an answer to the bumper-sticker question: Why do we kill people to show that killing is wrong? Even my kid knows that makes no sense.
Read the piece:
If you want to join the fight against state-sanctioned killing by standing up for Troy Davis, take up the call to action. More info on standing against capital punishment is available at Sister Helen Prejean’s Moratorium Project site.