When Justice Fails

As I sit in the library, wading through history readings about the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, I grow distracted. Of course, I am interested in my country’s history; it’s just hard to imagine, let alone keep my concentration on the concept that ‘liberty and justice for all’ was once a unique idea championed by the founders of our country to protect our natural rights. Heady stuff, right? So I took a study break, turned to my computer, and immediately realized through Twitter that Troy Davis was going to be executed by lethal injection in less than 10 minutes.

I learned about the Troy Davis case a couple weeks ago, when The New York Times did a cover article about his fourth appearance on death row. For those who don’t know, Troy Davis was convicted of the first-degree murder of an off-duty policeman in Georgia twenty years ago. After three previous visits to death row, one Supreme Court intervention, no DNA evidence and the recanting of 7 of the 9 original witnesses, Troy Davis is still on death row and about to die.

The public outcry against Troy Davis’ execution has been overwhelming. On a petition for Troy Davis’ survival, more than 630,000 signatures on a from celebrities, religious and government leaders and people from every corner of the world have been delivered to the district court in Georgia, according to The Epoch Times. Thousands frantically petitioned, literally and figuratively crying out in anyway possible after the Georgian clemency board denied a stay of execution. Meanwhile, Davis advocates worked all Wednesday afternoon trying to get the Supreme Court to step in and prevent the execution.

But this time, the federal government failed to even issue a response. When Troy Davis was committed early Wednesday by the clemency board in Georgia, the federal government did nothing. It ignored thousands of Americans, and the principles upon which our country was founded in allowing a potentially innocent man to die.

Think of the political stagnation permeating our country right now; the president is bending under criticism for getting nothing done and not representing his voters, the Republican candidates are all indistinguishable in their thirst for power, and Congress, let alone every single political figure in Washington, is threatening the future of our country by fighting for personal gain and reelection. Lately, the divided and corrupted political structure of our country has not performed with the protection of the people and their interests in mind.

When an American citizen’s rights are encroached upon, when his liberty and ‘natural rights’ are taken away, our elected leaders should not turn a blind eye. After all, our government is supposed to be based on accurately representing the will and protecting the freedom of each and every American citizen.

It is clear that most of the evidence from Troy Davis’ first trial twenty years ago has been disproven and discredited. His innocence is not confirmed, but it is the duty of the law to protect him until he is undeniably proven guilty.

In America one is innocent until proven guilty. Juries exist to determine whether sufficient evidence in a case and to act as a random sample of the population. Moreover, the judge rules over the entire proceedings and makes an informed decision.

The law itself, like logic and math, does not bend. So the problem, like so many before and after Troy Davis’ case, lies in the people who make decisions. Even after a civil war and multiple other struggles for individuals’ rights, we live in a country extremely divided. Simply, racism, sexism and homophobia persist across America, and it is clear racism affected this case like so many before it. This should not endure in America in 2011.

I just learned that, at the very last minute, there has been a delay in the proceedings because the Supreme Court has stepped in. That was close. Too close, and not enough. His death has been delayed for the 4th time—how cruel and unjust is that? It is impossible to let every innocent or even possibly innocent person go to Death Row with only the Supreme Court as his or her final hope. The odds are always against .

Imagine you were caught at the wrong place at the wrong time and convicted. Maybe you didn’t have 5,000 Facebook friends, a rich dedicated family or a friend in the government who could fight for your cause and demand that your rights as a US citizen be acknowledged.

At 11:08 p.m. on Septemeber 21, Troy Davis was declared dead after the Supreme Court rescinded, without explanation, their previously requested delay. Take note that even in 2011, when there is a lack of evidence, no murder weapon, and vague accounts from witnesses, still people hold fast to the belief the victim is guilty. The law failed to protect and save Troy Davis, and prejudice swayed the moral consciousness of men. This is injustice of the worst kind.

Sam Koffman is a three-year Upper from Princeton, NJ.