Troy Anthony Davis, a man prosecuted and convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in 1989, is scheduled to be executed by the State of Georgia tonight. As the US Supreme Court denied Davis’ appeal for a last-minute stay of execution, Davis’ hope for a new trial fades. As I am writing this post, without a last-minute miracle, Davis has approximately 14 minutes left to live.
Death penalty is something I have always felt strongly about – and always been fully against. To me, whether or not Davis is actually innocent or guilty is irrelevant. If he is guilty, he should be sentenced to serve time in jail according to his crime. If he is innocent, he should be let free. If he was convicted, but there are now serious doubts about the reliability of the evidence used in the original trial, he should be allowed a chance of a re-trial. Whatever the case is – He should not be murdered.
Taking his life will not right any previous wrongs, nor will it send any other message to the general public than a message of vengeance. I maintain what I’ve said before – violence cannot be battled with more violence, and justice is not the same as revenge. Sending these types of messages is not only saddening, but dangerous. What kind of citizens does a country foster, if taking a human being’s life is considered to be an act of justice of fairness?
A human life is a human life is a human life. And a human life cannot have a value attached to it – because in this case, there is no middle ground, no grey area. Either each life is equal, or some individuals have more value than others. To me, this is also a clear-cut issue – We are all equal. For most, it is easy to agree with me in regards to issues such as race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other similar qualities. Most of us believe that we are all equal irrespective of our skin color, whether we are men or women, rich or poor – but when it comes to the value of people accused of crimes, people we believe have done something inherently wrong, it is easier to think that their lives somehow are worth less than others. It is easier to think that taking a life is suddenly acceptable – that killing a human being is justifiable. It is not.
Execution is not about justice, nor is it about financial implications of keeping a prisoner alive 0r taking his or her life. We choose to aid the poorest of the poor because it is right – not because it is necessarily financially sensible. We choose to keep the sick alive for as long as we can because their lives are valuable, to the last breath – even though sometimes the measures we take to keep people alive are not only costly, but hopeless. We base actions on the sole belief that a human life is worth saving and protecting every day – even when it does not make sense to do so – but when it comes to prisoners, we turn the other way. Their lives do not matter. They are not worthy of mercy. They are not worthy of rights.
They are. We all are. And though I can relate to the people who think otherwise, I cannot agree with them – because agreeing with them would mean abandoning the one principle that I hold as the most important, most foundational: The principle of equality and universality of human rights, granted to all of us, from the moment we are born. Without it, I would be lost – because if I do not believe in the value of each individual human life, the basis of all the other things I believe in and values I uphold disappears.
Lives get taken away needlessly every day – thousands upon thousands of lives – for reasons such as illnesses, wars, violence, accidents, carelessness, stupidity. I do not believe that state-led execution should be on that list.
Earlier this night, a white supremacist was executed in the state of Texas for brutally murdering a black man by attaching him on the back of a pick-up truck with chains and dragging him behind the truck on asphalt roads. That sickens me. That makes me want to throw up, scream and cry all at the same time. It causes physical pain in me, to think that there are people who commit crimes of such hate, such cruelty. It makes me want to kill that man myself – but if I did, it would be a crime. And it should be a crime for a state to take his life as well – no matter how horrible of a human being this man was. Because his life still had value – just like mine.
Troy Davis was executed a few minutes ago. His life, despite of the crime he allegedly committed, had value to many people in this country, and outside of it. Many stood by his side and fought for him, ’til the last breath – literally. I continue to hope that one day, a life of a human being will also be valued by the justice system of this country – and of all other countries in this world. Before vengeance truly turns this world entirely blind.