Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis and the Death Penalty

Another hectic few days (headache and hassles of having my wallet ripped off rounding off the week from hell) prevented me from writing about the Troy Davis story but this troubling situation has very much been on my mind, heart and in my prayers.

Longtime readers here know my heart is with the Church on the death penalty. There are rare occasions where it is necessary to protect life and the common good.

This one haunted me. It still haunts me.

For several reasons. Chief among them: This case just didn't come anywhere near being such a threat to the common good that it warranted killing him. He wasn't engineering crimes outside or even inside of the prison.

I've heard it said that the death penalty is 'justice'. Killing for the sake of avenging another's death could never be called justice. At least, not in the land of the just.

Davis proclaimed his innocence right up until his last moments. Only God knows if he was telling the truth but his voice, and a face that lacked any traces of a tormented criminal, added to my anguish.

In his final moments, as Davis was strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, he nodded slightly to his attorney, and then made a statement saying he was not responsible for the 1989 slaying of Mark MacPhail. “I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault,” Davis said.

Davis told his supporters to “continue to fight the fight.”

AP reporter Greg Bluestein, one of five reporters to witness the execution, writes that Davis gave a message to executioners just before he was given the lethal injection, saying: “God have mercy on your souls.”

Very troubling.

Even if he were guilty, in this case, carrying out a lethal injection was barbaric. It just doesn't pass the sniff test when compared to Catholic teaching on the death penalty.

Some people might think "Well, that's easy for you to say. It didn't affect you but this took a son, a father". But actually, I know it all too well. Several years after my father died from smoking at the age of 40, my Mom re-married. My stepfather worked as an Inspector for the T. His beat was downtown Boston. He knew all the police who worked for the City of Boston in that area. One day, somebody robbed a store at Downtown Crossing. He came running out waving the gun in the air. The police chased him, knocked him to the ground. My Mom and stepfather were shopping and when he saw the commotion and a colleague on the ground, he ran over to help. He was killed. The policeman was severely wounded. I won't go into the details of how that act changed our lives, other than to say I'm in the know of what it all means for the people left behind.

You have two choices when something like this happens in life. You can sit on the edge of your seat waiting for the day of revenge or you can let go of the anger and bitterness and give it to God. We chose the latter.

I heard some of the statements of the policeman's family before and after Davis' death. I was disturbed by them. I can't imagine living life and love if we had wrapped it all up in bitterness and revenge. I was sorry to see they were on that road.

I can't think of anyone who was served by it.


StevenD said...

sorry to hear about your Dad and step-Dad...awful

You changed my mind on this.

StevenD said...

thats me Jasper, real name is Steve

Carol said...

Really? Wow, thats cool. Praise be to God!

Thanks for your thoughtful post Steve. God has blessed my life. We all have our victories and losses in life. My story may be different than yours but I didn't mean to imply it was any more burdened...

Mercury said...

Carol, very nice post.

I'm sorry to hear about your step-dad, and your dad. I'm going to remember them in my prayers tonight.

I can't say this changed my mind, because it's already been changed after seeing a lot of the stuff surrounding some of the guys put to death under Rick Perry's watch in Texas.

I can't get over how there are some Catholics who really insist that the death penalty MUST be the answer - if our current system allows for life in prison and that much more chance for repentance, then why not allow for it?

And I'm not saying this guy was innocent per se, but even with our modern forensic methods we still manage to put innocent people to death more often than it's comfortable to admit. That should give one pause.