I am not all that familiar with the Troy Davis case. I know that he was executed and there was a great deal of controversy, as many people doubted that he was guilty of the crime. I had been reading headlines on this case for only a few days. I couldn’t even bring myself to read all the details, and I felt sick when I read that the execution was imminent.
I have no idea whether Troy Davis killed a police officer. No idea. But the older I get, the less I approve of capital punishment.
When I was in high school, and all right-wing about it, my civics teacher told our class that between 1900 and 1990, 300 people were executed in the U.S. and later found to be not guilty of the crimes for which they died.
Three hundred. That sunk in. And I talked about it for while. I remember some adult in my life – I don’t think it was one of my parents – heard the stat and said, “You have to believe that most of those 300 were early in the century before the development of modern forensics.”
Maybe. I eventually let it drift to the back of my mind where I store things that I don’t really want to think about anyway.
Then something was found to be rotten in the State of Illinois. Stop laughing. A journalism professor at Northwestern University names David Protess led his students in investigating a whole slew of controversial convictions and the work ended up freeing several prisoners that were wrongly convicted – including some on death row. He has now started a non-profit to continue the work.
The State of Illinois owned the fact that something was wrong. The governor put a moratorium on executions. Later, the assembly abolished the death penalty altogether. It doesn’t really fix the problems on the front line of criminal justice, but with this action, Illinois definitively put a stop to the greatest injustice of all.
I gotta tellya. There is not a whole lot for which to be thankful in my state government. But last night, I was feeling it. Not proud. But..satisfied. That my state got onto the right side of this issue.