independent

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Troy Davis' execution causes outrage

DEBORAH COLEMAN

THE EXECUTION of Troy Davis in Georgia prompted much debate over the death penalty this week. After years on death row since his 1991 conviction, and four dates set for execution Davis, who was convicted of murdering a police officer, the lethal injection was administered. Fifteen minutes later he was dead.

The act has prompted outrage from human rights groups, most notably Amnesty International which is vehemently opposed to such a penalty. Many people see this as a black and white issue. They are either in favour of the death penalty or not. Simple? I don't agree.

On the surface I would like to think that I am humanitarian enough to condemn the killing of anyone. They are after all, somebody's child and killer or not, their death will break the heart of someone in the world. That said, I doubt the relatives of any murder victim would agree with this. They would see their loved one's murderer as scum whose death would rid the world of their evil.

The thing is, I can't imagine that the death of a murderer would really heal any hurt a bereaved family feels. It won't bring the victim back and won't comfort a family in their loss. Maybe it would help them to move on with their own lives and draw a horrific saga to some sort of conclusion. Having to sit and watch anyone receive the death penalty would be the stuff of nightmares and with the emotional ties of a violated family thrown into the mix I imagine this could only compound grief, not extinguish it.

It seems like such an antiquated way to punish a criminal, a barbaric and unnecessarily cruel act. Those responsible for executing a criminal are taking a life, just as the murderer on death row did.

Admittedly, not in the same manner but the result is the same but in the end a person's life is taken.

Many would argue that life in prison, and by that I mean for the rest of their life, would be an even worse fate. To have nothing to live for or no future in the real world ahead of you would kill a person's spirit and it could be argued that the death penalty gives them an out.

But as the Bible says 'an eye for an eye'. Isn't that what death penalty advocates use as a argument? In theory this would mean that the score would be settled, that the loss would be equal on both sides.

Surely as a society we have evolved enough to realise that the death penalty serves no positive purpose today. There are arguments that having the death penalty in place deters murderers but this doesn't wash.

One only has to open any newspaper on any day and see all the horrific murders that take place across the globe. I doubt anyone capable of murder thinks about the consequences. They simply never imagine they will be caught.

Troy Davis pleaded innocence until the day he died and while the jury had no doubt in its verdict-what if he was innocent?

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