Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Troy Davis and the Question of Justice

The pending execution of Troy Davis has lead to a lot of protests lately and like a lot of people I'm not entirely convinced that justice is so easily served with death. Unlike Rick Perry, I think justice is a delicate and complicated thing and I think this case merits the outrage.

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The Death Penalty: Why We Fight for Equal Justice from The Atlantic:
Of course, defendants like Duane Buck get more justice than their victims. That's the whole point of our criminal justice system -- and of the rule of law. That's why we outlaw lynching, why angry mobs can't storm jailhouses, and why we have judges. It's why we have a Constitution. In America, we aim to give the guilty more justice than they deserve. We do so because of how that reflects upon us, not upon how it reflects upon the guilty. And when we fail to do so it says more about us than it does about the condemned.

...Here we have a fundamental disconnect between the pro- and anti-death penalty sides. Contrary to what you might otherwise hear, it is both possible and intellectually consistent to be glad that a court has stayed the execution of a condemned man without necessarily being sympathetic to the man himself or disrespectful to his victims. It is possible to see the vindication of rights -- or at least a good-faith effort by judges to vindicate rights -- as a victory in and of itself in our nation's constant struggle for justice under the law. It is possible to separate the sins of the condemned from the subsequent sins of the justice system, and to demand more of the latter than of the former. Indeed, this goes to the very heart of the age-old notion of bringing a measure of dispassionate justice to high and low alike.
If you'd like more information Meg has a good roundup here (which included the article above). At this point we wait and see. I wish I had more to contribute, but I just don't see this issue going away anytime soon.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I am still glued to this case, watching a live stream by Democracy Now and waiting on the SCOTUS to make a decision.

  2. No prob! I was the same way on Twitter like an hour ago.


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