Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

Troy Davis, Reasonable Doubt and the Lack of Justice

RIP Troy Davis. September 21, 2011 - 1108PM

God bless the dead.

There’s a certain perverse curiousity about the last minutes of a person’s life. I’ve had the misfortune of personally witnessing the last moments of somebody’s life and since that time I’ve often recounted those final hours, minutes, and seconds over and over again.

As of the beginning of this writing, Troy Anthony Davis, is counting down the final minutes of his life. By the time I’m finished, he’ll be dead. And I find myself imaging what that’s like. I can’t help it. Knowing your end is near and knowing the exact time you will move on is a punishment no person should know. Especially this person because based on every recount and recollection of this case, there is absolutely no reason that this man’s life should be history.


It sickens me. It saddens me. I recognize that when a situation touches you that you’re more likely to think irrationally. But because of this case, I’m completely opposed to the death penalty. Since the Innocence Project has come to fruition and proven how many people were falsely convicted (273) I have come to not only not believe in the justice system, I’m downright afraid of it. I’ve always thought that it didn’t have my best interests in mind for racial reasons. But at this point, Troy Davis’s case proves that no matter what evidence you do or don’t have, once somebody decides you are guilty, well you’re guilty.

The State of Georgia decided that this man was supposed to die for a crime for which his guilt was in complete question, even though people from the prison system and politicians who support the death penalty in the state have asked for clemency.

I feel sick. I’ve shed a tear behind this man I don’t know and it’s because of just how unfair it seems. Every person behind bars isn’t innocent. And I have no idea if Troy Davis is either. But as the twitter hashtags and signs and slogans have indicated, there’s too much doubt about this guilt. Try the man again. Let him stay in jail…alive, while we take another crack at it. But to actually kill somebody, especially in this circumstance is not what even the most rightwing, death penalty advocate would want. Nobody ever wants to kill the wrong person for justice.

I don’t know how much information the individuals who have to administer the lethal injection have about the case or how they feel but I truly feel sorry for any prison staffer who has to partake in this execution.

And to be fair, let me say I truly feel for the family of the slain police officer. At the end of the day, they lost a father who was really doing nothing more than being a good guy and doing his job while he was off duty. A crime was committed and the responsible person should be paying the price. I sympathize with their plight because the entire case has flipped into not being about the slain officer. But if potentially killing the wrong man is more important than getting actual justice then we’re all worse off. Including the family of the slain officer. Ironic since the police officer’s job was to seek justice.

1108pm. The moment when every statement about our country’s belief in truth, justice, and the American way was proven to be bullshit.

The thing is, as a Black man I never believed in it anyway. And yet I’m still disappointed. I still WANT to believe that all the evidence in the world would keep me alive. What I hope more is that the memory of Troy Davis causes people to continue to care and make some sort of difference. In fact, what concerns me most is that our general short memory doesn’t make this week the last time we hear about Troy Davis. We tend to care while something seems to matter and then its on to the next thing. But this case is bigger than Troy Davis which I think was evidenced by the huge amount of attention this case drew. I hope somehow it stays that way, though my optimism has short legs.

God bless the dead.

RIP Troy Davis.

RIP justice…again.

How a man can be killed even though nobody is positive he did it, I’ll never know. But I’m also not that flawed. I hope this is a wake up call to somebody. I hope.

What are your thoughts? Please, share it all.


Filed Under:
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • The Other Jerome

    Furious… and sad…. and helpless….. which makes me furious again! Can we sue these bastards?

  • Unfortunately, people are always going to be wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. It’s a sad reality. But there is a difference between having a person sitting in a cell for 20 years when wrongly convicted and having him, oh I dunno, PUT TO DEATH!

    To be honest, I’m not sure if Troy Davis is completely innocent. But isnt’ that the point? If intelligent people can debate his innocence then it is reprehensible to execute them.


  • Green_Means

    “Nobody ever wants to kill the wrong person for justice.” That’s a good point. It is frustrating that all of us well-meaning people could do nothing to stop it.

  • I’m truly at a loss for words.

    Something inside of me had some sort of hope, some sort of…lack of cynicism that they would actually leave him alive while they worked to see if their initial conviction had legs to stand on, or if in fact, he was not guilty of the crime that he was sentenced to die for. I also can’t even fathom what it is to look people in the face who are being paid to take your life, and on the flip, I can’t imagine being the one that has to administer the injection or participate in any part of the process. Yes, this was what, the 4th time he tried to get a stay of his execution? I can’t imagine going through the emotional turmoil of wondering if this will be the time that my case is finally reviewed, and they finally may see after all that I didn’t do it. Even if he did commit the crime, there was just way too much doubt surrounding the entire situation for my liking…which makes me wonder just how many other current cases there are like his out there right now. Like you, Panama, I’m disappointed. Something in me thought that this would have ended differently…

  • No thoughts…just sadness…just deep sadness…but why am I surprised…aint a damn thing changed….

  • TrackStar

    At my university today I had the privilege to hear a distinguished professor speak about racial disparities. Her best quote was “You can’t tell me racism isn’t alive when as we sit here Casey Anthony is free because of reasonable doubt and Troy Davis will die today despite reasonable doubt.” That about sums up our system to me. A woman who had the decomposing body of her child in her car is still walking this Earth, and Troy Davis isn’t. RIP.

  • Sanjanette

    I read you blog every day, and this is the first time I am posting. I graduated from law school and I am now waiting on my bar exam results. I have completely lost my faith in a system that I wanted to change from the inside. My heart is broken for both of the families involved. I thought maybe someone would stand up and do the right thing, but my idealism surely got the best of me tonight. I am sad that I remember most of the terrible things that have happened to me personally, and the ones that did not involve me, and I really thought I could help. Sadly, I have come to the realization that the system is too big and too corrupt. The question now is…where do I go from here?

  • Tina

    What will keep this man alive in memory is something that my friend says, “I am Troy Davis” Anyone who is at the mercy of this flawed justice system is Troy Davis. We are Troy Davis. R.I.P.

  • SweetMagnoliaBrown

    I’m numb. Saddened. Hoping against hope that I don’t give up all hope. My faith in people, not this country, has taken a serious beating. I can’t say I ever had much faith in this country. The longer I live in Georgia and work for state government, the sadder I grow each year. Mind boggling the things these so-called representatives of the people believe and do in the name of that belief. Surely we know not what we do. This sh*t just seems bizarre to me. So extremely bizarre.

  • LSQ

    It’s quite a complex and sad thing. But did it really take this to realize how flawed our system of justice is? I guess things like this make us sit up and take notice.
    We incarcerate at a higher rate than anyone else. Is it working? We incarcerate for possession of drugs -why? That sho ain’t working.
    A man’s freedom and life shouldn’t be taken away so lightly.
    Maybe this’ll make people become more involved in state / local politics to get rid of the death penalty and reform the penal/corrections system.

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