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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Troy Davis' Execution (Also, my first foray into political activism) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Troy Davis' Execution (Also, my first foray into political activism)
Raymond Arnold
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Troy Davis to be executed September 21st, despite flimsy evidence connecting him to the crime.

quote:
In the more than two decades that he has been in jail for the murder of white police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, Davis, who is African-American, has maintained his innocence.
And seven out of nine witnesses who gave evidence at his trial in 1991 have recanted or changed their testimony.

No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie Davis to the crime, and other witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man -- a witness who testified against him.

The case has became internationally famous as the face of what critics call a corrupted justice system in the US deep South, with a black man wrongly and hastily convicted of killing a white officer.

I've been meaning to be more politically active for a long while. This week a friend invited me to a Rally supporting Troy Davis. I went, expecting to feel a little silly and out of place, chanting slogans that fell upon deaf ears.

There were plenty of deaf ears, but the good thing about NYC is that for every 20 sets of apathetic bystanders there was someone who approached us, genuinely interested in learning what was going on and contributing at least some small effort to help. And there a LOT of people in NYC, so over two hours I ended up speaking to a sizeable number of people. My only dissatisfaction with the rally was some mixing of political messages (some Marxists were hanging around passing out their own pamphlets), and Amnesty USA didn't print enough flyers, so when we ran out I ended up passing out flyers from some workers' union that put a class warfare spin on the issue. (I'm not necessarily opposed to that idea, but any political issue is going to raise people's memetic defenses, and I think bundling issues together makes people more resistant).

Amnesy International's Petition is here

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Samprimary
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The Troy Davis thing is incredible. Sure, all but two witnesses recanted their police-coerced testimony. Sure, one of the two witnesses who didn't recant their testimony is probably the murderer. Sure, the original 'trial' was a goddamned farce. Sure, he doesn't even remotely meet the standard of evidence that the legal system should have as a bare, garbage-minimum prerequisite for having death or life imprisonment on the table. Sure, even William S. Sessions himself says it's completely, gobsmackingly ridiculous that he hasn't been granted a much-deserved evidentiary hearing or perhaps a real trial.

But hey whatever, he's black and this is the south, gas 'em

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scholarette
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He's black. We all know that black folk are more likely to commit crimes and if you don't kill them, they'll just figure out a way to do something worse (see Texas's upcoming execution- during the sentencing phase, they had an expert witness explain all that).
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
The Troy Davis thing is incredible. Sure, all but two witnesses recanted their police-coerced testimony. Sure, one of the two witnesses who didn't recant their testimony is probably the murderer. Sure, the original 'trial' was a goddamned farce. Sure, he doesn't even remotely meet the standard of evidence that the legal system should have as a bare, garbage-minimum prerequisite for having death or life imprisonment on the table. Sure, even William S. Sessions himself says it's completely, gobsmackingly ridiculous that he hasn't been granted a much-deserved evidentiary hearing or perhaps a real trial.

But hey whatever, he's black and this is the south, gas 'em

Now here's a question I don't know the answer to: can and would President Obama ever pardon this guy? I mean- even just announcing that he has a legal team exploring the case might push the state authorities into taking pre-emptive face saving steps... like giving the guy an actual trial.
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Lyrhawn
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Obama can't pardon him. The presidential pardon power extends only to federal crimes.

As this is a state crime, it would be up to Perry to pardon him.

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Samprimary
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Tell you what, though, I could extend an offer to Perry: pardon this guy or at least do what you can to give him a real trial, and I'll stop thinking that you are a wholly loathesome politician.

I don't think I'm at much risk of having to do change that view, though.

Because it's Perry.

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BlackBlade
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Rick Perry has to pardon him? Isn't he going to be executed by the state of Georgia?
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Samprimary
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whoops, chain hallucination. I guess we're way too eager to associate illegitimate executions with texas.
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scholarette
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Well, I introduced to the discussion the Texas case where they used the rational that the defendant was black as reason to execute him so I probably started all that. [Smile]
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Lyrhawn
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Given Texas' track record in 2011 alone with the sheer number of executions, and the number of problematic, questionable executions, it's no surprise we all managed to derail ourselves. [Smile]

My bad then, it's up to the governor of Georgia to pardon him.

I was reading a case from just a couple days ago in Texas where a man wanted his death sentence commuted to a lower charge. The Supreme Court issued the stay at the last minute (he'd already had his last meal.) Where was Perry? Campaigning. The political ad for Obama writes itself.

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scholarette
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Lyrhawn- that is the case I was referencing. The prosecutor called as a witness some "expert" who basically said black men cannot reform. The other cases where this expert was called where retried as it was clear racism, but not this case. I haven't seen why this case was not retried when the rest were. But it is now waiting for the supreme court to decide. I imagine Perry would say the guy was a murderer, who cares if his sentencing was racially motivated. Just like he dismissed the case of the innocent man who was executed by saying the guy was a wifebeater- no loss there.
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rainboy
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(Post Removed by Janitor Blade. Vicious Spam)

[ September 19, 2011, 09:49 AM: Message edited by: JanitorBlade ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
If u are the people that like to make friends too,just contact me.
yeah, we like to make friends. isn't that right, vinnie? we're friendly people here, yeah
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Raymond Arnold
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So my second foray into political activism was the Occupy Wall Street protest, which I accidentally wandered into. Which was confusing, had no central goal that I could see, and had that sort of amusing "anarchists who all wear the same clothing" thing going on and bunches of college kids vaguely upset and wanting to show off their political tribalism. (Basically, exactly the kind of thing that's caused me to be wary of getting involved with protests for the past few years).

The only coherent goal anyone had was "end capitalism," which does not seem even hypothetically possible or desirable to me.

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Samprimary
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If a guy fawkes mask and some internet memes can't end capitalism, what can?
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Raymond Arnold
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What was really funny was a lot of the guy fawkes masks were being worn... on the back of the head? Sort of like a backwards baseball cap? It actually DID look kinda neat, but seemed to defeat the point.
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Samprimary
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http://i.imgur.com/vbdrW.png
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Raymond Arnold
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According to someone there, it was intended to last through the week, but I give them maybe halfway through Monday before they get bored and go home.
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Mucus
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quote:
The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis' family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer.
...
Davis' case has already taken more unexpected turns than just about any death-penalty case in Georgia history and his innocence claims have attracted international attention. Its resolution was postponed once again when the parole board late Monday announced it would not be making an immediate decision as to whether Davis should live or die.

Davis, 42, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. He was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

http://www.ajc.com/news/parole-board-denies-clemency-1184524.html
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JanitorBlade
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Can I just say guilty or innocent, nobody should be required to believe they are going to die, and be told just hours before their time that they have been given an extension, multiple times.

I understand that sometimes it takes that long to get a stay of execution granted, and that's why we set dates in the future so there is time to do these things, but there's just something serious screwed up with thinking you're going to die, and then being told, "nope not this week".

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Rakeesh
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I wonder how united the surviving family members are on this, or if there's a substantial number of them speaking out? I mean when they're not in front of cameras next to a grieving widow/mother. I have a very difficult time understanding why they would still be certain, "No questions asked," that he is guilty.
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vegimo
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A somewhat inclusive story gives some information on the victim's family. They also provide some depth on what happened the night of the shooting, as well as what evidence was used to link Davis to the murder. It certainly is not conclusive, and there definitely should not be doubt in a death penalty case, so I do think that there should be re-consideration of that penalty. On that long-ago night though, he was a bad, bad man, not an innocent bystander. Whether that determination entered into the jurors' decision, or the subsequent decisions of various boards and officials, is probably the touchiest point of this debate. How much consideration was given, or should have been given, to his behavior over the course of events that led to the shooting?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
On that long-ago night though, he was a bad, bad man, not an innocent bystander.
Well, it really really doesn't matter if he was positively the scum of the Earth that night, if there was reasonable doubt as to whether he committed what he was charged with. That's just very straightforward.

Of course, get some people in a jury and they forget what their duty as Americans actually is and start playing morality cop or 'we just know' prognosticators.

quote:
How much consideration was given, or should have been given, to his behavior over the course of events that led to the shooting?
This is another simple question: none whatsoever. Absolutely none. Can it be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he killed the cop he was convincted of killing? That's a yes/no question. It's designed that way. If you can't answer 'yes' to that question, not only can you not kill the guy, you can't incarcerate him either.

Anyway, the heat that's in this post isn't for you, vegimo, it's aimed at the idea that we can for some reason be anything less than certain in a death penalty case, if we're to have the death penalty at all. It's for the idea that it should somehow be hard to redress things like this when such huge problems arise after the trial, and it's for the idea that the suspect's morality, their character, enters into at all questions of guilt or innocence in a criminal trial. That's a thing for sentencing, not for deciding whether or not he's guilty.

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vegimo
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Agreed, and stated.

The relevant point that does bring his previous behavior into play is that he (allegedly) shot another man in the face earlier in the night with (likely) the same gun that was used to kill the officer. The ability of the prosecution to change the alleged and likely events to certainties in the mind of the jurors is the question.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Well, it really really doesn't matter if he was positively the scum of the Earth that night, if there was reasonable doubt as to whether he committed what he was charged with. That's just very straightforward.
The case is a chiaroscuro of shadows of doubt, but I guess that doesn't matter. I take it that said shadows tend to contrast more legibly against pale skin.
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Geraine
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I don't know all of the details of this case, and I hope they don't kill an innocent man, but I have my doubts about his innocence.

The bullet casings matched the same bullet casings he used earlier that day in a non-lethal shooting, which he was convicted of. A man in a car was shot in the face by Davis because he yelled an obcenity at him.

Some of the winesses changed their story, but it took almost 15 years to do so. If they had doubts, why did it take them that long? Were the witnesses coerced by the police or were they coerced by others that were opposed to the case?

As for being convicted just for being black, I'm sorry, don't buy it. Seven of the jurors on his case were black, so I find it highly improbable that race was a deciding factor.

Unfortunately I think the thing that is holding Troy Davis back the most right now is the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that was passed in 1996.

I wasn't able to find anything about it, but was Troy Davis charged with First Degree or Second Degree murder? If it were considered second degree murder, Cole (the other guy that supposedly shot the cop) is past the statute of limitations and could come out today and say he did it, and the state couldn't do anything about it.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I don't know all of the details of this case, and I hope they don't kill an innocent man, but I have my doubts about his innocence.

"I have my doubts" should be more than sufficient reason to refrain from killing a person.
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Mucus
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Especially an American citizen
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kmbboots
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Though that is, sadly, realistic, I am glad to say that "especially an American citizen" did not occur to me.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I don't know all of the details of this case, and I hope they don't kill an innocent man, but I have my doubts about his innocence.

"I have my doubts" should be more than sufficient reason to refrain from killing a person.
Do I think he did it? Yes. He shot another person earlier and the bullet casings matched. Does what I think really matter? Not one bit. Is the evidence enough to put the guy to death? I don't think so.

So I have my doubts, but the jurors didn't. This is the judicial system we have, and a jury of his peers found him guilty of the crime. I don't like it, but it is the reality. I hope he has a stay of execution, but if it does go through I hope at the very least it will prompt our country to take a closer look at our judicial system and make some much needed changes.

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kmbboots
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Actually, at least three of the jurors do have doubts and have formally asked for clemency.
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MattP
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quote:
Seven of the jurors on his case were black, so I find it highly improbable that race was a deciding factor.
This is a bit of a tangent, but even blacks, on average, tend to have anti-black biases. It's not conscious, but it's fairly easy to test.

The Implicit Association Test is a good measure of this. Try it yourself! The results can be discomfiting to those of us who like to think we're beyond all that.

Then there's experiments like the one in which black students who were merely asked to identify their race on a test form scored significantly lower than black students who took the same test without the race prompt.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
So I have my doubts, but the jurors didn't.
For the sake of argument, let's say none of the jurors had expressed doubts as to his guilt. How many witnesses recanted? How many other people now have reason to be believed they might have killed him? 'Smoke and mirrors' indeed. I'm far from an expert or even a very well informed layman, but it seems to me that the real reason is 'we just don't overturn these things or grant stays if we can possibly help it'.
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AchillesHeel
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I've run into that test, there was even a university student who took the race test on a daily basis and recorded his scores. He found that he scored better on aligning black people with positive terms over a period of time when he was watching a lot of Olympics events that were on at the time. The test and that students findings were covered in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, I would elaborate further but my copy is out on loan. I do remember Gladwell finding it odd that the test said he was negative towards black people, seeing as he himself is half black.
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MattP
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quote:
The test and that students findings were covered in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink.
That's where I was introduced to it as well. Fascinating book, BTW.
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scholarette
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I was unable to accurately identify race from the pictures and therefore my bias can not be determined. Like Colbert, I don't see race.
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jebus202
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quote:
Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between Dark Skin and Light Skin.
I think this gives me clearance for racist humour.
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kmbboots
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Troy Davis has about 30 minutes left.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Troy Davis has about 30 minutes left.

It's not right that he is being put to death, I just can't see the 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Troy Davis has about 30 minutes left.

It's not right that he is being put to death, I just can't see the 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
I do agree with you. I used to be for the death penalty, but over time I've changed my opinion. I just don't see the point. I think he should stay in jail until they can definitively decide whether he did it or not. That being said, that is what trials are for.

I think this whole ordeal says more about our judicial system than it does about Troy Davis.

I also can't fathom what the family of the slain police officer is going through right now. I hope to God that people protesting the execution are not yelling hateful things at them.

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BlackBlade
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US Supreme Court is currently considering a stay of execution right now.
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Geraine
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http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/21/lawyers-file-appeal-to-stay-troy-davis-execution/

This blog seems to be updated just as things happen, it might be a good place to look at if you aren't near a television.

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BlackBlade
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No dice Troy, died about 16 minutes ago.
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Rakeesh
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I must admit, much of my sympathy for the family (those that are personally involved in this process, via the press) has evaporated. I am of course sad that a policeman is dead, and sad that a wife, mother, family etc. are without him now. But they have helped push through, in some small way, the execution of a man we don't know to be guilty. I know the family has claimed it knows he was guilty, but people claim to know things they don't all the time.

I could have sympathy for them acting in support of their cause before it was successful, I think, founded as it must've been on so much anger and grief. Of course this is all a sideshow to the thing that was most responsible for what seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice, our criminal justice system. Geraine's remark about the family is what prompts this post. I don't want anyone shouting hateful things at them either, but speaking for myself it would be difficult to condemn too harshly, in moral terms, their continued call for his death.

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BlackBlade
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I think it's very hard to draw any real conclusion for guilt having almost nobody advocating for the case the prosecution made each time.

SCOTUS certainly stopped this at one time, and now this time without exception said, "No".

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Rakeesh
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Heh, just gabbed about this for a few minutes with my old man. Deeply frustrating. When I pointed out that we could always just kill Davis later if/when these doubts were laid to rest, he said (a not uncommon response), "Who'd want to rot in prison being raped, poor health, etc.?" I replied that first Davis certainly didn't want to die and then it was, "Well of course *he* didn't want die." Then I pointed out that awful prison conditions aren't a *given*, they're just how we do things here. He scoffed very rudely and said "Where isn't it like that?" and demanded statistics on incarceration rates throughout the 'First World'.

When I tried to say that a death penalty case ought to be *perfect*, with no witnesses recanting, he constructed elaborate hypotheticals where the other evidence was enough even in spite of so witnesses recanting. When he mentioned that lots of really smart people had reviewed this case many times, I pointed out that the same could be said of every instance when someone turned out to be innocent. When I asked what whether his supposed victim wanted to die or be shot had to do with anything, he sneered.

Deeply frustrating, that default faith in the system and scorn for hearing it challenged.

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Lyrhawn
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From what I've read, death row inmates don't usually suffer the sort of prison violence that a lot of other average prisoners in max security prisons do.
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Rakeesh
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Oh, sure. That was in reference to the idea of life in prison vs constant death row.

Heh, when I pointed him to reports by our own HHS, about for example prison population growth vs growth in spending...well *then* the point became, "Oh, so rape doesn't happen in other prisons?"

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Godric 2.0
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I tweeted this earlier (multiple tweets) as part of a conversation about Troy Davis:

I hate to invoke Godwin's Law... But take Hitler. Someone I could make an argument for death. He chose death over punishment. Meaning, If the bad guy, or in that case, evil guy (Hitler) chooses death over punishment... Shouldn't we be better than that?

And that doesn't even take into consideration my moral and religious views...

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rivka
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Wait, wait, wait. Because Hitler chose suicide over going through a trial (which would likely have found him guilty of death-penalty offenses), that means executions are always wrong?

That's not Godwin. That's just plain illogical.

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