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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Does It Matter That Condemned Man Troy Davis Was Black?

Troy Anthony Davis to die September 21.
On Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm ET, Troy Anthony Davis was put to death by lethal injection in Georgia for killing an off-duty police officer in 1989. (Story updated September 23, 2011) If you've hung around this blog, you know that I am against state sponsored murder - aka The Death Penalty. Davis could have been innocent, and unless he is granted clemency at the last minute, he will die on Wednesday for a crime many say he did not commit. There are two issues at hand here and I'll explain.

First, the death penalty is simply revenge and something that earns prosecutors merit badges. Life without parole serves the same basic purpose as punishment - extricating the criminal from society for the balance of his or her natural life. They can only hurt other prisoners or guards behind bars, but they will no longer be a threat to society.

Death penalty sentences are extremely expensive. On average, it costs about $30,000 to house a prisoner for a year. If they are in prison 30 years - not figuring inflation - it will cost under $1 Million to house that prisoner for that term. A death penalty case, with appeals, can cost upwards of $2 Million and will take thousands of man hours to get the offender to the needle. On average, it takes 20 years to get a person to the death house, once convicted and sentenced.

It seems like states could save a lot of money, time and effort by just locking away egregious offenders for life, with no chance of parole. But prosecutors look at death sentences as resume highlights and use them to bolster their careers. Killing is killing, whether the state does it or the criminal does it. Someone dies unnecessarily. And with the number of cases rising where new evidence is proving that condemned criminals are in fact innocent, it's time we really rethink how society deals with its worst offenders. Troy Anthony Davis may be as much a victim of society as the officer he was accused of killing.

What struck my eye on Monday on Twitter was a tweet by mogul Russell Simmons. "Innocent black man to get death penalty unless we act." - a link was added.

I've written about death row inmate, Michael Flinner, and his case. I've never identified him as white. I've written several posts about condemn serial killer Anthony Sowell and never made issue or mention of his race. What difference does it make if Troy Davis is black? Why did Russell Simmons feel it was necessary to identify him as a "black man"? He's a man. He may be innocent. Isn't that enough?

I see this all the time, people or groups having to identify themselves by their race. That seems to be the way minorities feel they can unify and work their way up through society. Think of the fervor that would billow if you saw articles, "Save a white man" or "The White TV Awards."

There are men and women of all races that are falsely accused of crimes. Race is not an issue. There are awards programs and lots of recognition that is inclusive of all races or orientations. Are the separate racially labeled sub-groups necessary?

I know that blacks make up a large portion of prison populations. Is that because of racial bias? Partially, but a lot of blacks grow up in neighborhoods where crime is part of the fabric of their lives. With high dropout rates, poor education, a high number of single parent households, high unemployment, crime is a way to get by - and eventually they get caught. It's more a formula of circumstance than race. Anyone who grows up in a rough environment is more likely to find crime as an alternative for survival - black, white, Latino or Asian.

I rarely see the ethnic or racial labeling when criminals are Latino, white or Asian. But there seems to be a high frequency of identifying black criminals by race.

When society can live the words of Martin Luther King and judge a man by the character or lack of character in his heart and not by the color of his skin, then we have made progress toward an all inclusive society that is colorless. Troy Anthony Davis was a man. He may have been an innocent man. He happened to be black. He happened to be Muslim. But none of those things are important. An innocent man may have died. He deserved the right to a fair system and real justice as would anyone else - regardless of race, ethnicity or orientation.

If the state of Georgia can commute Troy Anthony Davis sentence to life, or give him another day in court, then we as a society have made a step towards real justice. And real justice has no color. But not even the Supreme Court would step in. The White House had no comment.

Related articles:
Cleveland Serial Killer Anthony Sowell Gets Death Penalty
Cleveland Prosecutors Reject Guilty Plea By Anthony Sowell So They Can Seek Death Penalty (UPDATED June 28th)
Meet Michael Flinner - Landscaper, Widower, Father, Christian, Death Row Inmate
Stop Executions. Kill Prisoners With KFC And Mickey D.

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  1. You make several points here that I have to address I do so in order:

    I agree
    U r correct
    Good point
    and finally Yes!

    The Cranky Old Man

  2. Here's a good way to look at race: 9% unemployment for Whites; 16% unemployment for Blacks. And you don't want to discuss race?

  3. Actually, black teen unemployment is about 55%, but that wasn't the point of the article. Yes, there are disparities. Read my post about the justice system being racist or not. Economics is the reason so many black men go to prison. Crime is higher in poor neighborhoods. It's higher in poor white neighborhoods, poor Hispanic neighborhoods.

    This summer, over a dozen black teens and children were killed by gunfire, directly or indirectly. The worst was an 11 year old girl, killed two days before her birthday while eating candy watching TV in her apartment. Two idiots in the parking lot decided to have a shootout and a bullet went through the wall and killed her.

    If you want to talk about race, then why were all of these killing done by black people against black people? There weren't any white teens or children killed by gunfire during the same period. If all of the shooters were caught, that would be a dozen black men going to prison compared to zero white men. Is that racist?

    My main point was that as a white man, I don't say, "Help this white man." Yet in the black community is common to always label a man or woman as black. They are men and women. Period.


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