A Simple Act of Kindness: Sign the Pledge
Our criminal justice system is flawed as most recently demonstrated in the Troy Davis case. Because of the life or death consequences in states where the death penalty is permissible under the law, the criminal justice system must be flawless or there is a possibility that an innocent person could be executed. When justice is administered by humans, it susceptible to error. Under the afore-referenced circumstances, the death penalty must be eradicated nationwide. With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, we can eradicate the death nationally as well as internationally.
As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.” Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis, a former death penalty inmate in Georgia’s penal system. The petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty.
Like Laura Moye, Director of the Death Penalty Campaign, at Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President and CEO, Ben Jealous, recent wrote in an open letter about the important work being undertaken to abolish the death penalty in the United States and the need for it to be continued. Both letters highlight the problematic outcome in the Troy Davis case—specifically, these documents delineate how the justice system failed to obtain a just outcome and as a result Troy Davis lost his life on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.
Ben Jealous wrote in his recent letter to NAACP’s membership that, “…Current Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm acknowledged that if it were up to him today, he would not try this as a death penalty case (i.e. Troy Davis). Yet, when he could have acted to stop the execution, he refused to do so. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, designed specifically to ensure that executions never happen amidst so much doubt, allowed it to happen anyway.
Justices on the Georgia State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court — men and women who know that our justice system is degraded when we allow someone to be executed even when the former warden [Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison] of the very prison the inmate is in says there is too much doubt to proceed — cleared the way for the execution to be carried out anyway. These failures are the result of a system that gives the power of life and death, God-like powers, to humans who are as prone to error and susceptible to bias as any of us. Human nature won’t change, so the system must. This must never happen again.”
“I [Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP] promised Troy that no matter what happened we would keep fighting until the death penalty is abolished. That is the only way we can possibly guarantee our government will never make such a tragic and irrevocable mistake again. Until that day, we are all Troy Davis. And in the name of Troy Anthony Davis, we must all carry on the fight.”
“In the past two years, the NAACP and our allies have abolished the death penalty in three states. When we succeed in abolishing it in ten more, we will be in a position to ask the Supreme Court to abolish it entirely. In the meantime, there are effective strategies we can use, in even the most conservative states, to diminish its use greatly. In the months ahead, we will convene teach-ins around the country and implement an aggressive state-by-state agenda to end capital punishment for good. We will host a national summit in Georgia to launch this next wave of activism.”
“As Troy Davis — a fellow NAACP activist — said so many times, “This movement began before I was born … it must continue and grow stronger … until we abolish the death penalty once and for all. Together, we can ensure that Troy’s death was not in vain and this will never happen again.” Toward that goal, the NAACP’s President and CEO along with Laura Moye, Director of Amnesty’s Death Penalty Campaign encourage each of us to pledge to work to eradicate the death penalty. Jealous’ letter ends with “Help us all carry out Troy Davis’ mission.”
With that said, here are three (3) important things you can do RIGHT NOW to advance the fight to stop the death penalty:
1) Sign the pledge (NAACP and/or Amnesty International) and join the movement to eradicate death penalty.
2) Contact your local Amnesty International State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators (pdf). Ask about the death penalty in your state and how you can get involved locally.
3) Reach out to other death penalty organizations operating in your state/country. Find out more information.
Amnesty International Pledge: “Not in my name” <http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/site/c.6oJCLQPAJiJUG/b.7741827/k.62FF/Not_in_my_Name_Pledge/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=7741827&en=dmIPI6PPJcIYLgOSLbKULiM9LvL9KmN4LtI9LqNaIAK>
Sources: NAACP. Amnesty International. “The Killing of Troy Davis”, NATION OF CHANGE/OPED, Wednesday, September 21, 2011.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art