Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Change is up to us

Today Abolish the Death Penalty is pleased to introduce guest blogger Elizabeth Beck, who recently authored In the Shadow of Death: Restorative Justice and Death Row Families.

Some excerpts from Elizabeth’s fine book:

“As he was being led away he said ‘They are ready to kill me and I am ready to go now. I don’t want any of you crying.’ Oh I held my tears until I got around the corner and then I nearly passed out.”
--An aunt of an executed man

“They just took him out and left us standing there. She [my wife] has been unable to put a marker on in the grave yet…My wife’s whole personality has changed so much so that her daughter said that when her brother was executed ‘I lost my mother as well.’”
--A father of an executed man

Each time an execution is announced “We relive the whole thing. Every one of those memories comes tumbling back. You know that someone else is suffering just like you suffered.”
--A daughter of an executed man

Today Elizabeth writes about the case of Troy Anthony Davis:

Martina Correia and her mother Virginia Davis fear that their worse nightmare
will come true. The execution of Troy Anthony Davis, their brother and son respectively, is likely to occur before the season ends. Troy has been on Georgia’s death row for more than 15 years, his conviction largely based on witness testimony. At the time of this writing, all but two of the nine witnesses who testified against Troy have recanted or contradicted their testimony and admitted that their initial statements convicting Troy were made under police duress.

I have been with family members when their fathers, sons, and brothers were executed. I have seen their families and lives unravel, and I know that a death sentence affects so much more than the accused.


Troy’s sister Martina is a wiry African American woman who is proud of her military service, and her years helping deliver babies as an Ob-Gyn nurse. Martina, however, is no longer employed. Rather, her boundless energy is being depleted as she fights Troy’s execution and her own battle against breast cancer. An average day for Martina involves hours on the phone and computer getting the word out about Troy, which can include supporting international petitions, contacting leaders in human rights organizations and clergy, as well as pitching stories to media outlets.
And, it is against this backdrop that she is seeking to raise her son with love and support, and buoy her mother, Virginia, whose fear of the execution of her son have brought Virginia into a debilitating depression.

Virginia explained that when Troy was first arrested, “I was really deeply depressed. I would lay in my bed and I would pray awhile and cry awhile…It was just like I got arrested.” Years later as more and more evidence came out about Troy’s innocence, Virginia’s depression lifted, and she even began to smile again, believing that the court would never kill an innocent man.

Until recently things looked up for Troy. His case was picked up by a high-profile law firm, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran several articles discussing the emergence of the new evidence. Martina’s work was paying off as it seemed Troy may have been on the road which could lead to exoneration. Additionally, her cancer was in remission.

After interviewing many family members whose loved ones were on death row, including the Davis/Carreia family, for our book, In the Shadow of Death: Restorative Justice and Death Row Families, with a stunning forward by
Steve Earle (Oxford University Press), I remain haunted by a young man whom I
call Dray. When I first met Dray he communicated with his father regularly was in high school with a bright future and hope of an athletic scholarship. His accomplishment carried a lot of pride, for him and his father, as he did it against a backdrop drop of difficult neighborhoods where many residents engaged in drug and gang activity and where a number of his peers ended up in juvenile detention. However, after his father approached execution there was a spiral: Dray stopped playing sports and dropped out of school. His future far less bright.

Martina hopes for a very different outcome. She hopes that the international
organizing to stop Troy’s execution will save Troy, and if not she explains:
“I look at my son who is 13 now and he keeps repeating the same question,
‘Why do we kill innocent people, why do they want to kill my Uncle Troy?’
I have never had an answer for him that I thought was even close to being good,
but today I sat him down and I said if for any reason it comes to that, ‘Maybe
Uncle Troy is to be the catalyst of change.’

And that, my friends, is up to us.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am devastated by the supreme courts decision not to hear Troys new evidence, i feel it is a slur on a human beings life, how can the state of Georgia murder a man when they have NO EVIDENCE, dont they realise they are murdering people just like the people they have put in jails....how would they feel if it was their son, mother daughter or loved one. We (Troys supporters & family) will NEVER give up on Troy, i am totally ashamed of the people who make these decisions, even my 13 yr old child has said "mum, how can i see that Troy is innocent and the grown ups cant?" how do i justify killing is wrong to a child when he knows Troy may be executed for no reason at all.

TROY WILL BE PROVED INNOCENT NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS IT TAKES ALL I PRAY IS THAT IT IS BEFORE ANOTHER INNOCENT MAN IS MURDERED BY THE SYSTEM!!!


SUE (A FRIEND OF TROYS)

Stela said...

What the sate of Georgia is doing is a shame! How can they kill a man when they don't have evidences against him?! What kind of justice is that?
Please, free Troy!

carol said...

Troy needs to have a new hearing.
There are to many people in his situation. There are to many victims in this case and Troy is one of them..

NEIL said...

WHERE IS THE JUSTICE FOR TROY? HE HAS MANY PEOPLE SUPPORTING HIM AND IM SURE IF THE MEDIA ACTUALLY SHOWED SOME INTEREST IN HIS CASE THERE WOULD ALSO BE MANY MORE SUPPORTING HIM, WE MUST ALL JOIN TOGETHER TO MAKE THEM LISTEN......WE CANT KEEP ALLOWING INNOCENTS PEOPLE TO ROT IN JAIL JUST BECAUSE OF LIES AND CORRUPTION

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with this world and the justice of human kind, They kill the innocent because they are blind from the truth, they hurt the ones that cant fight back just like animals. They lock them in a cage until there fate is decided i think this is sickening, I'm ashamed to i myself is part of the human race. Troy is not a killer he is a guy caught in a web like all the other innocent people on deathrow, The truth needs to be heard, my heart and prayers go to troy and his family that one day he will be back where he belongs with his mother as a free man.

never give up hope my friend no matter how hard the battle we will never stop fighting......

Anonymous said...

Where is the justice for Officer Mark MacPhail? Not one of you gives a damn about him or his family.