The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

An Eye For An Eye Means Public Justice Is Denied

2 min read

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While walking through Wal-Mart, I couldn’t help but notice a magazine piece on Troy Davis. Davis was executed Sept. 21, 2011 for the murder of an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Georgia. Davis has been on death row since 1989 and after more than 20 years and an exhaustion of appeals he was finally put to death by lethal injection. It is time we realize the death penalty is the greatest injustice within our judicial apparatus.

In the case of Davis, there was a great deal of reasonable doubt, far too much to sentence a man to death. Killing a person without absolute certainty is cruel and promotes the idea that human beings are incapable of errors in judgment. Put yourself in the position of the executioner.

Could you really live with yourself knowing that you put a man to death without 100 percent certainty? The killing of Troy Davis was a hypocritical act: answering injustice with injustice. Had he spent the rest of his life behind bars not only would it have been more humane, but it would have been much less expensive.

The cost of putting someone on death row is significantly more expensive to taxpayers in the long run. In California, home to the nation’s biggest death row population at 667, it costs an extra $90,000 per inmate to imprison someone sentenced to death — an additional expense that totals more than $63.3 million annually, according to a 2008 study by the state’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice.

Court cases with that have a potential death penalty outcome are far more costly. Special lawyers are required, as well as higher security costs and an increase in processing evidence.
A recent report to the Committee on Defender Services of the Judicial Conference of the United States by Jon Gould and Lisa Greenman provides an update on the costs of representation in federal death penalty cases. The report examined all cases in which the federal death penalty was authorized by the U.S. Attorney General between 1998 and 2004. The report stated that, “The median cost of a case in which the Attorney General authorized seeking the death penalty was nearly eight times greater than the cost of a case that was eligible for capital prosecution but in which the death penalty was not authorized.”

Forcing a criminal to think about what they have done for the rest of their life will have an impact that simply killing them will not amount to. While in prison the criminal will be living in a hostile environment, which can be an even greater punishment.

Davis swore that he was innocent until the moment he died. He even had a polygraph request turned down by Supreme Court. Even if Davis was definitely guilty, does he deserve the same fate? Should we really treat killing with more killing?