The state of Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis last month has sparked a national debate on capital punishment. Some of the discussion has been of how race plays a part in the application of the death sentence. Critics of capital punishment argue it is impossible for black person in the South to receive the same justice as a white one. Davis, who was black, was convicted in 1991 of killing Mark MacPhail, a white off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer.
The Davis case attracted international attention. Many of eyewitnesses in the case later recanted and the ballistics evidence was largely inconclusive.
Advocates against the death penalty argued Georgia could be executing an innocent man. That’s one of the reasons groups like Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty have called for the end of capital punishment.
“The death penalty is costly, unfairly applied, creates more victims, ensnares the innocent and continues a vicious cycle of violence based on the false assumption that vengeance can heal,” TADP states on its website. “We at Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty seek to honor life by abolishing Tennessee’s death penalty as we urge the state not to take a human life in our name.”
In the past seven years, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois and New York have abandoned the death penalty. Executions are also becoming fewer in the 34 states where capital punishment is still applicable.
The last decade has seen juries across the country impose only half the number of death sentences that they had in the 1990s. Advocates say 138 people nationwide have been exonerated from death row since 1973. Is it time to end capital punishment in the United States? Tell us what you think by sending your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or email@example.com.
Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks. You also can go to www.johnsoncitypress.com to cast a vote in the online poll. Results of the poll and comments from readers will appear on this page Oct. 11.