NAACP Urges U.S. Supreme Court To Review Troy Davis Case

 

NAACP leaders urge the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of Troy A. Davis, an African American man on death row with a strong claim of innocence. The Supreme Court will meet this week to decide whether to review the case of Davis, 39, a Georgia man, convicted of killing a police officer. The NAACP encourages the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine the case because there was no physical evidence to support the claim, the majority of witnesses against Davis at his trial have since recanted or changed their testimonies.

In the summer 2007, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a stay of execution for Davis stating that they would “not allow an execution to proceed in this state unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” In March, the Georgia Supreme Court decided against a new hearing for Davis in a narrow 4-3 ruling that led to his scheduled execution last month. On Sept. 23, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to temporarily halt the execution by lethal injection while they determine whether to hear Davis’ case.   

“The fact that the Georgia Supreme Court was so deeply split on the question of Mr. Davis’ innocence should be grounds for a new trial,” said NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We call on the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case against Davis and act in the interest of fair play. We cannot afford another fatal mistake.”

The NAACP believes the Georgia Supreme Court’s failure to order a new trial for Davis to consider significant, exculpatory post-conviction evidence, represented a true miscarriage of justice and underscores the NAACP’s longstanding, concern over the fair administration of justice in the State of Georgia and across the country.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Authorities failed to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence tying Davis to the crime. In addition, seven of the nine original state witnesses have since recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits. 

“If Troy Davis is not set free or his sentence commuted, it will be one of the worst travesties of justice in modern times,” said Georgia NAACP State Conference President Edward Dubose. “Georgia is positioned to execute an innocent man.”

At its 99th Annual Convention in July, the NAACP passed a continuing resolution stating its consistent opposition to the death penalty in the U.S. and support for a new trial for Davis and others. 

The NAACP asserts that the death penalty is applied in an arbitrary and/or inconsistent manner, thereby violating the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment found in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Other reasons the NAACP is against capital punishment include:

  • A steady decline in the American public’s support for capital punishment.
  • A disproportionate number of federal death penalty inmates, nearly 60 percent, are racial or ethnic minorities.
  • Since 1976, records show the likelihood of being executed as a result of a capital punishment offense has varied substantially depending on the region of the U.S. in which the offense occurs. 
  • Since 1973, 129 death row inmates have been exonerated – most after serving lengthy sentences.
  • The cost of sentencing a prisoner to life without the chance of parole is less expensive to American taxpayers than the aggregated cost of litigation preceding the execution of each death row inmate.
  • Impoverished persons facing potential capital punishment sentences often lack the requisite financial resources to hire adequate defense council.

The NAACP, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and other partners in Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty participated in numerous demonstrations to raise awareness of Davis’ plight, including picketing the private firm that carries out Georgia’s executions and a ‘die-in’ near the Georgia state capitol.   

The European Parliament, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and diverse groups from around the globe have also called for the commuting of Davis’ sentence.
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Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its more than half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities and monitors of equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.  
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