This has become a hallmark of the American death penalty: don't look too hard, don't ask too many questions. Once a jury has reached a verdict, avoid at all costs the question of whether they might be wrong. Finality over fairness or accuracy.
No one should be executed when there is serious doubt about the person's guilt. The problem is that the Supreme Court has imposed too difficult a standard.
As we remember brothers like Troy Davis, as we think about Kelly Gissendaner who would be executed by the State of Georgia on the 29th of this month, we remember what it means to die a good death, leaving a mark on a world that forces us to face our own idiosyncrasies and short comings.
Two years ago, the state of Georgia ignored the facts, doubts and pleas of hundreds of thousands of people and killed Troy Anthony Davis. Today, on the anniversary of his execution, we rededicate ourselves to ending the immoral, biased and ineffective practice of capital punishment.
The Supreme Court got it right in 1972. The death penalty does violate the Constitution, because it is cruel and unusual punishment. And here's why.
The death penalty is the tip of the iceberg of an unjust criminal justice system, in which America, the world's largest jailer, throws away its perceived problems as a matter of social policy, rather than invest in people and communities, jobs and education.
What lessons can college students learn from studying cases of justice and injustice? That justice is slow and requires a lucky break? That justice sometimes doesn't occur at all?
Two years ago, both Troy and I were in prison for murder, even though the case against both of us had fallen completely apart. One year ago, I had been set free, and Troy had been put to death.
On this anniversary of his passing, let us remember who Troy Davis was, what he stood for, and the work we as a nation still need to do.
Until we are confident that all defendants receive a fair trial, we cannot feel confident about the decision to take a person's life. The death penalty is final and irreversible, and our criminal justice system is fraught with errors and doubt.
Today, a "special master" in St. Louis begins review of the case of Reggie Clemons to determine if his trial was fair and his death sentence is just. Reggie Clemons is on Missouri's death row for murders all the evidence shows he did not commit.
Had experienced judges deliberated with the jury in Davis's trial, had new evidence been considered carefully at a re-trial, had the realization that we are not always right received the slightest acknowledgment, perhaps Troy Davis would be alive today.
It is a saga of murder and injustice that spans three decades, and even now a surprising new chapter is being written.
I do not want focus here on what young black boys need to do to avoid incarceration, death, and poor schooling. Rather, I want to focus on what we all must learn and understand about the black male experience in order to make sure there is not another Trayvon case.
My only son turned five years old last week. He is a handsome, articulate, energetic, intelligent, fun-loving and gentle young man. He is the apple of my eye! There's only one problem; he is Black.
The case of Reggie Clemons represents everything that is wrong with the death penalty and the U.S. criminal justice system. But unlike Troy Davis, here is still time to save him. We can fix this.