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The Blue & Gray Press | August 23, 2019

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An Eye For An Eye Means Public Justice Is Denied

An Eye For An Eye Means Public Justice Is Denied


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?


  1. Will

    Thank you Mr. Littlejohn!
    I’m almost certain that this will get at least one comment saying something along the lines of “but what about justice for the person who was murdered?” and another saying “well he exhausted his appeals – it has to end sometime” and another saying “murder is the most heinous of crimes and therefore deserves the most severe of punishments.”

    To those who say that, think about this:
    1.Given the gravity of executing an innocent person, the death row inmate’s appeals take on a special urgency which makes them more likely to generate news coverage.
    2.The legal team working on an appeal for a prisoner sentenced to life without parole has more time to establish a case than does the team for a prisoner on death row. Therefore, it is more likely to succeed.
    3.When a prisoner is executed, there are still always going to be protests and discussions in the media about whether the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, whether the governor will halt the execution, etc.

    This brings us back to “what about justice for the victim?” All three of these factors (especially #3) end up making the discussion more about justice for the inmate than justice for the victim.