Today I read an article about Troy Davis who has been denied clemency by the parole board in Georgia, U.S. This revived in me the same sense of helplessness and sadness I had felt back in 1987 when Edward Earl Johnson too was denied a reprieve and subsequently put to death, courtesy of the U.S State of Mississippi.
As part of an English school assignment, my class was required to watch a BBC documentary named Fourteen Days in May. It showed the last 14 days of death row inmate Edward Earl Johnson. He was convicted for the rape of a woman and the murder of a police officer. It showed the emotional battle Johnson’s British lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith fought to prove his client’s innocence. What was also evident was the courage Johnson displayed whilst trying to cope with the approaching finality of his life. All he could hold onto was his faith that justice will prevail and his right for life will be granted. Sadly he was wrong for he was denied clemency, his last words were:’ Just get this over with’. It took him approximately 10 long minutes to die by cyanide gas.
For me, being so young and untouched by life’s injustices Johnson’s case was a rude awakening. So from that day I had opposed the death penalty. I even had my own mantra when the subject was discussed: ‘legalised murder’.
Fortunately, I have never had to experience the loss of a loved one through violence and I suppose I, am not in a position to cast any judgement on ‘an eye for an eye’ but until such time I will still defend my stance against the death penalty. My ‘weak’ reason is that there could be a slight chance that an innocent person could be convicted by the state. I guess I am an advocate of “What if?” My thoughts extend to Troy Davis and his family at this time…
Not forgetting the family of the police officers who were killed and for many years sought closure even if meant to support an obvious miscarriage of justice.
And lastly, for countless of times over the years: RIP Edward Earl Johnson
Conclusion: The court order for the execution of Troy Davis was carried out on 21 September 2011