Posts Tagged ‘Capital punishment’

Activists in the US are trying to get a new trial for a 14 year-old boy who was executed in 1944.

George Stinney has been dead since 1944, when as a 14-year-old he became the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century, for killing two white girls.

Now his supporters are taking the unheard-of step of asking for a new trial.

Stinney’s case brings together two of the longest-running disputes in the American legal system – the death penalty and race.

Stinney was convicted on a shaky confession in a segregated society that wanted revenge for the beating deaths of two girls, aged 11 and 7, according to a lawsuit filed last month on Stinney’s behalf in South Carolina.

He was electrocuted just 84 days after the girls were killed. Newspaper stories reported that witnesses said the straps to keep him in the electric chair didn’t fit around his small frame.

The request for a new trial is largely symbolic, but Stinney’s supporters say they would prefer exoneration to a pardon – which they’ve asked for as well.

The judge may refuse to hear the request for a new trial, since the punishment has already been carried out.

The two girls were last seen looking for wildflowers in the racially divided mill town of Alcolu. Stinney’s sister, who was 7 at the time, says in her new affidavit for the lawsuit that she and her brother were letting their cow graze when the girls asked them where they could find flowers called maypops. The sister, Amie Ruffner, said her brother told them he didn’t know, and the girls left.

“It was strange to see them in our area, because white people stayed on their side of Alcolu and we knew our place,” Ruffner wrote.

The girls never came home. They were found the next morning in a water-filled ditch, their heads beaten with a hard object, likely a railroad spike.

The request for a new trial includes sworn statements from two of Stinney’s siblings who say he was with them the entire day the girls were killed.

Notes from Stinney’s confession and most other information used to convict him in a one-day trial have disappeared, along with any transcript of the proceedings. Only a few pages of cryptic, hand-written notes remain, according to the motion.

“Why was George Stinney electrocuted? The state can’t produce any paperwork to justify why he was,” said George Frierson, a local school board member who grew up in Stinney’s hometown hearing stories about the case and decided six years ago to start studying it and pushing for exoneration.

The request for a new trial points out that at just 43 kilograms it’s unlikely Stinney could have killed the girls and dragged them to the ditch.

The motion also hints at community rumours of a deathbed confession from a white man several years ago and the possibility Stinney confessed because his family was threatened.

(From AP)

What a movie this would make …

Troy Davis & his family

Troy Davis and his family in a picture taken before the prison cut off “contact visits.”

Two days ago – incredibly, really, as it seems like just yesterday – it was two years since The State of Georgia, and America, put an innocent man to death.

Two years that Troy Davis and his family have had robbed from them. Two years of mourning.

Two years since the largest ever worldwide campaign for an innocent man to be freed when his conviction was obviously flawed was completely ignored by the parole institutions in Georgia, the Georgia Governor, the Supreme Court of the USA, and ultimately, President Obama. Two years when the State of Georgia knew better than a former head of the FBI, former president Jimmy Carter, 35 members of Congress, and even the Pope.

Not to mention petitions with literally millions of signatures on them.

That’s how obdurate the desire to kill an innocent man was.

Two years in which the anger has not dimmed.

In Troy’s memory – if you signed a petition, if you stood with a placard, if you wrote letters or emails, if you called your representative, if you commented on Facebook, if you stood vigil, if you cried – now you can continue your personal witness and purchase I Am Troy Davis, published this week and written by Jen Marlowe and Troy’s sister, Martina Correia-Davis, who died of breast cancer soon after her brother was killed.

It’s the story of Troy, his remarkable family, and the on-going struggle to end the death penalty.

Can’t say it better than Susan Sarandon: “I Am Troy Davis is a painful yet very important book” — unless it’s Maya Angelou: “Here is a shout for human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty. This book, I Am Troy Davis,should be read and cherished.”

The book tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. From his childhood in racially-charged Savannah; to the confused events that led to the 1989 shooting of a police officer; to Davis’ sudden arrest, conviction, and two-decade fight to prove his innocence; I Am Troy Davis takes us inside a broken legal system where life and death hangs in the balance. It is also an inspiring testament to the unbreakable bond of family, to the resilience of love, and that even when you reach the end of justice, voices from across the world will rise together in chorus and proclaim, “I am Troy Davis”, I stand with you.

eve

“This book will devastate you …” Eve Ensler

If you make your purchase through the non-profit publisher, Haymarket Books, it’ll cost you just $18 to commemorate one man’s courageous yet ultimately tragic fight for justice.

And, by doing so, to make your personal stand against a justice system which is laughingly labyrinthine and slow, where process regularly overpowers any consideration of issues of right or wrong, where the application of the death penalty is obviously biased heavily against racial minorities, and which regularly has executed, and still does execute, innocent people.

A place, in other words, where “And justice for all” is clearly a sick joke. If that’s not what you want America to be, then buy the book. Buy it for friends. Buy it and donate it to your local library, or school. Buy it.

I am still Troy Davis.

Troy Davis and his family

Troy Davis and his family before the jail cut off "contact visits"

Readers of this blog will remember that I and many others spent a few weeks a while back focused with increasing horror and dread on the case of Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia’s Death Row who, despite all evidence against him crumbling over the course of his incarceration, and an international outcry and campaign by literally millions of people, was executed on September 21.

If you search Troy Davis on this site you will find innumerable articles outlining why he was – unquestionably – wrongly executed, to the eternal shame of all those involved in killing an innocent man.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Strapped to a gurney waiting for the chemicals to flood through the tubes into his veins so he could die, Troy Davis’s last words were to pray forgiveness for those about to put him to death. I have no doubt that he watches us now from somewhere in Paradise, just as I am certain that a special place in Hell has been reserved for those members of the Georgia judicial system that callously sent him there.

I spent several weeks campaigning on the Troy Davis case, but some people have spent several years, such as Jen Marlowe. Working with Amnesty International, she came to know and love the Davis family, and her work on their behalf continues – in no small part because their tragedies didn’t end with Troy’s execution.

Indeed, the tragedies didn’t even start there. Troy’s mother Virginia died suddenly in April 2011, a death her daughter Martina was sure was a result of simple heartbreak over Troy’s failure to win a commutation of his sentence. Martina herself had been struggling with breast cancer for a decade when Troy was killed; two months after burying her brother, Martina herself died.

The boy they all left behind, De’Jaun Davis-Correia, is an outstanding high school student who looked up to his uncle as a father-figure and is today hoping to attend Georgia Tech, where he wants to major in industrial engineering. It is a sign of the strength and the beauty of this family that De’Jaun is already a dedicated death penalty activist, and has been named by The Root as one of its “25 Young Futurists” for 2012.

As Emily Hauser (who wrote the original of this article, which I am merely editing) “I cannot imagine how he gets up in the morning, much less makes plans.”

But sorrow and loss aren’t the end of it. Three funerals in the space of seven months and years of cancer-related hospitalizations have resulted in bills that would overwhelm anyone.

For that reason, Jen (who is currently working on a book about Troy and Martina) is raising funds for the Davis family. Here’s the letter she sent out this week:

The Davis family lost three warriors for justice in the past seven months. Virginia Davis, the matriarch of the family, passed in April, just two weeks after the US Supreme Court denied Troy’s final appeal, paving the way for the state of Georgia to set a new execution date.

According to Martina, her mother died of a broken heart–she couldn’t bear another execution date. Troy was executed on September 21, despite an international outcry over executing a man amid such overwhelming doubt.

Troy’s sister and staunchest advocate, Martina, succumbed to her decade-long battle with cancer on December 1, exactly two months after her brother Troy’s funeral, leaving behind a teenaged son.

There are still outstanding medical and funeral bills that the Davis family must pay.

The Davis family has had to bear more tragedy and sorrow than any family should ever have to. Together, we can ensure that the financial aspect of these losses will not be a burden to them.

I have set up a simple way to contribute online to the family. I hope you will choose to help, and that you will share this information with others. All you have to do is click this link: https://www.wepay.com/donations/fund-for-troy-davis-s-family 

Any amount will be highly appreciated and will help them greatly!

Please circulate this information to others you think may be interested in helping.

Any questions can be directed to Jen Marlowe at donkeysaddle@gmail.com.

In solidarity with all the Davis family has been fighting for and in sorrow for all they have had to endure,
Jen Marlowe
Troy Davis Campaign

If you are in a position to help, please do so. I will certainly be turning out my spare change pocket to see what I can do.

As Emily says: Troy Davis is not here to help his family through this ordeal – those of us who fought for his life must now do so for him.

Perhaps, in some small way, we can all make the world a better place by getting this innocent family back on track. And pray that no member of our family is ever caught up, inextricably, in a legal nightmare that ends in their cold-blooded judicial murder.

Don’t think about doing something another time: click the link and send whatever you can, right now:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/fund-for-troy-davis-s-family