Women. Power. Peace.

Innocent until proven guilty?

Innocent until proven guilty- that is the standard by which our criminal justice system supposedly operates. In fact, they system says that we are all innocent until we are proven ‘guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’  There is no physical evidence, linking death row inmate Troy to the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, no DNA evidence and no murder weapon. Seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimony and some even reported that the police had coerced them into giving the statements that the ‘police wanted to hear.’

 If the standard of guilt that the system must operate by is that one must be proven “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” then there is no need to mince words, Troy Davis is innocent, and there is no question what conclusion to draw from that.  But none of that seems to matter in this case, least of all to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied Troy’s most recent, and final appeal.

Cases like Troy's, and the countless other less high profile cases we don't hear about unless we look, are what cause many people to question the entire system.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2009 report on Capital Punishment, 42% of death row inmates are black.  This is almost four times the 12.6% density of African-Americans in the general population.  Is this really any wonder when we see the lengths the state has gone to keep Troy on death row, evidence and justice be damned?  It is this sort of inequity that causes many in the prison abolition movement to call it the “criminal INjustice system.

But our recognition of that injustice isn't enough. We have to change it, and stop this execution.  In the next week we must do everything we can to keep an innocent man from being killed, starting with the march on Friday, continuing with 24 hours for Troy on Sunday, praying  at the vigil on Monday, and if our prayers aren't answered, keeping it up until we know Troy is safe on Wednesday night.  Join us in standing up against this injustice, fighting to free Troy Davis, and to change this unjust system.

Carter Thomas is a  prison abolition activist.  In recent months, he has organized and gathered petitions with the Free Troy Davis Committee.  He currently resides in the Atlanta neighborhood of Cabbagetown.

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