Race

Was Justice Denied?

So if you listened to our program today you took in a number of rich goodies. The lead segment discussed how small-business owners have to be nimble in this awkward economy; the last segment was a light and enlightening conversation about Latino luminaries.

But most striking — to me anyway — was the relatively short segment in the middle about the impending execution of a Georgia man. His name is Troy Davis. Whether he really killed an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga. 19 years ago is not certain. Several witnesses have recanted their testimony, but neither the state's pardons board nor high court is willing to concede. And just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the case "the hand."

So I listened to our guest, Virginia Sloan, founder and president of the Constitution Project, in search of some rationale for not hearing the full case. I just wanted to know there was kernel of fairness in the justice system. "The system has to accomodate claims of innocense," she told host Michel Martin.

While I sympathize with the family of the victim, Mark McPhail, I couldn't help but wonder how much Davis' race is factor in all of this. He's African-American. McPhail was white. And we know how that goes. The Death Penalty Information Center lays out the data. But in short, the number of persons executed since 1976 when the defendant was black and the victim white: 228; but when the defendant was white and the victim black: 15.

Davis' case has won international support. Some are just flat out opposed to the death penalty and others just yearn for real justice — let the chips fall where they may.

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