"I am deeply saddened and deeply disappointed by this decision, but in light of all I have seen through the years, it does not surprise me."
-- U.S. Congressman John Lewis
According to a report from CNN today, the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last night has sparked worldwide protest and made him the focal point for "a global movement to end the death penalty."
I predict, a hundred years from now, our great grandchildren will ridicule capital punishment much as we now ridicule the drowning of witches in Old Salem.
Are folks in Georgia one whit safer today than yesterday?
Troy Davis wasn't getting out of prison. Ever.
He wouldn't have been pardoned and he couldn't have escaped. Nobody even argued that could happen.
What, then, was the purpose of taking his life?
It's not to save money. The cost of warehousing a prisoner for life is significantly less than the cost of appeals that are mandatory in death penalty cases.
So, if safety and economics aren't reasons, what is?
The execution was simple blood lust -- with a significant component of arrogance and exhibition of power.
We can do it, and, by God, we're going to do it.
In 1984, after resigning as a Superior Court judge but before leaving the bench, I officially commuted all three death sentences imposed during my term. It was a very personal decision -- as controversial now as it was then -- and not something for which credit is sought or due. Since then, however, my name often has been associated with the issue of capital punishment.
In point of fact, this subject weighed on my mind long before I became a judge -- as I suspect it does on the minds of many people who never wear a black robe and are never called upon to hand down such a sentence personally.
But make no mistake.
For what was allowed to be done last night in the name of the People of Georgia, all of us share responsibility.
Like John Lewis, I am not surprised -- but I am profoundly disgusted.