By James Hayman
I don’t know whether Troy Davis killed police officer Mark McPhail or not.
Unfortunately, neither do any of the people who participated in his execution in Georgia two nights ago. Or any of the people in the audience at the Republican debate the other night who cheered at Rick Perry’s macho assertion that, in executing several hundred people, the State of Texas was delivering true justice.
In my books, as in most suspense thrillers, the bad guys are incontestably guilty. They are dispatched by my heroes, McCabe and Savage, in the midst of final damning confrontations. And they deserve what they get.
That was not the case for Troy Davis. He was convicted on flimsy evidence. A number of the witnesses who said he killed McPhail later recanted their testimony and at least some of them implied they it had been coerced by the prosecution.
I was in favor of the death penalty before I was against it. And the executions of possibly innocent people like Troy Davis are what changed my mind.
I’d recommend that anyone who is in any way concerned about the issue read John Grisham’s non-fiction account of the wrongful conviction and near execution of a man named Ron Williamson in Ada, Oklahoma some years back. I think it is, by far, Grisham’s best book. The title is The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.
The Innocent Man makes the case against the death penalty far better than I possibly could in a one-page blog and better than any of the other books or articles I’ve read about the issue. If you still believe in capital punishment and you read Grisham’s book. I don’t think you’ll feel the same way after you put it down. At least I didn’t.