Wednesday drew to a close the life of Troy Davis, along with his twenty-year fight to prove his innocence. But we should pick up his larger battle — to end the death penalty in the remaining of the United States.
I never followed Mr. Davis’ case, and consequentially, won’t speculate on his guilt or innocence. Those details should be irrelevant to the larger argument, which is, simply, that America’s criminal justice system is far too flawed to justify the finality of death, in any case.
This isn’t an argument I would’ve made before I became a lawyer. But since then, I’ve seen enough criminal appeals to know that a conviction may be sufficiently certain to justify jail, but not to justify death. We must be 100% certain of someone’s guilt before we kill him, and the jury trial is too human — and the appellate process too flawed — to allow that confidence.