Troy Davis: What Happens Now?


Emily Martin

I first heard about Troy Davis three years ago as a freshman in Professor Richard Stack’s understanding media class, and I will admit that I naively believed for a long time that the Georgia death row inmate would one day be free. Surely the American justice system could not possibly allow the execution of a man who had consistently maintained his innocence and who had support from such prominent organizations and public figures around the world.

In last winter’s issue of AWOL, I wrote an article on how AU professors have been involved in Troy’s case. With the help of Professor Gemma Puglisi, I was able to interview Troy by mailing him questions, which he answered articulately and insightfully. I was impressed by the wisdom in Troy’s letter to me, which was free from any bitterness or frustration.

They say that one of the functions of incarceration is rehabilitation. We sometimes hear about convicts who turn their lives around, find religion or start mentoring others. Take for instance the story of Stanley Tookie Williams, convicted killer and founder of the Crips gang who was executed in 2005 despite his efforts behind bars to keep children from joining gangs. Troy himself mentored troubled kids by being a pen-pal, and he had plans to continue mentoring youth once out of prison. It’s clear that he was using his time in prison constructively – but calls for his execution still rang loud and clear.

I am still in shock over Troy’s execution. I began my college career with blind faith in our country’s government and court system, sincerely believing that justice would be served for Troy Davis. Three years later, I have become aware of just how flawed government can be.

In the aftermath of the horrific display of the American justice system gone wrong, we can only hope that Troy’s death was not in vain. All that’s left is the hope that his story starts the national and global conversation on the danger in inflicting the irreversible punishment of the death penalty.