Bipolar America

by lizard

“May God have mercy on your souls.”

Troy Anthony Davis is dead. His legal clock finally ran out, and tonight the state of Georgia executed him.

I was going to juxtapose two images to begin this post; one an image from the jubilant celebration of the long awaited implementation of DADT repeal, the other the image of a black man hanging from a tree.

But that would have been a bit over the top. Poor black men who are alleged to have done something horrendous to an upstanding member of the dominant race (in this case a cop), and who lack the resources to mount an adequate legal defense, aren’t strung up to hang from tree branches anymore. No, we Americans allow for much more humane methods of execution to deal with our condemned in the 21st century.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that produces wild mood swings. Anyone who cares about equality and social justice tonight is probably experiencing an emotional plunge from the elation experienced earlier this week as DADT died a well-deserved death, to disgust and despair that a man who maintained his innocence until the end was killed by the state of Georgia.

But it wasn’t a state that carried out the execution tonight, it was people doing their jobs within this corrupt, inequitable, immoral judicial system we have in this country. And our thoughts should be with them as well, because they will live with their participation in this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

And thanks to the signatories of this statement, representatives of the corrections system added their voice to the concern and alarm that Troy Davis’ impending execution caused. Read the statement in full below the fold:


We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

We write to you today with the overwhelming concern that an innocent person could be executed in Georgia tonight. We know the legal process has exhausted itself in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, and yet, doubt about his guilt remains. This very fact will have an irreversible and damaging impact on your staff. Many people of significant standing share these concerns, including, notably, William Sessions, Director of the FBI under President Ronald Reagan.

Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?

We urge you to ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider their decision. Should that fail, we urge you to unburden yourselves and your staff from the pain of participating in such a questionable execution to the extent possible by allowing any personnel so inclined to opt-out of activities related to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Further, we urge you to provide appropriate counseling to personnel who do choose to perform their job functions related to the execution. If we may be of assistance to you moving forward, please do not hesitate to call upon any of us.

Respectfully and collegially,

Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison
Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Dennis O’Neill – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison

  1. Minor problem – during his trial 34 witnesses were called by the state against Troy Anthony Davis; one of them was an airman sitting in a van in the Burger King parking lot that fateful night, who said on the stand, “You don’t forget someone that stands over and shoots someone.”

    The guy was guilty as hell – and needed a tall tree and a short rope many years ago with no lengthy appeals.

    • lizard19

      major problem—more than a half dozen witnesses claimed they were coerced by police. that’s serious, and Troy Davis, guilty or not, should have received a new trial.

      your last comment is really disturbing, Eric. makes you sound like you are nostalgic for the good old days of n*gger lynchings. thanks for reminding us how little some of you on the right have evolved. you are a real POS.

    • Eric – that particular county has had something like 3 or 5 death penalty convictions repealed, and GA has a pretty large stat too in that regards. So that legal system has problems.

      And I dare suggest that you and I would agree that our legal system has problems.

      How does American kill its prisoners while when China does it (I’m not talking political here, I’m talking as in when they fire-squaded those involved in the poisoned milk scandal a few years back) or when Iran does it, it is somehow barbaric?

      The taking of a life is not the job of a fellow human. Waving the flag over it does not make it OK. We have a justice system that is geared to provide better justice to those that can afford it.

      Everyone is afforded an attorney. BS. We have been cutting those budgets for years and public defenders are overloaded and are ‘cramming’ for hearings because the lack of time to do adequate background and research and investigation.

      We get what we pay for. Our constitution guarantees a little more, and to take a life without adequate defense in a system that is less than perfect is wrong.

      It’s not like “oops” or “sorry” is OK after the fact.

      And didn’t’ someone else confess to that crime, Eric?

  2. Pronghorn

    Amy Goodman on Democracy Now provided amazing, gut-wrenching live coverage of the vigil and execution aftermath outside the prison last night. Excerpts are here…

    If so inclined, support the Montana Abolition Coalition

  3. I don’t know where you come from lizard, but this is Montana, where at one point frontier justice was a tall tree and a short rope. Google up the letters 3-7-77 and learn something today.

    Davis got every appeal, got every hearing, and most importantly got a jury trial. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty.

    This is just the latest topic for liberal hand-wringing, they’ll soon be onto something else, now that Davis is gone.

    • lizard19

      Eric, you perfectly exemplify the regressive mentality yearning for some code of the west myth you and your ilk have conjured up and are now trying to impose through stupid legislation.

      where do i come from? i come from the latter half of the 20th century, where America is suppose to be some amazing, exceptional shining city on the hill that everyone else in the world should model themselves after.

      the reality is our incarceration nation is an ugly, brutal, unjust place that has more in common with countries we like to demonize, like Iran, than more judicially equitable countries that don’t have to incarcerate and kill so many of their own citizens.

      maybe one day you guys will succeed in turning the clock back, and you’ll be able to saunter into a bar with your six shooter and kill any man who done you wrong.

      after all, that’s how the west was won, right Eric? good times.

    • Kirsten

      Speaking of that jury trial, at least three of the jurors have expressed doubts about his guilt knowing what they know now, and one has explicitly stated that if she knew then what she knows now, Davis would not have been on death row at all.

      Jury trials are an important part of the justice system, but with a judge controlling the evidence they see, a prosecutor who is incentivized to deliver a conviction over justice, and law enforcement who are hardly ever held accountable for the abuses they commit, jury trials aren’t infallible.

  4. JC

    So these folks are what you call “liberal hand-wringers”, Eric?

    Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison
    Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
    Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
    Dennis O’Neill – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
    Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
    Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison

    You’re frickin’ nuts. These people have killed way more criminals than you have. And maybe a few innocents, too. This topic defies your cushy liberal/conservative bipolar political topology.

  5. Let me guess JC – you think that the death penalty should be abolished, while it’s perfectly OK to abort a whole generation of unborn children – and you call conservatives bipolar ?

    The death penalty has it’s purpose – there are Timothy McVeighs, and Troy Anthony Davis’s in the world who are perfect candidates.

    • Steve W

      OK Eric, so let me summarize your argument.

      The government functions extremely efficiently and it functions in the best interests of all the citizens.

      Government is the end all and be all. If government goes through a process and says Davis is guilty, then Davis is guilty.

      When , on the other hand, government says human caused carbon dioxide is changing the climate, and goes through a much longer and more rigorous evidence gathering and analysis process to prove that than it did to prove Davis’ guilt, its just a hoax. Government can’t be trusted to do science because government is inefficient and biased.

      You sound bipolar to me, Eric. Don’t you sound bipolar to you?

      Personally I’m glad our government doesn’t perform abortions, and I wish they would quit performing executions.

      We need to include that in the Federal Law that prohibits federal funds going to fund abortions. It should also prohibit federal funds going to fund executions, or from funding the prisons where executions are carried out.

  6. Wrong Steve – It was a jury of his peers (DAVIS), who unanimously agreed on his guilt, not the government.

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