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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/21/11

Twenty Tweets About Troy Davis and the Death Penalty

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This post consists of twenty tweets (in chronological order) from my twitter account late last night concerning Troy Davis.  For those who may not be aware, Davis is due to die by lethal injection at 7pm EST.  The evidence against him is controversial and, for many, not at all compelling, especially given the track record in such cases.  For example, the state of Illinois recently became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, a decision influenced mostly by the shocking revelation that over 50% of those executed by the state in past 15 years were exonerated by new DNA analysis not available at time of trial.  With Davis's execution just hours away, it is time to not only take immediate action to save his life (see last tweet) but to examine the system of capital punishment more broadly.

1. One day we'll look back on death penalty way we now look at slavery -unconscionable: Parole Board Statement re: Troy Davis

2.  The data are unambiguous, but most Americans still don't realize: If Troy Davis were white, he probably wouldn't get the death penalty.

3.  The U.S. Supreme Court put a stop to Federal executions in the 1970s because of incontrovertible evidence that the death penalty was racist.

4.  For those who are interested, look up the Furman v Georgia decision in 1972.

5.  Of course, just four years later, the same court finds the death penalty constitutional and the U.S. government goes back to killing people.

6.  How racist is the death penalty? Read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow for details, but here's one example (next tweet)

7.  75% of those convicted of participating in a drug enterprise were white, but 78% of those selected for capital prosecution were Black.

8.  It's not just the death penalty that's racist. It's the entire criminal justice system. See this piece I wrote in April

9.  Ladies and Gentlemen: The U.S. (in)Justice System

10. For those wondering where the statistics are from, they're from the Fed government. See

11. Here's the full report containing the statistics I cited.

12. More stats: Of 229 Federal executions since the death penalty was reinstated, only 1 involved a white defendant for murder of a black person

13. Smart piece in The Nation. Given data, calling it "murder" is hardly far-fetched | Tomorrow, Georgia Murders Troy Davis

14. Of course, the Parole Board Statement re: Troy Davis doesn't acknowledge any of this context:

15. "Even under the most sophisticated...statutes, race continues to play a major role in determining who shall live and who shall die" Justice Blackmun (1994 Callins v Collins)

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Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D., is a teaching associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches Psychology of Race and Ethnicity and courses on restorative justice.

Since 2009, Mikhail has been studying and working with conflict, particularly via Restorative Circles (a restorative practice developed in Brazil by Dominic Barter and associates) and other restorative responses to conflict. Together with Elaine Shpungin, he now supports schools, organizations, and workplaces in developing restorative strategies for engaging conflict, building conflict facilitation skills and evaluating the outcomes associated with restorative responses via Conflict 180.

In addition to conflict and restorative (more...)

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