Capital punishment is far from a new concept, but recently, a capital case from 1989 has outraged many Americans. Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer, among other crimes, and was sentenced to death. Since the original trial, seven of the nine eyewitnesses linking Davis to the crime changed all or part of their testimony. Some of them said they felt pressure from police officers to implicate Davis. It took many years and several postponed execution dates, but Davis was not able to win an appeal and was denied clemency from the state of Georgia for the last time on Tuesday.
In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, only 11.9% of respondents were familiar with the Troy Davis case. Another 20.1% had heard of it, but didn’t know much about the details. Of those who were familiar with the case, 58.7% said he should have been granted clemency because of the holes in the case against him. Only 13% said he should not have been granted clemency, and 28.3% were undecided.
The Death Penalty
Though those familiar with the case seem to think the death penalty is not the answer for Troy Davis, they do seem to think it may be the answer in other cases. Only 16.8% of respondents were completely against the death penalty, while 28.4 were for it, and 40.7% were for it only in extreme cases. Another 14.2% were undecided.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
In cases like Troy Davis’s, where there might be a small doubt as to guilt because of holes found in evidence years after the crime, 39.7% said that convicts should be given every possible chance to prove their innocence. 28.4% said that it should be decided on a case-by-case basis, 17% said clemency should only be considered in very extreme circumstances, and 6.2% said that the current appeals process is long enough and convicts should have to prove reasonable doubt then.
The US Supreme Court has delayed the execution of Troy Davis while they consider a last-minute appeal. Protesters continue to voice their opinions as more and more Americans educate themselves about the situation. Will this case change America’s opinion on capital punishment?
UPDATE: The Supreme Court denied Davis’s appeal and he was executed Wednesday night.