Doubts raised about the guilt of Troy Davis, who is expected to be executed tonight in Georgia for killing a police officer, raise new questions about the Supreme Court’s determination that “executive clemency” – the power of a governor or review board to commute a death row sentence – is an adequate fail-safe for assessing death-row innocence claims, says the Christian Science Monitor.
“If a case like this doesn’t result in clemency, which is a discretionary process that calls a halt to an execution based on doubt surrounding the integrity of the verdict, then it suggests that clemency as a traditional fail-safe is not adequate,” says James Acker, a criminologist at SUNY-Albany. “The Davis case raises doubts about the discretionary clemency process and ultimately raises doubts about whether the legal system can tolerate this potential error in allowing a person to be executed.” While the number of people executed in the U.S. has dwindled over the past 15 years, a majority of Americans – about 64 percent – still support the death penalty. At a recent presidential candidate debate, a crowd cheered when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current Republican frontrunner, noted the 234 executions carried out under his watch.