I haven't blogged in awhile, partly because I'm lazy and writing is not something I particularly enjoy (yes, I know..why have a blog?) and partly I was just busy with life. However, sometimes I just can't continue on with my life activities and truly be present to enjoy them when there are so many injustices. I need to get it out somehow. My job has been especially taxing on me this year (emotionally and physically), so I have been somewhat emotional lately, but the execution of Troy Davis really got to me. The prison/justice system is not an area in which I work but it is an issue I really care about. Two documentaries really opened my eyes to the injustices and backward thinking of our supposed justice system: Books Not Bars about youth in the juvenile justice system and The Exonerated which follows the work of lawyers at the Innocence Project who work tirelessly to use DNA evidence to finally prove the innocence of people who have been locked up for years, sometimes more than 20 years. I've known that our justice system is far from perfect and have been very interested in restorative justice practices for about 6 years.
"LADIES - IN - WAITING" by Rita Fuchsberg
The execution of Troy Davis really struck a nerve with me...maybe because I was watching the news live and could see all the supporters and people hoping for a stay of execution. The lack of hard, physical evidence and the recantation of most of the eyewitnesses means that there was WAY beyond a reasonable doubt. I started thinking about my own husband or father or sister in his place. They could be sentenced to life or death just by a few people believing they committed a murder!?! That's extremely scary to me, especially because I know how unreliable eyewitness testimony is (The Innocence Project reports that eyewitness testimony is responsible for 75% of wrongful convictions). See video...
The one thing that gives me hope is seeing how many people were protesting the execution and hoping that more people now see how messed up our justice system is. Many people were affected by this execution, not only Troy Davis. Every person that is put to death has family - their kids, husbands/wives are affected, the executioners and prison wardens who participate are affected (executioners have said how haunting it is when someone like Troy Davis is maintaining their innocence to the end), and the victims' family is affected (I can't imagine the family in this case has no doubts). In the end, the execution probably brings more pain to everyone else who is touched by it...I can only imagine the trauma to family and executioners.
"The Anomie" by Misty Morris
One of the best art exhibits I have ever seen was about death row inmates. You could see the jumpsuits, toothbrushes, head covering, and even the catalog that items are ordered from. There were photographs made to look like posters that tested the viewer's biases towards someone in a jumpsuit. There were art works created by death row inmates. And one piece that really struck me was a small TV quietly playing tracks of inmates eating their last meals. On the wall behind, you could see a list of every person executed in the U.S. and what they requested for their last meal. It is a way to identify with the person, allow you to stop and reflect, and remember that they are human too. And we are not God.
"Finalmeal" by Barbara Caveng
"No II" by Peter Wortel