Amnesty International USA hosted a vigil and teach-in for Troy Davis, a man who may have been wrongfully sentenced to the death penalty for shooting a police officer over 19 years ago.
The death penalty is not a deterrent of crime at all. Jayanni Webster, student group president
Troy Davis, now 42, has been on death row since 1991 for the shooting of Officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Ga. even though there is no physical evidence against him, no weapon was found, and seven of the nine eye witnesses that originally testified against Davis retracted their statements.
The UT chapter of Amnesty International raised awareness about death penalty laws and Troy Davis' situation by handing out flyers and asking students to sign petitions to be sent to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, Davis' last chance to escape the death penalty.
In March 2011, Davis went before the Supreme Court to appeal his case but they refused him saying there was not sufficient evidence to prove his innocence.
Davis' meeting with the Board of Pardons and Paroles is Sept. 19 and his execution date is Sept. 21. The Board has the power to grant Davis clemency. If they do, he will serve a lifetime in prison but will no longer be on death row.
"The death penalty is not a deterrent of crime at all," Jayanni Webster, student group president for Amnesty International at UT, said as she explained why the group does not support the death penalty. It's not a fair process; the decision of who gets the death penalty is based on the political and racial views of that particular judge, Webster explained.
Avery Dobbs, student activist coordinator for Amnesty International in Tennessee, explained why the group opposes the death penalty for more than just humane reasons. Another downside of the death penalty is the costs. It costs almost twice as much to sentence someone with the death penalty in Tennessee because of the extra court processes the person has to go through once they are sentenced, Dobbs said. In addition to these costs, death row inmates are often in prison for more than 10 years, which costs the state money.
Amnesty International is a global human rights group. UT's chapter meets every Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. in the International House dining room.