couple of weeks ago, David Love penned an article “Reggie
Clemons is Troy Davis.” The article highlighted the
troubling doubts in the cases of Troy Davis and Reggie
Clemons. Love had no idea that I’ve been working on the
Clemons’ case for twenty years (he does now since we talked
about it!). The case has all the common elements of wrongful
conviction in a capital murder case that subsequently
leads to the death penalty.
Chain of Rocks Bridge case reads like a Hollywood
movie script except that it is a real life nightmare for
the co-defendants, the victims and their families. Love
did an excellent job in making a prima facie case for
Reggie and so I will not take up space rehashing it here.
Clemons is the last defendant facing death in a case rife
with contradictions. Clemons’ supporters have worked long
and hard for his innocence, so it is not surprising that
his case is finally receiving international attention.
A special judge was appointed by the Missouri Supreme
Court and is scheduled to hear evidence in the case on
September 17, 2012.
has been a state vying for top billing in executions along
with Texas and Florida. At one point, the state was #3 in executions.
There have only been two executions in the last five years
in Missouri, due to the untiring work of death penalty
opponents, three innocent men being freed from death row,
serious doubts raised about three others who were executed,
several more exonerated who had received life without
parole, juries no longer being gun-ho in giving death
sentences and the scarcity of the lethal injection drugs.
state of Misery was targeted by the American Bar Association,
who was looking at the application of capital punishment
in several states. The ABA released
their report on Missouri last week
titled, “Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State
Death Penalty Systems: The Missouri Death Penalty Assessment Report.” Although the report
stopped short of recommending a moratorium or abolishment
of the death penalty, it did underscore major problems
in the system.
panel of law professors, private-sector attorneys and
federal judges reviewed Missouri’s system as part of the organization’s assessment of laws,
procedures and practices of states still utilizing the
barbaric system. Not surprisingly, the report found several
flaws in Missouri’s
system, from improperly preserving forensic evidence (such
as DNA) to not tracking racial statistics in death penalty
cases. Several recommendations were made for reform, including
narrowing the law so that only the most serious capital
murder cases are eligible for the death penalty.
am one who believes you can’t improve a rotten, barbaric
system of justice; I am in fundamental opposition to the
death penalty. I do understand that those of us who oppose
it have the ultimate burden to prove that it is unjust,
inhumane and costly on many different levels.
your state still has the death penalty, you have a Troy
Davis or a Reggie Clemons sitting on your state’s death
row that needs your support in the overall struggle to
end the death penalty. These statewide efforts all count
towards building the “evolving standards of decency that
mark the progress of a maturing society,” as stated by
Chief Justice Earl Warren. Abolishing the death penalty
is still an uphill battle, particularly when you have
court rulings that say new evidence is not enough to re-open
a death penalty case. It means this society has a ways
to go to reach Justice Warren’s standards of decency.
spotlight is shining on Missouri’s
death penalty system. Some are running for cover like
roaches into the cracks. Some are distorting the facts
to confuse the public. And some are fighting to make the
death penalty a historic relic of our judicial system.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader
of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical Congress
National Organizer. Additionally, she is an Alston-Bannerman
Fellow. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Click
here to contact Ms. Rogers.