Troy Davis is set to die, for the fourth time, next week.
But it’s nearly impossible to believe that Davis is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If he was, he would probably not be scheduled for execution for a fourth time on Sept. 21.
The 42-year-old was convicted of murdering off-duty police officer Mark Macphail in August 1989 in Savannah, Ga., and has been on death row for nearly 20 years.
The Troy Davis case is deeply problematic. Seven of nine witnesses who testified against Davis have since recanted, many saying they were coerced by police. And there is no physical evidence tying him to the crime scene.
One of the two witnesses who did not recant his testimony, Sylvester “Red” Coles, has been identified by other witnesses as the likely shooter. While nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Coles, no court has held a hearing on the new evidence.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will decide on Monday whether Davis will be executed that week during a final clemency hearing.
Earlier this week, the NAACP and Amnesty International launched the #TooMuchDoubt campaign, which is already gaining significant traction worldwide.
The effort encourages people to take action and work to save Davis’ life in three ways: signing a petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons, writing a letter to Davis, and spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter.
And on Thursday, William Sessions—the former director of the FBI under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton—called for the state to grant Davis clemency in a piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Others, including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu, and at least 51 members of the House have called for halting Davis’ execution.
“To execute a person based off of circumstantial evidence that does not even pan out is pretty cruel,” says Mark Clements, an activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty who spent 28 years in prison for and was exonerated. Police detectives beat and tortured Clements until he was forced to confess to an arson-murder. He has spent years working to free Troy Davis.
“In first discovering the Troy Davis case, it was mind blowing then,” he said. “I was in prison and I wondered what I could do to help him. And now the shoe is on the other foot and I’m out and working for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to stop all executions.”
Davis’ case serves as a microcosm of a system of state-sponsored killing that tears apart poor communities—and especially poor communities of color. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 82 percent of all studies found that race of the victim matters in death penalty cases, with those accused of killing white victims more likely to face capital punishment.
In a rare move on Thursday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay in the execution of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck.
Some states are abolishing the death penalty system in light of the statistics, as Illinois did earlier this year. Others have placed moratoriums on its use because of a shortage of the drug mainly used in execution.
Georgia is one of the states facing a shortage of the drug, meaning Davis could be executed with a compound normally used to euthanize animals.
Troy Davis is not an animal. And, unfortunately, his time may be running out.