‘a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt’

This morning, six retired corrections officials, including Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where he oversaw executions for the state, have sent the following letter to Georgia Corrections Officials and Governor Nathan Deal asking them to urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider the decision they made on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 to deny Troy Davis Clemency despite concerns about his guilt.


We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

We write to you today with the overwhelming concern that an innocent person could be executed in Georgia tonight. We know the legal process has exhausted itself in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, and yet, doubt about his guilt remains. This very fact will have an irreversible and damaging impact on your staff. Many people of significant standing share these concerns, including, notably, William Sessions, Director of the FBI under President Ronald Reagan.

Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?

We urge you to ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider their decision. Should that fail, we urge  you to unburden yourselves and your staff from the pain of participating in such a questionable execution to the extent possible  by allowing any personnel so inclined to opt-out of activities related to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Further, we urge you to provide appropriate counseling to personnel who do choose to perform their job functions related to the execution. If we may be of assistance to you moving forward, please do not hesitate to call upon any of us.

Respectfully and collegially,

Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison
Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Dennis O’Neill – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison

89 Responses to “‘a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt’”

  1. 1 Me4obama
    September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Good night Family, I hope when I wake up tomorrow Troy Davis will still be alive.

  2. 4 vero804
    September 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Looks like the Republicans in the House rejected a plan to fund the government through Nov., and Democrats wouldn’t help because Can’tor slipped in a plan to cut spending to fund disaster relief. Jokes.

  3. 6 P
    September 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I didn’t really kept abreast with this case but from what I am reading now and from the unanimous support of the public it’s a sad sad time. If this man is really innocent I can only imagine how his family is feeling now. My prayers go out to them. 😦

  4. 7 Obama Grandmama
    September 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Anyone hear anything about Bill Clinton being against PBO’s tax hikes for the millionaires? I am wondering if former Prez Clinton’s words have been twisted or misunderstood as it seems weird to me that he would counter what PBO is doing. Not sure what this is about. I thought maybe his words were misrepresented by Eric Cantor. If that is true I hope Clinton will set the record straight. .

  5. 10 Insomniac
    September 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Execution on hold…last ditch appeal to the Supreme Court: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44592285/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

  6. 11 utaustinliberal
    September 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    “A Lifelong Sentence of Nagging Doubt.” Couldn’t have put it any better. This is why I don’t support the notion of the death penalty. There is always the “what if ” scenario. That sliver of doubt should be enough to give the powers that be pause. If an innocent human being is lost due to the death penalty; it does not make for a great nights sleep for those with a conscience who had the power to stop it.

  7. September 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    a friend who’s a lawyer says that SCOTUS delay is just a tactic to ensure police has response needed after the execution takes place. It would definitely explain the increase in police presence and the riot police.

    God I hope that’s not the case…I’ve got to go to sleep, but the Davis family and the victim’s familiy are all in my prayers tonight.

    night everybody.

    • 14 vero804
      September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

      I’m a lawyer and I think that’s pretty cynical. The Supremes had issues to deliberate, which I’m sure they took their time with. Cops have been there all day already. Cops are increasing because, naturally, the longer this was strung out, the more the people’s feelings would grow more sensitive.

      • September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm

        SCOTUS refused the stay. My friend may have been cynical, but it this case I think he may have been right.

        Son of a bitch!

        • 16 EDP4BHO
          September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

          I’m with you lamh31. Looked to me like 1960s south. I am done hoping anything for this goddamn nation.

        • 17 vero804
          September 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

          It’s awful. I just can’t see the Supreme Court taking this long to allow Georgia officials to get law enforcement in place for the execution. That’s a little too far of a bridge for me. Either way, they won’t spare his life.

  8. 28 jacquelineoboomer
    September 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    The Supreme Court denied the stay of execution. Now it’s up to the State of Georgia.

  9. 29 EDP4BHO
    September 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    SCOTUS refused a stay. To hell with this country !

    • 30 jacquelineoboomer
      September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      It’s not the country at large; it’s some of the awful people in it. Unfortunately, some of them have power. I wish this awful circumstance would spring forth a move to abolish the damn death penalty once and for all.

      • 31 EDP4BHO
        September 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm

        Jacqueline, it’s the some of the awful people that have too much power over the rest of us, and it hasn’t gotten better for black folk at all. If anything, since PBO’s been elected, I feel the deterioration of all gains made, and that affects the entire nation. I do not feel good here, and it took this event to convince me I need to get out, or atleast fight like hell against everything I hate here, and I can’t promise I will ever be patient and forgiving. I have a mean temper when I am hurt, so I may never feel good about any prospects for this nation on whole. I will forever hold PBO in my prayers, but I feel drained and doubtful about everything. Seems evil continues to win. Hell with Sotomayer and Kagan, and all the rest of SC, and may those in Georgia rot in hell.

        • 32 jacquelineoboomer
          September 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm

          EDP4BHO – Please don’t think I was trivializing your personal feelings in any way – and please forgive me, if I came across that way. I was referring in general to those of us who know injustice when we see it, even when we are hopeless to do anything about it.

          • 33 EDP4BHO
            September 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm

            Oh no not at all jacqueline. This was not against you in any way. Wish I could put on the smiley face but I am hurt like I haven’t been hurt in a very long time. I’m bewildered as I listen to Democracy Now reporting that Troy is being killed right now. America with blood on its hands yet again. Peace to you jacqueline. Such a very sad night in this country. By the way, I may have been too quick to damn Sotomayer and Kagan as I didn’t quite understand what no dissent means. God speed Troy Davis and his family.

  10. 35 Doris
    September 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Oh Lord, he’s in your hands. Thank you Lord. We’re all in your hands. Amen.

  11. 36 vero804
    September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    How do u get a job as an executioner? No thank u.

  12. 40 utaustinliberal
    September 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    They’re gathering everyone needed in the room for the excecution. The McPhail family, Troy’s family and others. The execution will take place in 20-30 minutes. It seems like the Supreme Court was giving the Georgia police time to gather about 100 police and swat teams so that if any protests broke out, they could stop it.

  13. 42 jacquelineoboomer
    September 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    The NBC reporter on the scene says he has confirmed the execution will take place within an hour, possibly within a half hour. God bless everyone involved … I hope the people outside remain calm, if at all possible, so they don’t get hurt.

    Ben Jealous just said “It’s a sad day for our country.”

  14. September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Whoa! Anderson Pooper is interviewing the family member who was allegedly killed by Davis. She said she was talking to his picture tonite! Anderson asked, what did the picture say?


  15. 44 EDP4BHO
    September 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Oh Lord, now Democracy Now is reporting that the WH says it’s not appropriate to weigh in on this, and a member of Amnesty Int’l says it is sad of them to take this line. I’m done y’all. Whatever is whatever. I hold no hope of good here. Thinking about moving to another country, for a while now. The AI member calls this all grotesque. I will never cheer another SC appointee as it doesn’t seem to matter. Execution will proceed within a half hour. Now the racist feel justice is served since the Texas truck driver was killed today. Yes, Troy Davis is/has been being tortured in all this.

    • 45 vero804
      September 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Keep ur head up. It was always a long shot that the Supremes would be able to stop it. It’s standard operating procedure to drag PBO into the drama, for the usual professional left suspects.

    • 46 hopefruit2
      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      No it is NOT appropriate for the WH to weigh in. This man has been on death row for 20 years, and he has come close to being executed on more than one occasion before Obama was elected, yet no one required or asked Bush 41, Clinton or Bush 43 to weigh in. It is tremendously unfair and inappropriate to require that President Obama “weigh in” on this issue – why? Just because he’s a Black President? And even if the President weighs in, it will not have any real benefit to Mr. Davis or anyone else involved.

      Furthermore, this is ultimately the state of Georgia’s decision, not the SCOTUS. Do you realize that the state could still have gone ahead and executed Mr. Davis even while they were supposedly waiting for a decision? The decision did not rest with the SCOTUS.

  16. September 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I’m really pissed at this. I don’t blame the family, I blame CNN they are using this woman for ratings and sensationalism…freakin’ bastards.

    I’m with James Fallows from twitter:

    “JamesFallows James Fallows
    Why oh why is mother of the poor murdered Savannah cop doing live comment on CNN about execution? This is indecent – like whole thing”

  17. September 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    This thread is ONLY for thoughts about Troy Davis, please don’t post other stuff here, thanks.

  18. September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    **** deleted****

    Chipsticks: Jovie, this thread is only for thoughts on Troy Davis, have some respect. Sorry, but I’m putting you on pending for tonight, everything else can wait for another day.

  19. 53 donna dem 4 obama
    September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    To the Davis Family…

    “Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow,
    May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.”

  20. 54 collegekay
    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I’m so fucking mad I can’t even think straight. This country is fucked up!! I pray for Troy’s family and I hope he is at peace.

  21. 55 GOVCHRIS1988
    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Its in God’s hands now.

    Sometimes freedom doesn’t come in life, but in paradise. May it come to Mr. Davis in any way possible.

  22. 56 Anya
    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    It’s really sad day. I am heart sick about all this thirst for revenge and killing that drove a state to murder a possibly innocent man. How can anyone be part of this travesty? I am sure some of the people who pushed this know in their heart of hearts that they’ve committed injustice. I hope the people at the Georgia clemency board can live with themselves. Shame on CNN for using a grieving mother. SICK!

  23. September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I am trying to change the subject! It’s so fucked up, I dint want to discuss it!

    Misdirected anger towards me is not what I had in mind!

    Lashing out at me will not change our messed up justice system!

    We will see u Thursday!

    • September 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      I’m reserving my anger for the state of Georgia tonight, Jovie, as you should too. I appreciate all you bring here, but tonight is not a night to ‘change the subject’. Show some respect for an innocent man who is about to be executed. I’ll leave you on pending, you’re way out of order.

      • September 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

        Shut up! Seriously! Shut up! Thus is the stupidest thing you have ever said.
        And of course only your responses are shown!
        Just take a xanax say a prayer and stop using me as an outlet for your pain!!!!!

        I am done with you and your scapegoating!

  24. 60 donna dem 4 obama
    September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    “O Lord, we call upon You in our time of sorrow,
    That You give us the strength and will to bear our heavy
    burdens, until we can again feel the warmth and love of
    Your divine compassion. Be mindful of us and have mercy
    on us while we struggle to comprehend life’s hardships.
    Keep us ever in Your watch, til we can walk again with
    light hearts and renewed spirits.”

    Good Night TOD and God Bless the Davis Family

    • 61 jacquelineoboomer
      September 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      For comfort, I looked for the words Robert F. Kennedy spoke on April 4, 1968, a different time and place and event – but strikingly similar relating to man’s inhumanity to man. Among his words:

      – From the poet Aeschylus:

      “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

      – And from RFK’s heart:

      “And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

  25. September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Jeffery Toobin on CNN said that the fact that is was with no dissent and that there was note of any dissent, means that it was unanaimous(sp??). He said that if it wasn’t then there would have been some note of a dissenter.

    Make of that what you will. Is he right?

    • 63 vero804
      September 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      That’s how I understand it. Unanimous. I just can’t believe that when the Supremes sent his case back for consideration of the new evidence, this wasn’t overturned or at least dropped from being a death penalty case.

  26. 65 Tally
    September 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I was in the car when the word came at 4:01pm PDT that there was a delay (and that he had received a stay – that later proved false), and I burst into tears. I was so happy I couldn’t belive it.

    Now this. There are no words for what a travisty this is.

    There are horrid ugly people posting on CNN, claiming to be democrats/pro PBO – and cheering the news. These people are such poison.

    • 66 Janelle
      September 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Tally, try to stay away from the comments. Remember that RW trolls respond to all sites these days to stir up people’s emotions to cause divisions. I don’t know any real PBO supporters that would be excited over death even if some democrats are for the death penalty. You’re right that CNN attracts ugly people, just like H.Post.

  27. September 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    And chip,
    Didn’t you just do to me what the justice system did to Troy?

    You let your feelings decide a matter! This whole eye for an eye old testament stuff is wrong! But, as long as it makes you feel better, then put me in pending!

    Have a good night!

    • September 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      “Didn’t you just do to me what the justice system did to Troy?”

      There’s so much I could say to you Jovie after that comment, but you’re just not worth it.

      You will never be welcome here again.

      Rest in peace, Troy Davis.

  28. 69 a4alice
    September 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Praying for peace of any kind for all. Need sleep. Nite everyone.

  29. 70 Bobfr
    September 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    YousefMunayyer Yousef Munayyer
    by nightowl22366
    #TroyDavis won’t be the first innocent executed but he can be the last if his death is the beginning of a movement and not the end of one.


  30. September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Those looking for justice will find it elsewhere. Some forms of justice is practiced on “just us”.
    So now isthe time for dumb questions by the media……AMERICA or should i say AMERIKKKA the light of the world is on your ass! The internal hate and animosity in this country is rapidly reducing us to a third world country. The sad part is that the spark for this are greedy, selfish, narrow minded and they have most of the guns in this country.

    • 73 EDP4BHO
      September 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      “and they have most of the guns in this country.”

      And that’s why these red states have instituted more laws to carry. I do believe we are gearing up for a civil war.

  31. 74 vero804
    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Execution is happening right now. Eery.

  32. September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    This whole process is such a sickening travesty. I’m sorry, I just don’t understand.

  33. 76 vero804
    September 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Anyone listening to Rachel? She’s reporting on how messed up the lethal injection that is geing used, is. Gosh, this goes from bad to worse.

  34. 77 Bobfr
    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    If the legacy of Troy Davis is the consolidation of a collective, unrelenting effort to halt State executions of any person then this travesty will have catalyzed an advancement in the quality of our society.

    Otherwise it will be another travesty, perhaps forgotten but an indelible stain on who we are.


  35. 79 GOVCHRIS1988
    September 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Troy Anthony Davis was declared dead at 11:08 P.M. God almighty, help us.

  36. 80 jacquelineoboomer
    September 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Troy Davis if 42 years old, the same age as my son, whom I love more than anyone in the universe. There but for the grace of God go I …

    If anyone sees any new movements tomorrow to abolish the death penalty, please post the information. I’ll be looking, as well. Thank you.

  37. 83 P
    September 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Did the President agreed with the execution of Troy Davis?

    • 84 EDP4BHO
      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      I feel certain he would not have P. But he could not intervene even though the net is hot with folk blaming him for not doing so. Even the governor was not allowed to do so, and this is the case in 5 states. Wonder how long it will be before most if not all states will become locked down this way.

      • 85 P
        September 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm

        Thanks…..that’s what I thought. I just wanted to know because that’s what I am seeing on facebook. People could spread bad rumors boyyy…stuepsss

  38. 86 HZ
    September 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    My heart is so full tonight. Lord, please teach us how to get it right just once. Please have mercy on this country. Wake us up to what really matters on this earth. It is another very sad day in our country. Please forgive us and show us how to get it right, please Lord. I hurt for both families. Please be with them tonight.HZ

  39. 87 gcwp1
    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    No politics. I wish he doesn’t suffer. I’m not religious, but the others here, pray for him and his family for me please.

  40. 89 Mae who love our CIC
    September 22, 2011 at 11:47 am

    To be absent in the body, is to be present with the Lord. Mr. Troy Davis is in a better place.

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