How Justice Scalia’s Death Penalty Argument Backfired

Our justice system is the best in the world, BUT it is and will always be imperfect. As such, the death penalty is an ultimate penalty to impose  when the possibility of getting it wrong exists.

A little over twenty years, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dismissive of then Justice Harry Blackmun’s concerns about the death penalty. In fact, Scalia had a case study in mind that demonstrated exactly why the system of capital punishment has value.

Justice Scalia specifically pointed to a convicted killer named Henry Lee McCollum as an obvious example of a man who deserved to be put to death. “For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in a 1994 ruling. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”

Yesterday, McCollum was pardoned. Scalia’s perfect example of a man who deserved to be killed by the state was innocentPrison Guard Killing Execution and was pardoned by the Governor of murder after spending three decades in prison.

The pardon is a welcome development, though the News & Observer added that the middle-aged men, after having spent most of their lives behind bars – and on death row – for a crime they didn’t commit, are struggling.
[T]he men have been living with their sister, who has struggled to pay rent and utilities on her home in Fayetteville. The Center for Death Penalty Litigation established a fund to help them survive.
Each man now qualifies for $50,000 for each year they were imprisoned, up to a maximum of $750,000. They needed a gubernatorial pardon in order to collect the compensation.
Justice Scalia has not yet commented on the news of this death penalty pardon he once championed and trumpeted.