Scalia Ignores Innocently Incarcerated

By Jonathan Adams Mar 25, 2008

Tip to Too Sense A New York Times article, today, reports that Justice Antonin Scalia, in assessing the U.S. criminal justice system, is satisfied knowing that innocent people are convicted. Scalia writes, "one cannot have a system of criminal punishment without accepting the possibility that someone will be punished mistakenly. That is a truism, not a revelation.” NYT writer, Adam Liptak, reports that Scalia figures "the rate at which innocent people are convicted of felonies is, he said, less than three-hundredths of 1 percent — .027 percent, to be exact." Samuel R. Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, questions these numbers:

In this year’s Annual Review of Law and Social Science, “we could estimate the proportion of baseball players who’ve used steroids by dividing the number of major league players who’ve been caught by the total of all baseball players at all levels: major league, minor league, semipro, college and Little League — and maybe throwing in football and basketball players as well.”

While Scalia relies solely on the system to reverse its errors and free the wrongly convicted, it is clear that Black men continue to bear the brunt of Scalia’s misguided faith.

Black men are more likely to be falsely convicted of rape than are white men, particularly if the victim is white. Juveniles are more likely to confess falsely to murder. Exonerated defendants are less likely to have serious criminal records. People who maintain their innocence are more likely to be innocent. The longer it takes to solve a crime, the more likely the defendant is not guilty.