Photo credit: Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer
On September 2, 2014, brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were exonerated and freed for the murder of an 11-year-old girl that took place in 1983. Last week, on June 4, 2015, nine months after they were exonerated, they were formally pardoned by Governor Pat McCrory and made eligible for compensation from the state of North Carolina for their wrongful convictions.
North Carolina offers $50,000 for “erroneous conviction and imprisonment” with a maximum cap of $750,000 in compensation. This means that McCollum and Brown will each be compensated for less than half the time that they spent in prison. If this state cap did not exist, they would each have received $1.55 million. However, for the brothers, money was not their primary goal.
In an article by the Washington Post, McCollum is quoted as saying:
"It ain't about money…it was about just being able to see that I was innocent of a crime I was charged with. It was just a blessing to be out here, to live a normal life."
McCollum was the longest serving death row inmate in North Carolina. His case was used by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as justification for the continued existence of the death penalty. Yet, McCollum is innocent.
To date, there have been 153 death row exonerees since 1973, including three so far this year. As long as the death penalty exists, we risk executing innocent people. That is not a risk that is worth taking. We must abolish the death penalty now.
Read the full primer on the pardons for Henry McCollum and Leon Brown on the Charlotte Observer: http://bit.ly/1JoMaj6.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has created the 90 Million Strong Campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference.