Federal Prisons in Canada
condemned to death at the age of fourteen for the murder and rape of twelve year old Lynne Harper in 1959. In January 1960 the Ontario Court of Appeals rejected his motion. The Supreme Court rejected his motion in February 1960 and May 1967 stating that the conviction was maintained because the trial had proceeded in a just and legal manner.48 years later, in August 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the conviction considering it a miscarriage of justice. It acquitted 62 year old Steven Truscott of the murder of Lynne Harper. He had always proclaimed his innocence and that he was victim to a wrongful conviction.Steven Truscott spent 10 years in prison. The Attorney General apologised to him.In 2008 Steven Truscott received 6.5 million dollars in compensation.
of Sault Ste. Marie, was condemned in 1964 of having sodomised and strangled his four year old niece Valin Johnson. No scientific evidence tied him to the crime. He was falsely labelled a pedophile and was the victim of a wrongful conviction.William Mullins-Johnson was condemned by the testimony of the expert pathologist Charles Smith who had also testified in the suspicious deaths of 41 other children. He is now discredited. His incompetence or prejudice led to the convictions, for murder or negligence, of 13 other people. His other testimonies were put to a review.In September 2005 the Ontario Superior Court freed him on bail while Ottawa debated whether this was a miscarriage of justice case.The chief pathologist of Ontario declared that Valin Johnson died of natural causes, probably in her vomit. The autopsy showed no traces of injuries to the neck or to the anus. There had never been a crime.In October 2007 Mullins-Johnson was exonerated after 12 years of prison. "It's regrettable" [for William Mullins-Johnson] said the Attorney General and offered an agology.In 2010 William Mullins-Johnson received 4.5 million dollars in compensation
These wrongful convictions all have the same elements: horrific events engulfed in a media circus and an inflamed public demanding a quick conviction of a crime. They all have the same symptoms: too much zeal, tunnel vision, and doubtful methods.
This gives the impression of a non functional judicial system. This is false. There are many safeguards notably the presumption of innocence and that an accused must be found quilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The latter renders it infallible.
Reasonable doubt was omnipresent and could have avoided shattering the lives of these victims of crimes committed by the state and those of their families and friends. It would have also saved the honour of the system.
Why the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt were not respected remains speculative: prejudice, incompetence, pressure, malice, indifference, wanting to make a name for oneself, the god complex, too many episodes of Rookie Blue, CSI: New York et cetera.
Human error? Possibly, but too many human errors equates to incompetence.