Federal Prisons in Canada
a petty criminal from Winnipeg was accused of strangling a 16 year old adolescent girl in 1981. In march 1985 he was found guilty. After having gone through three trials and two convictions, the Supreme Court freed him after 4 years in prison.In 2000 the police department identified a new suspect and acknowledged Thomas Sophonow's innocence. He was wrongly accused. The government offered an apology.The president of the inquiry pointed the finger at the dubious interrogation methods, the police's tunnel vision, the fact that the crown attorneys never disclosed essential elements to the defence lawyers during three trials, an informer's perjury who saw his 26 fraud charges dropped, and that another was on his 9th testimony.“Thomas Stephanow's judicial errors were minuscule compared to those committed by the state.” Peter Cory, retired Supreme Court judge.Thomas Sophonow received 2.6 million dollars in compensation.
a bank manager from Newfoundland was accused of strangling his wife and convicted to life in prison in 1989. After 8 and one half years he is freed on bail and is granted a new trial.In 2000 Ron Dalton is exonerated of the murder. Forensic evidence determined that his wife choked on her cereal and died. There had never been a crime.In 2006 the government apologised to him. He received 750,000 dollars.
These wrongly accused cases all have the same elements: gruesome events engulfed in a media frenzy and an angry public pressing for a quick conviction. They all have the same symptoms: dubious methods, tunnel vision, and too much zeal.
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: wanting to make a name for oneself, the god complex, prejudice, incompetence, pressure, malice, indifference, too many episodes of Rookie Blue, Hawaii Five-0 et cetera.
Human error? Possibly, but too many human errors equates to incompetence.