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Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions

A new report on wrongful convictions prepared by prosecutors and police in Canada has been released.

"Various commissions and studies in Canada and around the world have provided valuable insight into the systemic causes of wrongful convictions and into what has gone wrong in individual cases," the report says...."What is startling, however, is that some problems, themes and mistakes arise time and time again, regardless of where the miscarriage of justice took place."

Fault lies with the conduct of police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, judges and forensic scientists, and they are not confined to proceedings in the courtroom, says the report.

The report compares wrongful convictions to natural disasters, and says they are rarely the result of just one thing going wrong.

"Police officers, Crown counsel, forensic scientists, judges and defence counsel all have a role to play in ensuring that innocent people are not convicted of crimes they didn't commit," says the report. "As useful as commissions of inquiry may be, they usually come many years after the fact. The goal of all justice system participants must be to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring in the first place."

The report identifies the leading causes:

The leading cause is "tunnel vision" by police--like picking their suspect and then looking for facts to fit the supsect instead of investigating the facts and letting the facts lead them to a suspect. [my description, not their's.]

After that: mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, jailhouse snitches, and expert testimony:

"Tainted, tailored and unsubstantiated expert evidence couched in scientific terms and language, based on unreliable fact and ultimately debunked science" is a leading cause of wrongful convictions.

The 155 page report is available here. [links via CrimProf Blog ]

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    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 05:33:57 AM EST
    In Canada? Oh well, so much for Xanadu.

    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#2)
    by mpower1952 on Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 06:46:29 AM EST
    Yes, Canada too. But at least they've admitted there's a problem unlike every prosecuter etc. who's had a conviction erased in the US.

    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#3)
    by pigwiggle on Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 07:49:55 AM EST
    The Canadian justice system has some real credibility problems with Canadian citizens. The last large UN crime survey showed that Canadians are reluctant to report crimes to the police and perceive law enforcement as exceptionally corrupt. The rates of reported incidences of robbery, burglary, and sexual assault are greater than here at home, and further the survey showed that the alleged rates were remarkable.

    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#4)
    by wishful on Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 02:52:43 PM EST
    The goal of all justice system participants must be to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring in the first place." I do not believe this to even be on the radar screen of many participants. A main goal seems to be to get as many plea bargains as possible, using threats of incredibly long sentences and additional charges if one loses at trial. Allusions to "manufactured" evidence is known to be used. These tactics seem to be used with the innocent as well as the guilty. Justice? I think not.

    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 02:00:40 AM EST
    This report is long awaited and much celebrated - even with the public's low opinion of the system, it is still exceedingly difficult to get anyone to listen when you are wrongfully imprisoned... If you can't afford a lawyer, there is little hope at all. It remains to be seen how this report actually affects the ways things are done, or if it will retroactively assist the innocent already in prison? I have personal experience with this as I am fighting for my husband who is wrongfully serving year eleven of a life sentence, based on false medical evidence, hysterical accusations, a tainted investigation, and misconstrued expert testimony. I am taking a petition to the Minister of Justice once there's enough signatures. The whole story is at www.FreeDarrenKoehn.com This new report may be some help, I hope, to gain momentum for change... cheers

    Re: Canada : New Report on Wrongful Convictions (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 04:55:46 AM EST
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