Canada's Dominance over United States Penal System
Name: Shenthuran Vijayananthan
Teacher: Mrs. Merenda
Due Date: Wed. Oct. 26, 2005
Topic: #1 Comparative Legal Systems (Canada vs. USA)
Thesis: Canada's criminal justice system, specifically laws dealing with punishment, is far superior to that of the United States
Canada and the United States of America are two neighboring countries who besides the border share numerous other key aspects. Though similar in beliefs and culture the two countries are far from alike. Their legal structure particularly the penal system is one of most significant boundaries between Canada and the United States. Though not perfect, it's absolutely clear that Canada has the far more superior legal system. Unlike the United States, Canada no longer practices capital punishment which is barbaric to say the least. Furthermore Canada's belief in conjunctive punishment is better with dealing with offenders than America's consecutive punishment. Finally Canada's goal to concentrate more on rehabilitating and educating criminals is far more effective and efficient in eradicating future crime then just incarcerating them. There are two main types of law, Substantive and Procedural. Substantive law creates, defines and regulates rights and obligations of citizens; in contrast procedural law prescribes the manner to enforce rights and obligations. (Dickson) Substantive law divides into Public law which in turn breaks up into four other laws including criminal law. Criminal law outlines all the acts that are regarded as offences to society and it consists of the penal system. The penal system is comprised of sets of punishments and sentences pertaining to a specific crime. It includes the maximum number of years a lawbreaker can be sentenced to, depending on the type of crime and its severity. (Cavadino) The penal system serves as a guide for judges when they make their final decisions. Criminal law including the penal system is within federal jurisdiction for both countries with the only difference being that, in the USA individual states are allowed to adapt the criminal code in their own way and sentence offenders in their prospective as long it is within the guidelines of the criminal code. On the contrary, in Canada individual provinces and territories do not have the jurisdiction to punish criminals as they please; for example, in Canada the death penalty is prohibited in all parts of the country whereas in the states, capital punishment is practiced by only select states. The death penalty or capital punishment is the ultimate sentence a judge can order. It's the execution of a convicted criminal either through lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging or by a firing squad only if requested by the inmate. (Bedau) In Canada during the period where capital punishment was in the criminal code, only hanging was ever utilized to carry out the execution. During the late 1800's capital punishment was popular in Canada and widely used as a penalty for murder and for number of less serious offences including administering poison, buggery with man or beast and injuring others during robbery. (Chandler) The early 1900's was a turning point for the death penalty in Canada; capital punishment began losing momentum and was used only as sentence for murder, rape and treason. Finally, on July 14th 1976, after a heart moving historical speech by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, capital punishment was voted of the criminal code. (Campbell) Parliament came to its senses and realized how wrongful capital punishment really was thus replacing it with a life sentence, with an eligibility of parole after 25 years. Unlike the life sentence, the death penalty is not reversible. Once a person has been executed, there is no bringing them back consequently if it's later proved that the person actually did not commit the crime, an innocent person has been murdered. This is the vary thing the death penalty is...
References: Dickson, Liepner et al. 1996. Understanding the Law. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited.
Cavadino, Dignan. 2002. The Penal System: An Introduction. New York: SAGE Publications.
Chandler. 1976. Capital Punishment in Canada. New York: Mcgill Queens Univ Pr.
Bedau, Cassell. 2003. Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? New York: Oxford University Press
Statistics Canada. 2005 Crime statistics Ottawa: http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050721/d050721a.htm
CBC Canada. 2001.
Capital Punishment in Canada: 25 years after the vote
Ramsland. 2002. The Criminal Mind. New York: Writer 's Digest Books.
Tan. 2005. Should the criminal justice system focus more on rehabilitation than retribution? Singapore: http://www.debatabase.org/details.asp?topicID=307
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