Injustices in the Canadian Law System

Topics: Capital punishment, Miscarriage of justice, Crime Pages: 5 (1556 words) Published: January 16, 2008
"There is no amount of money they could give me to replace twenty years of my life... I missed my kids' childhoods. I always wanted to be a father to them. They can't give that back. I missed all of that." — Exoneree Calvin Willis

The enforcement of law and justice has evolved through time, yet, despite progress in the legal system; it is still impossible to safeguard every citizen from experiencing injustice and inequality. A person who is wrongfully convicted looses a good name, a reputation, their family, and career, but those innocent may also suffer a life sentence of 'prison rape and depression' (Paul Craig Roberts "the independent review"). Hundreds of men and women are released from prison after their initial conviction of a crime he/she had not committed- individuals are wrongfully convicted every year because of the flaws in the legal system, such as: mistaken eyewitness identifications, snitches, false confession, bad lawyering, and DNA.

Erroneous eyewitness identification and testimony may have been initially offered in good faith, but ultimately results in 25.2% of the 111 American death row exonerations since the 1970s (when capital punishment resumed). The American justice system is similar to the Canadian one, and so, it can be inferred that erroneous eyewitness identification is no doubt one of the greatest causes of wrongful convictions in the Canadian justice system. Of the large portion of cases that use eyewitness identifications, 45% of this group use a photo-line up as a pre-trial I.D. procedure. These identifications can unintentionally distract the police from the true culprit and mislead witnesses. In a photo line-up, the perpetrator is not necessarily present, but over two-thirds of the eyewitnesses have identified a suspect who he/she 'believes' to have 'resembled' the culprit.

Kevin Green had a rocky relationship with his wife, Diane, and when she was brutally assaulted by a serial rapist, known as the "Bedroom Basher," Green was accused of the crime. Based on Diane's testimony, Green was convicted served sixteen years in California prisons before DNA evidence exonerated him. In this case, Green's own wife failed to correctly identify the culprit.

Diane received extensive brain damage and amnesia from the assault, and testified against her husband. Diane was pregnant and the assault may have led to the fetus to be stillborn. I believe that this case was ruled with a bias towards women because Kevin was convicted based on Diane's testimony, though DNA testing technology was available.

In June of 2000, the Centre on Wrongful Convictions surveyed 67 different cases in both Canada and the United states. They found that of the 67 DNA exonerations, 51 of the convictions - 76.1% - had incorporated eyewitness identification testimony. It was shocking to find that the average time between the arrest and the exoneration of the defendant in the eyewitness cases was 95 months (just a little less than 8 years).

The history of the ‘snitch' system dates back to old England, where snitches were ubiquitous and widespread, usually because of the monetary rewards, which followed their testimonies. Modern snitches or "informants" give testimonies in return for ‘deals', special treatment, or the dropping of charges in the majority of cases. This ‘system' produced a long line of betrayal and is the leading cause for wrongful convictions in capital cases (nearly 45.9% in the U.S.- of the 111 death row exonerations), like in the case of Joseph Green Brown who was sentenced to death in 1974 for the rape and murder of the owner of a small shop in Tampa, Florida. The prosecution rested primarily on the testimony of a snitch who claimed to have committed an unrelated robbery with Brown and who testified in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

When the witness was asked if he had been promised anything in return for his...
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