Wrongful Convictions.

11/03/2009 22:02


Over the years, there have been different cases of wrongful convictions, some of which have resulted in executions, while other victims of wrongful convictions have lost huge chunks of their lives serving prison sentences. In most cases where the court got it wrong, it was often because they convicted the accused based on the word of a given expert, rather than verifying/evaluating the evidence before them.

In Canada, such many cases have risen over the last few years. In 1970, David Milgaard was found guilty for the murder of a nurse in Saskatchewan, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 23 years in jail, and was later cleared in 1992. In 1991, James Driskell was found guilty for the murder of Perry Harder in Winnipeg, but results from forensic science later stated that none of the hairs found belonged to James. He was released on bail in November 2003. In 1994 William Mullins was found guilty for the rape and murder of his 4 year old niece. In later events, it was determined that William was in fact innocent, and the evidence provided by Charles Smith- a pathologist was false. William was release on bail in 2005.

Charles Smith has been accused of giving false testimony in court in 20 other cases. He however hasn’t been arrested, or been legally punished for these crimes. Wrongful convictions are a violation of one's human rights. To be accused for a crime that you didn’t commit is bad enough, but to be arrested and locked up, based on the word of someone, without any profound evidence is outrageous. Error is to human, and sometimes experts do make mistakes about things. But to think that a trained pathologist would hide evidence, give false reports and lie in court is completely unacceptable. Many people have been punished for perjury over the years. Why should smith be an exception? Hiding significant evidence is obstruction of justice, why should he be an exception? Why should innocent people have to suffer and pay for a crime they didn’t commit?

Do you think that punishing those responsible for wrongful convictions would reduce miscarriages of justice? And how should such persons be punished? Would a jail sentence be in order? Or should they simply lose their licence to practise whatever it is they do?

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