Victim or Villain: A Review of Wrongful Convictions in Canada

Author: Nicole Porter, N.A. PORTER & ASSOCIATES

It is beyond unfortunate that wrongful convictions are still happening across the country and throughout the world. The unearthing of wrongly convicted offenders has been arguably (and understandably) the dominant legal development in our country, over the past half-century. A nationwide network of industry experts, including academics, lawyers, journalists and legal or non-profit organizations will agree and have endlessly pursued cases of potential wrongful conviction, battling courts, our criminal justice system and lobbying to win the release of offenders who have, in some cases spent decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit.

Canadians need to realize the notion that serious miscarriages of justice are taking place all over the country. This essentially means that dozens, perhaps hundreds (or more) innocent people could be languishing behind bars for something they didn’t even do. Past wrongful conviction cases need to remain at the forefront of our attention, so these serious doubts about reliability of evidence and trial fairness, for example, can be monitored. General awareness and lessons learned from past wrongful conviction cases, can hopefully help prevent future injustices.

Canada is also one of only a small number of countries that has methodically probed the nature of some of these miscarriages through what is known as a public inquiry process. Guy Paul Morin, Thomas Sophonow, Ronald Dalton and David Milgaard all had such inquiries, yielding hundreds of recommendations aimed to reform our CJS. Namely, to reform police, prosecutorial and government procedures to ensure future wrongful convictions are avoided.

Although Canada has made significant efforts, as a country we are still criticized for administrative and legal hurdles that lie in the path of those seeking exoneration.

With an ongoing commitment to covering tough, relevant news stories with fair and responsible reporting, CTV’s W5 platform has become involved, utilizing investigative journalism. Hosted by CTV News, W5 remains the most popular documentary program in the Nation, winning several awards for Broadcast Journalism.

W5’s Sandie Rinaldo spoke to Glen Assoun, a Canadian who spent almost 17 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. Glen spoke to W5 and outlined the harsh conditions and daily abuse he suffered while in prison but he never lost hope that the truth would come out and he’d be found innocent.

Watch full W5 Documentary here: