2 wrongs never make a right!Steven Truscott (Exoneree)
We fail ourselves if the wrong person is in jail. Police, prosecutors and judges are society’s agents: what they do in our name, rightly or wrongly, measures us as a people. One wrongful conviction would be too many if you were the one: imagine for a moment that it’s you locked behind bars, innocent.Bill Rowlings OAM, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia
There is arguably no more well-known case of a miscarriage of justice, nationally or worldwide, than that of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and John Artis. On behalf of all of us who worked tirelessly to exonerate Rubin and John, and for all those who continue to work to reverse wrongful convictions, I would like to applaud AIDWYC and all the groups involved in establishing “Wrongful Conviction Day” for bringing attention to those who have been exonerated and all those who still await justice from behind prison walls.Fred W. Hogan, Former New Jersey Public Defender Investigator
On a daily basis, wrongly accused and their families, friends and supporters are reminded that life and freedom are to be cherished. Charges and arrests that can take only moments to appear can take a lifetime to disprove. For the fortunate few that have not only the courage but the perseverance to see these cases through, they are to remember that even in a country where we are guaranteed our legal rights, the justice system is made of individuals just like you and me and “to err is always human.”Ryan Truscott, son of Steven Truscott
This day is important because it helps inform the public about people who were wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit, best practices for law enforcement officials and attorneys, and the necessity to reform the procedures that produce such unjust results.While we work year round to help the innocent, it is important to have a day to remind the wrongly convicted that they are always on our minds and in our hearts.Innocence Project Minnesota
When the wrong person is sent to prison, not only are they and their family sent, but society is at risk from the real perpetrator being left free to strike again, as happened in my case.Jeff Deskovic, The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice
Pro Bono Students Canada is proud to be a partner of AIDWYC and a supporter of Wrongful Conviction Day. It is critical that law students understand the justice system is fallible and innocent people can be convicted for crimes they did not commit. We look forward to continuing to work alongside AIDWYC to educate Canadian law students about this tragic reality, and to engage them in the important work of AIDWYC.Pro Bono Students Canada
While The Bridge admittedly works with men who have usually been rightfully convicted we also fight the injustice of a system that dehumanizes all of us including; prisoners, volunteers, sometimes staff and the community at large. The greatest injustice remains the incarceration of the wrongfully convicted and so we support this important day.Garry Glowacki, The Bridge
Wrongful Conviction Day is a way to honor the tremendous sacrifice made by the many men and women who have been wrongly convicted. To show our appreciation to these brave individuals, we will be encouraging our supporters to write to a recent exoneree and thank him or her for standing up to injustice.New York Innocence Project
My own wrongful conviction in 1994 has affected 20 years of my life so far. Many of my hardships occurred after being released in 2005 and cleared in 2007; and in ways I am only now becoming aware in 2014. Wrongful Conviction Day is important because we cannot allow these experiences to fade into history. If we forget, we risk allowing Wrongful Convictions in all its forms. A Wrongful Conviction in any form destroys lives, families, relationships, and personal growth.William Mullins Johnson
Taken September 2013 in Ottawa; an hour before I spoke to Stephen Bindman’s law class on Wrongful Convictions at the University of Ottawa.
No justice system is perfect and all too often we see people convicted and sentenced for crimes they did not commit. Wrongful Conviction Day focuses our attention as a nation and as individuals on the need to safeguard against wrongful convictions, on the need to ensure processes are in place to identify the wrongfully convicted, and on the need to fairly compensate victims of wrongful conviction for all that they have endured.Greg Rodin, Calgary
Being involved with AIDWYC for the past eight years has been an honour and has also made me aware of the life-long impact on the wrongly convicted and their families. Growing up hearing about Wilbert Coffin from my father (a cousin of Wilbert’s), I felt compelled and inspired to write a song telling his story. A message to all Canadians: this can and does happen in our country. Let’s hope October 2nd is the catalyst for a new and increased awareness of the wrongly convicted and of the wonderful and important work that AIDWYC does on their behalf.Dave Moran, singer-songwriter
We support Wrongful Conviction Day because both of us were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. It robbed us of years of our lives, as well as the endless possibilities that will never happen, and caused our families unimaginable heartache and harm – destroying some relationships and preventing others from ever coming to be. It is human nature to make mistakes. When it comes to wrongful convictions, we can put into place sufficient checks and balances to prevent, and afterwards to correct, the majority. But we can never be perfect. Therefore, constant vigilance and integrity must be exercised. We must always question and be open to questions. The society we get is the society we make.Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle (Exonerees who survived death row; Sunny in California for 18 years and Peter in Ireland for 18 years)
In the course of writing my book, “Innocence on Trial: The Framing of Ivan Henry”, I learned much about the fallibility of our criminal justice system–in particular, in the area of those claiming “actual innocence.” There is room for improvement on every level.
At the pre-conviction stage, police must resist the urge to rush to judgment; prosecutors must seek a fair outcome, not a “win”; and judges must consider the appointment of amicus curiae in the face of self-represented accused.
At the post-conviction stage, our correctional system should look for ways to identify potentially “innocent” inmates, and to direct them to innocence projects, pro bono lawyers, etc; similarly, the parole system should not punish those who refuse to acknowledge guilt on the basis that they are factually innocent.
And, finally, the system should support wrongly convicted persons regarding their re-integration back into society. As it now stands, a guilty parolee is offered more support–e.g., halfway house, employment and financial assistance, group camaraderie–than they are.Joan McEwen, Vancouver lawyer and author
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales described the possibility of a person being wrongfully convicted as a ‘catastrophic failure’ of the legal system.” Nobody should ever stand idly by in the face of a catastrophe and do nothing about it. The correction of wrongful convictions should not be an adversarial process. Prosecutors, defence lawyers, forensic experts and judges should all work collaboratively to ensure that errors are corrected as speedily as possible.Bob Moles, who has almost single-handedly been responsible for the establishment of an independent review process in South Australia - and publishes the extraordinary criminal justice website ``Networked knowledge``
I hope that Wrongful Conviction Day will raise awareness about the growing number of wrongful convictions being identified in Canada and worldwide. There is no question that there are innocent people who are still incarcerated in this country, and other innocent people who are no longer in prison but who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in the past. While we have an excellent criminal justice system in Canada, it is not foolproof. It is based on testimony, analyses and opinion offered by individuals who are, for the most part, trying to help bring a just result. However, our system is subject to human error and people do make mistakes. Wrongful Conviction Day will bring recognition to mistakes that have been made in the past. Once made, these mistakes can never be truly compensated–there is no price for the loss of one’s liberty. But Wrongful Conviction Day will remind us of the need to ensure that mistakes are identified and corrected and the need to provide a model system of conviction review to carry out those tasks.Tamara Levy, director of the University of British Columbia Innocence Project
CCJA seeks to improve justice and the safety of Canadian communities. We contribute to an effective criminal justice system by supporting research and reasoned evidence-based practices. In this respect, we strive to enhance measures that bring about justice for all people involved in a criminal event.
We support Wrongful Conviction Day and hope that this day will sensitize the community to the tragic consequences when innocent citizens are convicted of a crime they did not commit.Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) / Association canadienne de justice pénale (ACJP)
Wrongful Conviction Day is an incredible way to raising awareness in a more global way. This is long overdue and by acknowledging wrongful convictions in this way, means that all people can learn from these tragedies and it gives the wrongly convicted hope.Maria Shepherd
As a researcher and a professor at the Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, I support AIDWYC’s initiative to nationally recognize October 2nd as Wrongful Conviction Day. I believe it is imperative to increase our students’ awareness of this phenomenon, representing the most egregious of human rights violations, whereby individuals lose their liberty, their dignity and many years of their lives when charged and convicted of crimes for which they are innocent. Innocence Ottawa, an innocence project based out of the department, actively attempts to address this problem by assisting wrongly convicted Canadians in having their convictions reviewed. We will be recognizing Wrongful Conviction Day this year by holding a special lecture with invited guests, open to the university that will explore some of the factors that contribute to wrongful convictions.Professor Kathryn Campbell, Director of Innocence Ottawa
Wrongful convictions can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone. The list of those who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit has grown considerably over the past few years and Wrongful Conviction Day not only acknowledges those who have suffered as a result of these injustices but also recognizes the role that individuals and organizations like AIDWYC have played in bringing these injustices to light.Rob Baltovich
Imagine being charged with a crime for something you didn’t do. Imagine being thrown into jail, alone and scared and seemingly defenseless. Imagine the injustice of being one of the wrongfully convicted. This isn’t a movie plot based on a Kafka novel. This is the fate of some people at the hands of some other people.
The work of AIDWYC and the plight of the wrongly convicted are connected. The lives of the wrongly convicted are in the hands of AIDWYC. The work of AIDWYC is invaluable to a Just Society. In a JUST SOCIETY, people strive to live with hope, dignity and courage. That is what the wrongfully convicted deserve and that is how society can rid itself of the threat to justice everywhere.Honey Novick, Owner of Creative Vocalization Studio and 2014 recipient of the Empowered Poet Award received from the International World Society of Poets in the name of peace. 2010 Bobbi Nah`wegahbow Memorial Award Winner
Personally, I found when all else was taken from me I learned to appreciate and trust my own sense of self-worth. I was truly the only person who knew, with absolute certainty, I was innocent.
I remain extremely grateful to my friends and family members who believed in my innocence and worked tirelessly to help me prove it. Yet I took most solace from the sure and certain knowledge of my innocence that I alone possessed – the truth is a powerful companion in times of darkness.
Simply put, wrong is wrong. We all have an obligation to right the wrongs which come to our attention and do what we can to prevent (or at least correct, when they occur) future wrongful convictions which serve to weaken our criminal justice system and lower our collective faith in fundamental truth and justice.Ron Dalton (Exoneree)
We take our clients very serious, even if all odds are against them.
To quote one of our clients who broke down in tears upon his final release after a proven miscarriage of justice:
“Not so much because I got out of prison, but because I was finally believed.”Knoops’ Advocaten
If I have learned anything from our battle, is that justice in the courts isn’t guaranteed. It is something that must be fought for and won.
That is why worldwide an independent board of review is a necessity!Joyce Milgaard (Mother and Chamption Advocate of Exoneree David Milgaard)
Those who have felt directly the sting of injustice and those have worked to prevent the infliction of that pain and to relieve it know that it is a task that never ends for it is a far from perfect world. But I like to think that from time to time, those that do this work strike a blow for justice that shatters some very hard hearts and makes not a perfect world but a better one and that is a thing very much worth making one’s life’s work.Dale Jones, former Director of Capital (Death Penalty) Litigation, State of New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (1984-2002)
As Chief Justice McLaughlin noted in R v Hill, “even one wrongful conviction is too many, and Canada has had more than one.”
We can do better. We will do better.Timothy E. Moore, PhD, C Psych. Professor & Chair Department of Psychology. Glendon College, York University
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS has agreed to partner with Toronto-based ASSOCIATION IN DEFENCE OF THE WRONGLY CONVICTED in establishing WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY, to be observed annually on October 2. Win Wahrer, friend of HFP and Director of Client services for AIDWYC, said the idea was to help enlighten the public as to the consequences of wrongful convictions. Doug Tjapkes, President of HFP, agreed with the goal of this partnership: to make as much impact as possible in our common cause of preventing and remedying wrongful convictions. HFP joins with other sponsoring agencies in hoping that this annual focus will lead to meaningful discussion and reforms resulting in a reduction of these shameful statistics.Doug Tjpakes
The frequency of wrongful conviction in Canada is much greater than the few cases that receive media attention would suggest. Indeed, prevalence estimates suggest that hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadians every year are convicted of crimes they did not commit. The consequences are vast: innocent people are unjustly incarcerated, stripped of their dignity, and degraded on a daily basis; families are torn apart; reputations are ruined; and public confidence in criminal justice personnel and the system as a whole dwindles. Despite this, many law enforcement officials and prosecutors continue to pursue convictions at all costs, and politicians remain reluctant to introduce legislation to improve the likelihood that miscarriages of justice will be identified and rectified. Unlike the UK and most states in the US, Canada still doesn’t have a statute-based compensation scheme to provide redress to the wrongly convicted! Wrongful Conviction Day is a brilliant way to increase public awareness of these issues and to recognize those who have been unjustly convicted.Jim Bell, Researcher and Advocate for the Wrongly Convicted
Let us remember those who have been wrongfully convicted and who sit in the darkened world of prisons as if we were one of them. Then let us help them to maintain their dignity, as they work towards proving their innocence.Rev. Sharon Dunlop
Wrongful convictions are just as heinous a crime as premeditated murder is.
The court of public opinion has a lion’s roar on issues of child abuse, domestic violence and animal cruelty, yet is silent and apathetic for an innocent person wrongfully convicted, robbed of their freedom and forced to endure incarceration for decades.
Devoid of any evidence or fact, authorities attempted to have me state that Rubin Carter was a murderer, to assist in convicting Rubin and sending him to the electric chair, for the promise that I would be released. In reality, it would have wrongfully convicted two innocent people and sent both of us to our deaths. I refused. Integrity is an innate, immeasurable, uncompromising quality.John Artis
Lawyers are implicated in wrongful convictions and they can also play an important role in uncovering, redressing, and preventing them. We want law students to be thinking about their responsibilities as members of the legal profession and the difference that they can make. We are delighted to be a part of Wrongful Conviction Day. Our focus on women and wrongful conviction this year highlights systemic problems in the criminal justice system and provides opportunities for advocacy and education.Debra Parkes, Associate Professor, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, Executive Director, Legal Research Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba
It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on politically – we can ALL AGREE wrongful convictions are just WRONG. They are not just. They are not fair. All wrongful convictions do is tear the heart and soul of our society. Longboarding for Peace proudly support AIDWYC and their fight for justice …it’s very the least we could do!Michael Brooke, Publisher of Concrete Magazine, Founder, Longboarding for Peace
Wrongful convictions can be eradicated. It is a complex issue, but the question of attitude is not: all criminal justice participants need to step up and rise to the challenge. Defence counsel must fearlessly defend, relentlessly advocate and leave no stone unturned. Prosecutors must always be open to being wrong about their cases, to looking for exculpatory evidence and must never shy away from any lead that may undermine the prosecution theory. Judges must always be even-handed, never letting the emotions and profile of a case skew their judgment.Sal Caramanna
We support AIDWYC and WCD; this is a powerful way to engage members of our communities who may not be aware of the overwhelming damage wrongful convictions inflict. All of us on the Free Nyki team thank you for increasing the awareness about these preventable tragedies.Christine Bivens, Free Nyki