June 22nd, 2024

Researchers hope wrongfully convicted database will lead to reforms, more releases

By The Canadian Press on February 20, 2023.

Witness box and Judges's bench at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. A registry of wrongful conviction cases in Canada is launching for the first time, showing 83 cases where people had their convictions overturned. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

OTTAWA – A new registry identifying a lengthy list of wrongful conviction cases is launching this week with the intention to draw more attention to the problem.

The registry was developed by staff and students at the University of Toronto law school.

It is starting with 83 cases of people whose convictions were overturned.

It comes days after Justice Minister David Lametti introduced legislation to create a new federal commission to review potential cases of wrongful conviction in part because so many of the current cases being reviewed don’t reflect the makeup of Canada’s prison population.

Indigenous offenders are overrepresented in Canadian prisons, but the wrongful conviction data shows only 16 of the 83 cases involved Indigenous people.

Lawyer and database project co-founder Amanda Carling says legal reforms in Canada have recognized too many Indigenous people are in prison, but there has never been an institutionalized recognition many of them shouldn’t be behind bars in the first place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.

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