"Capital Punishment is the most premeditated of murders." -Albert Camus
No country has a perfect law system. There has been times where a person who is innocent is put in prison or even killed for a crime they did not commit. We are all human, hopefully, and we know from history that humans make mistakes. There have been moments in Canada's history where we have made mistakes, for example the racial, physical and mental abuse against Aboriginals in Canada since the first settlers came. For Canadian law during the 1900's and more specifically the death penalty, a mistake means the wrongful execution of an innocent person while the guilty is free to walk amongst society. These wrongful convictions not only mean that a person who abided by the laws of our country is now dead, but it also means that there has been wasted time and money on case which could have been put to better use. Some specific examples of wrongful convictions in Canada are the cases of David Milgaard and Donald Marshall.
In January 1969, a 17 year old Milgaard was travelling across the country with some of his buddies . Gail Miller, the victim, was a young assistant nurse who was living in Saskatoon at the time. Gail Miller woke up on an early morning to walk over to her bus stop in order to go to work, but she was attacked, stabbed to death and then raped in an alleyway across from her bus stop. At the time of the murder and rape of Miller, Milgaard and his friends Ron Wilson and Nichol John were passing through the town to meet up with their friend Albert Cadrain. The police found Miller's body approximately two hours after the incident and were looking for suspects. With the thought that he was going to get money in exchange for information, Cadrain told Saskatoon police a month after the murder that he found blood on Milgaard's clothing. Milgaard was charged with the rape and murder of Miller in mid 1969. During the trial Wilson and John were sent to testify against Milgaard. When they were both questioned by the police shortly after the murder they told them they were with Milgaard the whole time, but during the trial they changed their story to make it seem like Milgaard was indeed the murderer. With the false witness reports told by his "friends" Milgaard was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Over the years Milgaard gave up opportunities for parole and refused to plead guilty. His mother, Joyce, spent nearly 23 years trying to clear her son's name of a crime he did not commit. Finally, in 1992, Milgaard was exonerated from the crime because of insufficient evidence and was compensated $10 million dollars from the Saskatchewan government. Meanwhile, the man who should've been sent to prison for the rape and murder of Miller was Larry Fisher. Fisher was questioned by police, but he was free to go because they thought he was just a regular man who rode the same bus as Miller. Later on Fisher was caught and arrested several times for raping and assaulting women in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Donald Marshall was 17 years old when he was accused of the murder of his acquaintance Sandford "Sandy" Seale in 1971. They were both walking around a park late at night in Sydney, Nova Scotia, when Roy Ebsary, a man they met at the park, started an altercation with Seale. Ebsary, who is well known for liking knives, pulled one out and stabbed Seale multiple times. Seale was transported to the nearby hospital, but later succumbed to his injuries and passed away. The police started to investigate the murder and immediately called Marshall as a suspect. The police knew Marshall well because he was fighting racism against aboriginals since the age of 6 and has faced the law many times. Ebsary was also questioned by police, but lied about his involvement with the two boys which lead to Marshall being the prime suspect. Marshall went through a very fast trial and was convicted of the murder of Sandy Seale. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. After 11 years of sitting in prison for a crime he did not commit, Marshall was acquitted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 1983 because some witnesses said that they saw another man stab Seale. Ebsary was later convicted of manslaughter and only spent 1 year in prison after a reduction of his sentence. Even though he was cleared of murder, Marshall faced abuse after his acquittal from the judges, police, lawyers and bureaucrats The police that arrested Marshall were found not responsible for anything that happened and the judges also believed that Marshall had lied to the police about why him and Seale were meeting up. Marshall was only given $700,000 in compensation after almost 20 years of ordeals and his life was never given back to him. The Criminal justice system proved to have failed Marshall.
From the examples of David Milgaard and Donald Marshall, we can see that a mistake in the law system can happen and innocent people are most likely in prison today. If capital punishment was still being used in 2014, even with out advanced technology and how much we have improved since the 1980's, possibly hundreds of innocent men and women would be put to death for a crime they did not commit and miss out on the joys of life that we have forbidden them to have.
When Canada still had capital punishment, all of our executions were carried out by hanging. Hanging is the suspension of a person by the neck from a gallows, gibbet, etc, until death. This method was proven to be quite difficult because the executors would have to be very precise on how long the rope should be. If the rope is found to be too long, then the prisoner would be decapitated, if too short then the death of the prisoner would take almost an hour while they suffer. We have seen in the United States that they use many different methods to execute their prisoners. Over the years they have used to methods of electrocution in a chair, lethal injection, fire squad and gas chambers; all states who still have capital punishment use lethal injection as their primary choice. With these executions, there has also been cases where they have had problems. For instance, April 29, 2014, in Oklahoma, Clayton D Lockett was supposed to be executed by lethal injection. The prison was going to be using a new drug in order to make the prisoner go unconscious then insert the killer injection which, if the prisoner was awake, going to be excruciatingly painful. After the inserted the lethal injection, they found out that Lockett was not unconscious because he was groaning and twitching on the table. The executors and staff in the room closed all the window blinds and made the media leave the room so that they wouldn't see what was happening. Lockett died 43 minutes after the initial injection because of a heart attack. This case is a prime example of what could happen to prisoners in Canada if the government ever decides to bring it back. Even though these people have committed heinous crimes that put them on the table in the first place, it is inhumane to kill another person out of vengeance.
Cost and Time
The legal process of getting someone executed takes many years and also a lot of money that could be put to better use. Many people think that the cost of life imprisonment is a lot more expensive than capital punishment because of finding spaces in prison, getting personal necessities, etc, but that is not true. Since there are many appeals in the process of getting someone sentenced of death, it costs a lot of money to get judges, lawyers, etc and it also takes many years. We must not look back at the cases like Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin because we, as a society, have grown technologically and have many tools to find out who committed a crime. Such technology is that of DNA process, cameras, witnesses, other evidence that could be linked to the crime, etc. With all this technology we should be absolutely sure that the person we are putting to death is the guilty one. If it turns out to be someone who is innocent, examples like David Milgaard and Donald Marshall, then we have wasted millions of dollars on trials that were useless. In the United States, the cost of having somebody put to death for their crimes tends to cost the government $456,000 compared to a trial with same crime, but no death penalty, having a cost of $45,000. The difference between a case without the death penalty and a case with the death penalty is incredible as seen through the amount of money spent. The money that Canada saves without having capital punishment can put to good use in the country.
Even though one of the most important sayings from the Ten Commandments is "Thou shall not kill", it is found that in many religions, it is also believed that a person should not kill another out of revenge. For example, in the Dhammapada, a major Buddhist text, it says "everyone fears punishment, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill. Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill." This quote states that it is not the answer to kill someone for their crime. Many christians also believe that by executing someone, you are killing them before their right time, therefore you are trying to play god. They believe that God puts people on this Earth for a reason, and by taking away someone's life prematurely, God is not happy. Religion is also a big factor on the decision to bring back capital punishment. If many people are opposed to it because of their beliefs, then that's saying the government doesn't respect it's civilians.
New Laws in order to Rehabilitate
Since Canada is a country who does not have capital punishment, the government has figured out a way to rehabilitate and bring the convicted criminals back into working society. One way the government has tried to help is if the prisoner has been found to be mentally ill then they have to go to a mental institution until they get better. If they are not found to be mentally ill, then the convicted will be sentenced and sent to prison. The Canadian government thought that if rehabilitation was going to be successful, then they would have to give a sense of hope to some of the prisoners, especially the ones sentenced to life, that they would get released eventually. This thought then led to section 745.6, also known as the Faint-Hope Clause. The Faint-Hope Clause is the chance for convicted murderers to apply for a reduction in the number of years before being able to apply for parole. This is a very strict process that goes on in prison, because in order to apply for a reduction in the number of years, then they have to rely on the guards and officers of their prison to help them. It is only through recommendation and 15 years in prison that they are able to apply for the Faint-Hope Clause.