A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 August 2007

Truscott Vindicated

I remember the first Maclean's magazine article I ever read. Back before it became the flag-rag for the radical right in Canada, when it was something reputable and journalistic.

I believe one of the feature articles from that first issue was a two-page spread inviting kids from all over Canada to contribute verses for the book Alligator Pie, new-released that year. But for once, that wasn't my central concern.

The cover picture was a drawing of a kid on a country road, leaning against a bicycle. And I suppose it was that picture that got me to read the headline, whatever it was. But the sub-head read: New evidence suggesting that Stephen Truscott did not rape and murder Lynn Harper.

That was 1976. Lynn Harper, 12, had been raped and strangled in 1959. In the intervening 17 years Stephen Truscott had been sentenced to death (at the age of 14), had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and finally been released.

However, he had never been cleared of the murder. He was released on points of procedure, and because of tampered or incorrect witness reports and shoddy detective work by police.

But until yesterday he was still a former convicted murderer. Finally the Supreme Court of Canada vindicated him.

And it kept running through my mind that had someone else (Dubya, for example) been in charge of Ontario's death row in 1960, Stephen Truscott would have been dead and in the ground for 48 years.

There is no room for the death penalty in a just society. Cases like this aren't the example ... every case where there's the slightest smidgen of doubt, and someone still dies for it, is the example. Cases like Stephen Truscott's just hammer the point home.


At 3:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, although there are clear cases where the death penalty is warranted. I feel that a life sentence should be exactly that - no parole - period. So cases like Truscott's can eventually be cleared without the possibility of murdering an innocent person. If a reasonable doubt is raised on appeal then of course parole would be an option, but not for any other reason.


At 3:31 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

In fact, in poll after poll--even in the US, people choose "Life-means-life" over the death penalty.

At 4:02 p.m., Blogger mur said...

I can understand people's revenge factor coming into play when particularly heinous crimes are committed and an 'eye for an eye' seems the simplest solution. But as is demonstrated here and in other cases, there is rarely 100% certainty of guilt and I am of the opinion that nobody has the right to take another life even when it is state sanctioned. It does nothing to advance our development as a society ever.

At 8:34 a.m., Anonymous archie FCD said...

An execution is simply the State murdering a human being. Unfortunately the lynch mentality is still too close to the surface in most societies.

At 1:47 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

".... There is no room for the death penalty in a just society ..."

But there is clearly room in our "Just" Society for the Murder of so many Innocent Folk - children and young women alike

Harrumph, harrumph

So MUR thinks no-one (even the state) has the right to take a life

How cosy .... at least for Murderers

I accept that the Death Penalty will not deter every Murderer

... and let us not mis-categorize those 9/11 suicide murderers who so mercilessly & cold-heartedly flew those Planes into the Twin Towers as anything other than indiscriminate Mass Murderers & deliberate Sadists

... but Over the last 40+ years, the absence of Capital Punishment in the UK has witnessed (despite all the life-saving improvements in Hospitals) a massive increase in the numbers of UK Murders which have NOT been deterred by the prospective punishments

eg the ex-Lord Chief (in)Justice Woolf couldn't free the Worthless Louts who tortured little 3-year old Jamie Bolger to death soon enough, after only (was it) 7 years

Supporters of the Abolition of the Capital Punishment from an (apparent) position of "moral" superiority need to reflect on their own moral responsibility for the Murders, which would have been deterred if the Murderers (rather than their Victims) had been facing the Death Penalty

... and what about the cases where there is NO doubt about Guilt

and DAMN the bizarre & fatuous US Gun Laws, which afford a daily US Slaughter which makes the casualties in Afghanistan (and possibly Iraq) pale into relative insignificance

and Confound my Spell-checker, which (when it deigns to work) insists on being a Yankee


Yr obedt servt etc

G Eagle

At 11:49 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Metro-Boy!

How's it goin', man?

I say kill 'em all. Start with all the lowlifes on CNN and work up.

By the way, who do you think is more creepier - that Idaho senator that got pinched or the cop who was sitting on the crapper for 8 hours at a crack [sic} waiting for perverts?

Yours in blogdom,


At 4:13 p.m., Blogger Lori said...

From the rather excellent website

"The homicide rate in those states with the death penalty is almost double the rate in states without the death penalty. It is not known whether this is due to:
*People in high-homicide states demanding the death penalty as a perceived deterrent, or
*Use of the death penalty by the state cheapens the value of life, and causes a higher homicide rate, or
*Some other reason."

At the same time, many who are given the death penalty in the United States are poor, and can't afford anything but a court-appointed lawyer.

And don't forget:
"From 1995 to 2000, federal prosecutors sought the death penalty for 183 defendants; 74% were minorities.
Of the 21 people on federal death row as of 2001-JUN, 81% were black or Hispanic." (from

If it could be proved that those on death row were truly guilty, and not just unlucky, poor, non-white or stupid...

Then maybe I could be one step closer to believing that state-sanctioned killing was the least bit justified. Until then...

At 3:46 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

Not in my name; simple as that. It may well be crueller to keep them locked up, but I'm fine with that; it's quite a lot less irrevocable. I will neither kill nor have killing performed on my behalf.

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