Imagine being questioned by police with regard to a criminal act you did not commit. Shortly thereafter, you are arrested and the media informs the public that you have been charged with a heinous crime.
You use what little funds you possess to hire a lawyer in hopes that the nightmare is ended. You proceed to trial and rather than being exonerated, you are convicted.
The media informs the public of your conviction. As a result of the lengthy and costly trial, you’re broke and so are the family members and friends that provided you with financial support through your ordeal.
The nightmare further intensifies and authorities ship you off to prison, where you are to serve the entire length of your sentence for a heinous crime you did not commit.
Apparently this happens in Canada at a much higher rate than anyone would want to admit. This is where the AIDWYC comes into play, trying to right the wrongs of the past and release those innocent victims of the justice system, from the prisons that they currently languish in. The AIDWYC does rectify miscarriages of justice, but they need financial support to help those innocent people who cannot help themselves.
The source of the following information is from the Toronto Star.
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (“AIDWYC”) hopes to take on more cases now that its foundation has been granted charitable status by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Jonathan Freedman, President of the foundation set up in August, says it can now issue tax receipts for donations.
“It’s hoped more people will donate money so the association can accept more cases and deal with them more quickly to get innocent people out of prison” he said Monday.
The AIDWYC has assisted many innocent victims of the legal system, who, through no fault of their own, were charged, tried and convicted of crimes that did not commit.
Here are some of the miscarriages of justice that were rectified by the AIDWYC:
Guy Paul Morin was tried twice for the 1984 killing of nine-year-old Christine Jessop north of Toronto. He was acquitted in 1986 but convicted at retrial in 1992. He was exonerated in 1995 on the strength of DNA evidence. The AIDWYC was founded around this case.
Steven Truscott was sentenced at age 14 to hang for the 1959 murder of schoolmate Lynn Harper. His sentence was commuted to life, and Truscott served 10 years in prison before being paroled in 1969. The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned his conviction in 2007.
Williams Mullins-Johnson spent 12 years in prison. He was wrongfully convicted in 1994 of raping and murdering his four-year-old niece in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., based in part on evidence from disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith. His conviction was quashed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2007.
The following information is found on the The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) website.
AIDWYC was founded in 1993. It began with a small group of volunteers who organized the Justice for Guy Paul Morin Committee. After Morin’s release on bail in February 1993 pending his appeal, the Committee reconstituted itself as AIDWYC. In the years since, AIDWYC’s team of more than 50 volunteers have reviewed hundreds of cases, leading to the successful exoneration of 14 individuals
AIDWYC is a non-profit organization that has developed a strong reputation as an advocate for individuals who have been wrongly convicted.
AIDWYC’s primary mandate is to review and support claims of innocence in homicide cases.
However, because individual exonerations do not eliminate the conditions which foster these miscarriages of justice, AIDWYC is also dedicated to addressing the causes of wrongful conviction by:
- Making representations to governments on reforms to the legal system
- Raising public awareness about miscarriages of justice
- Participating in public inquiries related to wrongful convictions
- Intervening in legal cases which seek to rectify miscarriages of justice
There is no system in place at present in Canada for an independent review of claims of wrongful conviction. AIDWYC fills this gap, attracting some of the top legal experts in Ontario to identify these cases and, where warranted, prepare an application for ministerial review to the Criminal Conviction Review Group of the Federal Department of Justice, known as a Criminal Code Section 696.1 application.
AIDWYC’s office is located in Toronto and much of our work is done in Ontario. However, we have dedicated volunteers throughout Canada and in the United States. AIDWYC welcomes applications from across the country. AIDWYC is currently reviewing over sixty claims of innocence and actively pursuing more than 40 cases.
All Canadian citizens stand to benefit from AIDWYC’s efforts to free those who have been wrongly convicted and to reform the justice system wrongfutem of justice, but everyduce or prevent wrongful convictions in the future. Canada has an excellent sysand safeguard its integrity. Wrongful convictions are not easily corrected. The resistance to AIDWYC’s efforts is formidable and the correction of miscarriages of justice is always hard-won.
If you would like to support the charitable work of AIDWYC, please donate to the AIDWYC Foundation by clicking the ‘Donate’ button below. A charitable tax receipt will be issued to you for your donation at the end of the year.