This past week, wrongfully convicted Quebec man Rejean Hinse received $13.1 million from Canadian federal and provincial governments as compensation for five years spent in prison for robbery in the 1960s. Hinse received the largest settlement currently on record, but monetary awards of this magnitude are not uncommon in Canada. Global Montreal recently reported on some other wrongful conviction cases:
-Donald Marshall was wrongfully convicted of the 1971 stabbing death of Sandy Seale, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was imprisoned until 1989 and received $1.5 million as compensation after a royal investigative commission found that “the criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall Jr. at virtually every turn.”
-In 1994, William Mullins-Johnson was convicted of the rape and murder of his 4-year-old niece, ultimately serving twelve years in prison before pathologists found that the girl had actually died of natural causes. Mullins-Johnson received $4.25 million this past October.
– 14-year-old Vancouver student Stephen Truscott was the last person seen with 12-year-old Lynn Harper before she turned up murdered in Clinton, Ontario in 1959. Originally sentenced to death and then paroled in 1969, Truscott had to wait until 2007 for the Ontario Court of Appeal to unanimously overturn his conviction. He received $6.5 million in compensation the following year.
– David Milgaard spent over two and a half decades in prison before DNA cleared him of the 1969 rape and murder of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. Other suspects had been identified as early as 1980, but these leads were never pursued. Milgaard was awarded $10 million by the Saskatchewan government in 1999.
These cases were mishandled in a variety of ways, and no country’s legal system is perfect, but Canada has at least given the wrongfully convicted financial awards that closer approximate the hardship that they’ve had to endure. As we’ve seen in so many cases recently, US exonerees have to fight for years to receive sums that are insulting when compared to time served in prison, and in many cases receive nothing at all. While money can never make up for years of one’s freedom that were unjustly taken away, it certainly helps make it easier to rebuild a life that has been derailed by an undeserved prison sentence.
Global Montreal – Wrongfully Convicted
Montreal Gazette via Yahoo! Canada – 50 years after arrest, Rejean Hinse awarded $13.1 million for wrongful conviction
The Innocence Project – Fix the System: Priority Issues: Exoneree Compensation