Convictions, Disclosure, Canada
It is common knowledge that the criminal justice system is fallible and prone to human error. The most egregious of such errors is the conviction of an innocent person. While wrongful convictions have been acknowledged in Canada in the last few decades, they are mostly regarded as rare and extraordinary events.16 In response to this perception, experts have identified the challenge of determining the number of wrongful convictions and their exact causes.17 A 2019 study estimates that at least 85 people have been exonerated in Canada.18 The recent advent of the Canadian Registry of Wrongful Convictions creates a centralized location for documenting identified wrongful convictions in Canada.19 In the few months it has been operating, the overall number has steadily increased. In the US, wrongful conviction scholars have estimated that wrongful convictions may be as high as 1% of all convictions.20 Even if the number in Canada is half of that estimate, with over 140,000 convictions in Canadian criminal courts in 2019-2020 alone,21 one can estimate that only a tiny fraction of wrongful convictions have been identified in Canada. If the error rate for wrongful convictions was an extremely low (such as, 0.05%), this would still result in approximately 70 miscarriages of justice per year.
Alexandra Ballantyne & Tamara Levy, K.C., "Post-Conviction Disclosure in the Canadian Context" (January 9, 2024) UBC Innocence Project.