The first Wrongful Conviction Day was held Oct. 2 by The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. Speaker Tim Moore, a cognitive psychologist and professor at York University, spoke about the Reid technique, an interrogative style used by the police that can lead to false confessions.
“Ironically, it’s the police that do most of the talking,” says Moore. “I say ironic, because in a genuinely investigative interrogation, you’re supposed to be getting your information from the suspect.”
Ron Dalton, president of AIDWYC, spoke about the high-profile wrongful conviction case of Romeo Phillion, who spent 31 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Mr. Phillion spent a decade longer in prison than any other of the wrongly convicted in Canada. It was another seven years after his release before Phillion’s name was finally cleared when the Crown withdrew the murder charge at his retrial in Ottawa.
“Rather than sit down and deal with him [Phillion], the government is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada rather than sit down with a 75-year-old man who’s been involved with this since 1972,” says Dalton.
Dalton himself served more than eight years in prison after being charged with murdering his wife, who had in fact died by accident from choking on cereal.
AIDWYC aims to make the event annual and raise awareness around the world where wrongful convictions continue to happen. Some of the countries also taking part in the initiative are the United States, Australia, and the Netherlands.