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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh, for pity's sake! 

When will Canada stop torturing Steven Truscott?
A judge is deciding on whether Truscott should receive compensation for the ten years he spent in jail -- for a crime he did not commit -- plus the lifetime of suspicion. And now the cheapskate judge is saying that because the Appeal Court had no DNA evidence on which to base a finding of innocence, therefore Truscott might not be entitled to compensation.
This is both stupid and cruel.
In 2000, then-Justice Critic Peter MacKay told the Commons:
. . . the Truscott case, as we know, has been a festering wound on the psyche of this nation and casts a shadow over the entire criminal justice system. The case against Truscott was based on ambiguous, circumstantial and inconsistent testimony from children, impossible medical analysis of the murder victim and Mr. Truscott himself . . .
Now the Appeal Court has finally acquitted him.
He should have been acquitted in 1959. He should have spent the next ten years playing ball and studying algebra and learning to drive and going on dates and goofing around with his buddies. Instead, this is what our justice system did to him:
REQUIEM FOR A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD
By: Pierre Berton

In Goderich town
The Sun abates
December is coming
And everyone waits:
In a small, dark room
On a small, hard bed
Lies a small, pale boy
Who is not quite dead.

The cell is lonely
The cell is cold
October is young
But the boy is old;
Too old to cringe
And too old to cry
Though young --
But never too young to die.

It's true enough
That we cannot brag
Of a national anthem
Or a national flag
And though our Vision
Is still in doubt
At last we've something to boast about:
We've a national law
In the name of the Queen
To hang a child
Who is just fourteen.

The law is clear:
It says we must
And in this country
The law is just
Sing heigh! Sing ho!
For justice blind
Makes no distinction
Of any kind;
Makes no allowances for sex or years,
A judge's feelings, a mother's tears;
Makes no allowances for age or youth
Just eye for eye and tooth for tooth
Tooth for tooth and eye for eye:
A child does murder
A child must die.

Don't fret ... don't worry ...
No need to cry
We'll only pretend he's going to die;
We're going to reprieve him
Bye and bye.

We're going to reprieve him
(We always do),
But it wouldn't be fair
If we told him, too
So we'll keep the secret
As long as we can
And hope that he'll take it
Like a man.

And when we've told him
It's just "pretend"
And he won't be strung
At a noose's end,
We'll send him away
And, like as not
Put him in prison
And let him rot.

The jury said "mercy"
And we agree --
O, merciful jury:
You and me.

Oh death can come
And death can go
Some deaths are sudden
And some are slow;
In a small cold cell
In October mild
Death comes each day
To a frightened child.

So muffle the drums and beat them slow,
Mute the strings and play them low,
Sing a lament and sing it well,
But not for the boy in the cold, dark cell,
Not for the parents, trembling-lipped,
Not for the judge who followed the script;
Save your prayers for the righteous ghouls
In that Higher Court who write the rules
For judge and jury and hangman too:
The Court composed of me and you.

In Goderich town
The trees turn red
The limbs go bare
As their leave are bled
And the days tick by
As the sky turns lead
For the small, scared boy
On the small, stark bed
A fourteen-year-old
Who is not quite dead.


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