Manufacturing Guilt: Wrongful Convictions in Canada
Anna Leslie is an associate professor of sociology at Sir Wilfred
Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
This important work about wrongful convictions in the justice system
focuses on six cases, including those of Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard,
and Donald Marshall. These individuals, the authors write, have become
“symbols of a justice system gone wrong.” They also argue that “it
is usually the poor, uneducated, and marginalized people in society who
are charged, found guilty and sentenced to prison for a crime they did
The authors analyze wrongful convictions in two contexts: the
institutional level and the individual level. At the institutional
level, they maintain, there is professional and bureaucratic wrongdoing
within the justice system, including police targeting practices,
falsified forensic evidence, judicial malpractice, and prosecution and
defence misconduct. At the individual level, we are told that
“Canada’s persistent systemic social inequality causes certain
individuals and groups to become socially, politically and economically
powerless” and hence the most frequent victims of wrongful conviction.
While Anderson and Anderson recognize that honest mistakes have been
made, the cases presented in this volume suggest that much of the
wrongdoing is deliberate, involving individuals for whom “doing the
right thing becomes secondary to gaining a conviction.” The authors
call for accountability at the highest level of the justice system.
Those in positions of power cannot, they assert, “hide behind the
authority of their position by relegating the moral and ethical
responsibilities to those below” and then claim ignorance about what
others under their authority were doing.
This readable book will be of interest to both general readers and
students of the criminal justice system.