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Canada - Judicial and prison whipping

Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Capital and Corporal Punishment and Lotteries, 1953-55

Minutes of Evidence (extracts)

10 March 1954
Witness: Mr W.B. Common QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ontario

"Whipping is a punishment under 11 sections of the Criminal Code:

s.80 Assaults on the sovereign: 7 years imprisonment + whipping
s.276 Strangling to commit an indictable offence: life imprisonment + whipping
s.292 Indecent assault on female, wife beating, beating a female: 2 years + whipping
s.299 Rape: death, or life imprisonment with or without whipping
s.300 Attempts to commit rape: 7 years + whipping
s.301 Carnal knowledge of girl under 14: life imprisonment + whipping
s.302 Attempt to have carnal knowledge of girl under 14: 2 years + whipping
s.293 Indecent assault on a male: 10 years + whipping
s.457 Burglary while armed with an offensive weapon: life imprisonment + whipping
s.448 Assault with intent to rob: 3 years + whipping

"The other relevant sections of the Code are sections 1060, which provides that whipping shall be administered once, twice or thrice -- that is the terminology used -- according to the quantum of sentence, and it is to take place under the supervision of the medical officer of the particular prison where the accused man is incarcerated.

"Corporal punishment under that section is to be administered at a time to be determined by the official in charge of the prison but must not take place less than 10 days before the expiration of the sentenced imposed.

"In Ontario the judiciary is opposed to corporal punishment in addition to long terms of imprisonment .... e.g. in a sentence for rape of 10 years plus 15 strokes of the strap, the Court of Appeal have consistently either remitted the strapping and let the sentence of imprisonment stand, or reduced the term of imprisonment and let the corporal punishment stand.

"I feel strapping and caning might be extended to youthful offenders in certain circumstances -- purse-snatching, housebreaking, etc. if all reasonable probation fails."

Q. What do you mean youthful offenders?

A. "Roughly 16 to 18. In Ontario those under 16 go to juvenile court where there is no corporal punishment. The age limits vary from province to province."

Q. Is any other corporal punishment other than whipping used in other countries?

A. "In England they had the birch but we have never done that here. Here we have only ever had the cat-o'-nine-tails and the strap. The strap is popularly thought of as less vicious than the cat, but I am told that the strap actually causes more pain ... the paddle is a common name for the strap."

Q. Corporal punishment is more effective for the young offender for the young offender than the hardened criminal?

A. "I think so ... Some young offenders look on prison as a mark of distinction ..... the same individual would not be so brash if he had been paddled by a burly policeman or prison attendant and received a certain number of straps over the buttocks. It is the humiliation and indignity that accompanies corporal punishment which I think is a most emphatic deterrent."

Q. I wonder if you would mind describing to the committee exactly what the strap is?

A. "The strap is about 18" or 14" long and 3.5" wide and an eighth of an inch thick with a handle at one end. In most of these institutions they have a strapping machine. The accused is strapped into the machine, more or less handcuffed to the framework; he is locked into it and his feet in the same way -- in a bending position. His buttocks are exposed and the strap is applied."

Q. Can we see one of these things?

THE CHAIRMAN: I do not think we should attempt to administer a whipping before the committee.

Q. How many lashes are given at one time?

A. "It depends on the medical officer's report depending on his physical condition. If he gets 5 lashes he might get them all at one time, but if he is to have 15 lashes, he might get three them times, 5 each time."

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Copyright Colin Farrell 1999
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