Corpun file 23814
The Gazette, Montreal, 12 July 1956
Abolish Corporal Punishment Sentence, Probe Recommends
Strap To Maintain Order In Prisons
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Ottawa, July 11 -- (CP) -- A joint Parliamentary committee
today recommended that corporal punishment be abolished in
Canada as part of a prison sentence.
However, a 6,000-word report tabled in the two Houses of
Parliament by the Commons-Senate committee on capital and
corporal punishment and lotteries urged retention of the strap as
a "last resort" to maintain order in prisons.
It said the existence in Canada of corporal punishment as part of
a sentence "affords no unique deterrence to crime." But
the strap is necessary as a deterrent to prison riots and attacks
on prison officers.
The committee has reported on two aspects of its two-year
study -- corporal and capital punishment. It recommended
retention of the death penalty but substitution of electrocution
or the gas chamber for hanging, and abolition of executions for
convicted murderers 18 years or under.
A report on the committee's investigation into Canada's lottery
laws will be made later.
8 Offences Involved
Corporal punishment can be ordered as part of a sentence for
eight offences. They are: Rape and attempted rape, sexual
intercourse with a female under 14, indecent assault on a female,
incest, indecent assault on a male, robbery, armed burglary, and
overcoming resistance to the commission of an offence by choking,
drugs and other methods.
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The committee rejected representations for increased use of the
strap against young offenders. At present juvenile offenders
under 16 and females are not subject to corporal punishment.
Corporal punishment may be administered by a lash -- a leather
handle to which nine leather thongs are attached -- or a strap.
Most courts order strapping, applied across the buttocks.
No specifications for the size or use of the lash or strap are
provided in the Criminal Code. Federal penitentiaries use a
perforated strap but the ones used in provincial institutions are
Strapping is always preceded by a medical examination. Doctors
are in attendance at all strappings in penitentiaries and in many
The courts determine the number of strokes given at one time in
the case of prison sentences. Prison officials stipulate the
number of strokes for infraction of prison rules.
The committee said corporal punishment should be retained for
cases of mutiny, incitement to mutiny and for serious assaults on
penitentiary officers and servants. It also should be available
to punish prisoners guilty of arts of violence against fellow
prisoners or causing or attempting serious damage to penitentiary
Not Difficult To Adopt
The report frowned on any indiscriminate use of corporal
punishment. This would tend to reduce its significance and render
it less effective than if it was reserved for only the most
The committee said its recommendation could easily be adopted
because the courts in recent years have made little use of
corporal punishment as part of a sentence. It had evidence
that in many cases the strap was not applied even though it had
been ordered by a court.
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If its recommendation was not accepted the committee urged:
An amendment to the Criminal Code providing that corporal
punishment be ordered only after the courts receive and consider
full reports on the background of offenders.
That corporal punishment be administered early in each sentence
and that it should not be coupled with a long sentence.
That the strap should be used exclusively and that uniform
specifications for the construction and use of the instrument
should be made and enforced.