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-- THE ARCHIVE --


CANADA
Judicial CP - July 1956



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 plain.

Strapping is always preceded by a medical examination. Doctors are in attendance at all strappings in penitentiaries and in many provincial institutions.

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 property.

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 serious offences.

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.

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