The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History
Published by: University of Toronto Press
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Sales Date: 2020-10-21
Published: October 2020
384 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.25 in, 48 b&w illustrations
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From Confederation to the partial abolition of the death penalty a century later, defendants convicted of sexually motivated killings and sexually violent homicides in Canada were more likely than any other condemned criminals to be executed for their crimes. Despite the emergence of psychiatric expertise in criminal trials, moral disgust and anger proved more potent in courtrooms, the public mind, and the hearts of the bureaucrats and politicians responsible for determining the outcome of capital cases.
Wherever death has been set as the ultimate criminal penalty, the poor, minority groups, and stigmatized peoples have been more likely to be accused, convicted, and executed. Although the vast majority of convicted sex killers were white, Canada’s racist notions of "the Indian mind" meant that Indigenous defendants faced the presumption of guilt. Black defendants were also subjected to discriminatory treatment, including near lynchings. In debates about capital punishment, abolitionists expressed concern that prejudices and poverty created the prospect of wrongful convictions.
Unique in the ways it reveals the emotional drivers of capital punishment in delivering inequitable outcomes, The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History provides a thorough overview of sex murder and the death penalty in Canada. It serves as an essential history and a richly documented cautionary tale for the present.
1. The Politics of the Death Penalty and the Problem of Sex Murder
2. Sex Fiends and the Death Penalty at the Turn of Canada’s Century
3. Contesting Convictions and Questioning Culpability: Sex Murder between the Wars
4. Sexual Psychopathy and Penal Severity in the Post-War Era
5. Sexual Psychopathy, Insanity, and the Death Penalty under Scrutiny in the 1950s
6. Sex Murder in the Sixties and the Demise of the Death Penalty
Epilogue: The Problem of Sex Murder in the Shadow of Abolition
Note on Sources and Methods
"Strange has not only offered a challenging, thoughtful, and often unsettling work, but has done so in a fashion solidifying her place as one of this nation’s very best historians."Jonathan Swainger, University of Northern British Columbia, Labour/Le Travail