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The Practice of Execution in Canada by Ken Leyton-Brown

The Practice of Execution in Canada
The Practice of Execution in Canada
Ken Leyton-Brown
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UBC Press (June 1, 2010)
256 pages
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It is easy to forget that the death penalty was not abolished in Canada until 1976. But from the time of Confederation execution was an entrenched aspect of Canadian culture and criminal justice, one whose meaning was shaped by ritual, symbol, and theatricality.The Practice of Execution in Canada is not about what led some to the gallows and others to escape it. It is about the taken-for-granted rituals and practices of execution, seen as a social institution. Drawing on hundreds of capital case files, Ken Leyton-Brown shows that each phase of the process - from the trial to confession, from the procession to interment - was constrained by law and tradition. But the institution was not rigid. Powerful forces were arrayed against it, and a series of reforms tried to preserve execution as a positive institution in Canadian society. As execution receded from the public eye, however, it was emptied of meaningful ritual and became more vulnerable to criticism.The Practice of Execution in Canada is the first comprehensive look at the history of execution in Canada. It will be of interest to students and scholars of Canadian history, legal history, criminology, and law and anyone who wants a deeper understanding of contemporary debates on capital punishment.