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bullet"Recovered memories are joining electroshock, lobotomies and other psychiatric malpractice in the historical dustbin." Alan Gold, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association in Canada. 1

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In 1998-MAR, Alan D. Gold, president of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers Association sent a letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada. The letter expressed concern for persons imprisoned as a result of improper convictions based on recovered memory therapy (RMT).

About six weeks after the letter was sent, the Government rejected the appeal for an inquiry. To our knowledge, no action has since been taken by the Government of Canada to investigate the imprisonment of innocent persons who were convicted on the basis of recovered memories.

In the meantime, inquiries of the type requested in the following letter were conducted by the governments of the Netherlands and Australia.

We believe that by the end of 2004, everyone imprisoned in Canada on the basis of recovered memories has served their sentence and has been released from jail.

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Alan Gold's letter:

March 25, 1998

Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada
Justice Building 239 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H8


Under the direction of your predecessor in office, a special inquiry was conducted into a particular category of past criminal convictions, namely that of women found guilty of murdering their husbands; you were involved in acting on that inquiry's conclusions. The ground for reopening all those cases was not the usual one applied in appeals of individual convictions (such as errors at the trial level or new evidence); rather, it was a new psychological concept (the "battered wife syndrome"), one not explicitly existing in law at the time of the original trial, but later deemed applicable to an entire group of cases.

Without considering the merits of the earlier inquiry, it has become increasingly plain that an urgent and powerful need exists for that type of governmental action in another category of cases. In recent years, a certain concept has been allowed uncritically into jurisprudence in Canada and elsewhere that of "repressed" and later "recovered" memory. There was never any legitimate reason for regarding such alleged memories as trustworthy; but by this point in time it is perfectly clear that they are not.

In the past two years, professional associations of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental- health workers in various countries (including Canada) have officially warned that such "memories" are so unreliable in general that their evidential value in any individual case is zero. In fact, great numbers of practitioners in those fields maintain that memory "repression" (an unconscious act, not mere forgetting) does not exist at all, certainly not in the case of serious trauma. But that debate is immaterial to the concerns of the Justice system; real or not, such alleged memories are too readily confused with the results of suggestion and confabulation to have any degree of reliability.

As realization of the total unreliability of "recovered memory" has taken hold in the justice community, courts in many places have responded appropriately. In the US, Appellate and Supreme Courts in New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Rhode Island, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, California, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Utah and Maryland have issued judgments recognizing the injustice of an accused being convicted on grounds of "recovered memory".

And yet that now-discredited concept has by this point in time been applied in scores of court cases in our country. More recently, such "evidence" has not been allowed to hold sway in Canada either. But those men convicted under the older naive views continue to suffer - and some of them are still in prison because of it. Worse yet, courts in certain individual "repressed memory" cases in Canada have turned down appeals based on today's greater awareness of how memory works - apparently on the narrow grounds that all was done properly under the jurisprudence of the time. Because of these circumstances, the undersigned believe, there is only one just and proper thing for the Justice Minister to do. Conduct an inquiry into this entire category of convictions, with a view to releasing forthwith all those prisoners who would not have been convicted but for the testimony of "recovered memories".

Given the systemic nature of the original injustice, and given the failure of Canadian courts to act on the problem even in individual cases, and given the ongoing suffering of those convicted without any adequate grounds, it is absolutely imperative that you act on this matter without delay.

Yours very truly,

Alan D. Gold,
President Criminal Lawyers Association

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The letter was also signed by:

Doreen Kimura, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.; ,LL.D. (Hon.). Professor in Psychology and in the Neurosciences Graduate Programme, University of Western Ontario

Elizabeth F. Loftus, Ph.D. President American Psychological Society, University of Washington

Endel Tulving , Ph.D., F.R.S.C., F.R.S., Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, Rotman Research Institute;
Professor Emeritus Psychology, University of Toronto; Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Centre 3560 Bathurst Street, Ontario

C. Tana Dineen , Ph.D., C.Psych.(Ontario), R.Psych.(B.C) Author: "Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is doing to People," (1996). Victoria. B.C.

Shimon Amir, Ph.D. Professor Center For Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Psychology ,
Concordia University

Maggie Bruck, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, McGill University, co-author of "Jeopardy in the Courtroom A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony," American Psychological Association., (1995).
Member of American Psychological Society, Society for Research on Child Development, Psychonomics Society

Nancy Marcus, Attorney at Law, J.D.

William G. Webster, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor of Psychology,
Brock University.

Timothy E. Moore, PhD, C Psych., Chair, Dept. of Psychology Glendon College, LaMarsh Research Program on Violence & Conflict Resolution, York University

Lawrence Greenspon, Specialist in Criminal & Civil Litigation c/o KARAM, GREENSPON, Ottawa,

Michael von Grünau, Department of Psychology, Concordia University Charlotte Vale Allen, Author of "Daddy's Girl The Shocking Story of a Child's Ordeal."

R. Christopher Barden, Attorney , J.D., LP , Ph.D.(psychology), President, National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practices, North Salt Lake, Utah

Peter Suedfeld, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. Professor of Psychology, The University of British Columbia

Neil Boyd, LLB, LLM, Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University

Karl Akiba Enright, MD. FRCPC., Psychiatrist, Whistler, B.C.

D. Stephen Lindsay,Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, memory researcher, member of the Psychonomic Society, the American Psychology and Law Society, the American Psychological Society, the Canadian Society for Brain, Behavioral, and Cognitive Science, and the Society for Applied Research on Memory and Cognition.

Gerald Nemiroff, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

Barry Spinner, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick,

Paul Sandor MD FRCPC, Staff psychiatrist, The Toronto Hospital, Toronto

Hamar Foster, Professor Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D., Brain Behavior Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University

Wayne Sumner, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., FRSC, Professor, Department of Philosophy and Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Harold Merskey, D.M., F.R.C.P(C)., F.R.C.Psych., Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario,

Gerry Ferguson, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

John J. Furedy, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto, and President (1993-8), Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship.

Joseph Magnet, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa; formerly Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley; formerly Assistant Crown Attorney, Ottawa

Dr. Ted Hannah, Department of Psychology, Memorial Unversity of Newfoundland

Sheila Taub. J.D., Professor , Quinnipiac College School of Law

Gerry Ferguson, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Prof. Michael G. Kenny, D.Phil (Oxon.), Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

Mark Pendergrast, Journalist, Author, "Victims of Memory Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives"

Charles Traynor, Vice President. Campbell Goodell Traynor Consultants Ltd ,Victoria,

Herman W. Ohme, National Co-Chair, National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practice

Dr. Griffith Pearson M.D. 18 A Lower Village Gate Apt. 112 Toronto

Jane Dywan, Ph.D., C. Psych., Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Brock University

Dan C. McIntyre, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Carelton University, Ottawa

Sidney J. Segalowitz, Ph.D. Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Brock University

Robert M. Zacharko, PhD, Professor, Carleton University, Institute of Neuroscience, Ottawa

Donald J. Egleston, Faculty of Law,  University of British Columbia

Donald V. Coscina, Ph.D. Chair and Professor, Department of Psychology, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Wayne State University; Visiting Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto; Visiting Scientist at the Clarke Institute Toronto.

Fred J. Boland Ph.D.,C.Psych., Associate Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Queens University.

Brian E. Butler, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology and Education, Queen's University

Gordon Winocur, PhD, Research Scientist Rotman Research Institute, Professor of Psychology, Trent University, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Toronto

R. C. L. Lindsay, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology, Queen's University. Member of: American Psychological Association; American Psychology-Law Society; Society for Applied Research on Memory and Cognition

Michiel Horn, Professor of History, Glendon College of York University

Gary C. Walters, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto, Director, Child Studies Program

Philip Merikle. Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, University of Waterloo

Derek Besner Ph.D., Professor, Psychology Department, University of Waterloo,

David Piggins, M.A., F.S.M.C., F.C. Optom., D.Opt., Department of Psychology, University of Guelph,
Visiting Research Fellow, University of Wales, Bangor, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Cambridge, England,

Carl L. von Baeyer, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Training, Registered Psychologist, Professor Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan

Rolf Kroger, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Toronto

Michael Dixon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, Member of the International Neuropsychological Society, University of Waterloo

A. Daniel Yarmey Ph.D., Professor Department of Psychology University of Guelph, Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association; Member of Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, American Psychology - Law Society

John M. Kennedy , Ph.D., Editor: "Metaphor and Symbol;" Past President: American Psychological Association, Division 10:

Psychology and the Arts Supervisor, Cognitive Science Program, University of Toronto at Scarborough, University of Toronto -- Psychology

Patricia Bowers, Ph.D., C. Psych., Assoc. Professor, University of Waterloo,

W. C. Corning, Ph.D., Neurophysiologist and Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Waterloo.

Marvin Brown, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan

Jennifer A. Stolz, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario,

Robert Zemore, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan

Charles B. Crawford, Professor of Psychology, Simon Fraser University

Joanne Wood, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo

Geoffrey T. Fong, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada. Visiting Research Collaborator, Princeton University.  At present Visiting Scholar, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Thomas B. Wishart, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan,

Delroy L. Paulhus, Associate Professor, Dept of Psychology, University of British Columbia

Ian Maynard Begg, Professor, Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Roberto Cabeza,Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta.

Lori Buchanan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, University of Alberta

Don Dutton, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of British Columbia.


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  1. Stephen Bindman, "Can recovered memories be trusted? Justice minister rejects call for inquiry," The Ottawa Citizen, 1998-MAY-04.

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Site navigation:

Home >"Hot" religious topics and conflicts > RMT > here

or: Home > Religious violence > RMT > here

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Originally posted: 2005-JAN-19-
Latest update: 2005-JAN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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