Romeo Phillion speaks at Flip your Wig campaign at Humber Lakeshore
By Katherine George
The man holding the record for serving the longest sentence of a wrongful conviction spoke to students at Humber Lakeshore on Monday.
Romeo Phillion was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder in 1972.
Phillion’s story began with a false confession that ended up haunting him for the next 31 years in jail.
He shared his story as a guest speaker for the Flip Your Wig for Justice campaign, which spreads awareness and raises money for six non-profit organizations improving access to justice in Ontario and Canada.
One of these organizations is The Association in Defence for the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), a foundation responsible for the exoneration of Phillion and 22 other individuals in Canada.
Win Waher, director of client services at AIDWYC, spoke to students at Humber’s Lakeshore campus educating the public on wrongful conviction.
“There are a lot of reasons people get wrongly convicted. No one gets wrongly convicted for one reason,” Waher told Humber News.
Criminal cases start with police and they are responsible for doing a thorough initial investigation, she said, adding prosecutorial misconduct, bad science and even biased judges can lead to wrongful convictions.
Samantha Jennings, 19, a second year criminal justice student at Humber is running the Flip Your Wig for Justice campaign this year.
“We want to bring awareness and educate students, especially criminal justice students, on what is going wrong in our system. We are the future and we are the ones that can change it,” she said.
Waher told Humber News it’s important students understand the human loss and consequences when someone doesn’t do their job properly.
Phillion said in his speech the best thing the future leaders of Canada’s justice system can do is be sincere.
“You can make the change,” said Phillion. “Make sure it’s done right and be honest.”
Romeo is currently in the midst of a battle with police and the Crown to be compensated for his lost time behind bars.
Humber’s school of social and community services is hosting an exhibition of the Flip your Wig campaign at Humber Lakeshore’s L-space until March 12, inviting more guest speakers and showcasing other cases involving wrongful convictions.