Women’s justice reform

November 28, 2012

  • The Prison Reform Trust (UK) has a focus on women in the criminal justice system for this year’s annual guest lecturer, former prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC who entitles her presentation – Reforming Women’s Justice.  The trust also presents the pointed results of a public survey on solutions which says solutions are in health, not prison.
  • The group of federal inmates known as Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) are about to become a stepping stone to tough on crime.  Unfortunately both justice and truth as well as the mentally ill are victims yet again if this plan works.
  • SJN has a report on gang prevention training available in Quebec.  The link offers an outline of the programme.
  • The city of West DesMoines (Iowa) raises funds for  youth justice initiatives by… baking cookies and paying to vote for the best!
  • Quebec lawyers have filed an application with the Quebec Superior Court to contest mandatory minimums.
  • Finally, today, a commentary from a victim normally silenced and forgotten within the criminal justice process – the offender’s family.


The Prison Reform Trust Lecture 2012 London, UK: Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC
Reforming Women’s Justice

“After dealing with hundreds of cases in my first few years in my twenties, I matured somewhat, says Dame Angiolini in the video, “both as a  prosecutor and as a human being. It took a surprisingly short time to discover that the idea of criminals and victims as two separate and distinct groups was sometimes an artificial dichotomy. Many of those who were accused of crime were also appearing in the very same court as a victim of crime. This was particularly noticeable with women offenders. My notion of “them and us” was dispelled within months.” http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/GetInvolved/2012Lecture?dm_i=47L,1248Z,6JSCMH,39AWE,1 

 Prison Reform Trust (UK)
UK public says that the top three solutions to women offending lie in health, not criminal justice

A YouGov opinion poll, launched today by the Prison Reform Trust, reveals strong support for public health measures to tackle women’s offending. Treatment for drug addiction, help to stop alcohol misuse, and mental healthcare, were the top three solutions to get public backing for reducing offending by women who commit non-violent crimes.

The poll of 1,552 people across Britain reveals:

  • Nearly seven out of ten people polled  (69%) believe treatment for drug addiction would be effective at reducing the risk of offending
  • 68% thought help to stop alcohol misuse would be effective
  • 62% believe mental health care would be more effective




National Post Full Comment:  Ian Hunter


The wrong way to protect Canadians from mentally ill defendants


In the name of “victims’ rights,” Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is now applying its tough-on-crime agenda against the most vulnerable constituency within the justice system: the mentally ill.


The government proposes Criminal Code amendments to tighten restrictions on defendants who are found not criminally responsible for their actions by reason of mental illness. The Code currently requires that NCR (not criminally responsible) individuals be detained in a maximum-, medium- or minimum-security forensic hospital, and that each case be reviewed annually by a provincial review board. The review Bbard is comprised of five members, usually chaired by a judge, and including psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers and public members. The Board can decide upon the level of security each NCR accused requires; it can grant privileges — including living in the community; it may discharge the person, conditionally or absolutely. The current wording of the Criminal Code requires the board to grant the “least onerous, least restrictive” disposition that is consistent with four stated principles, one of which is “the need to protect the public from dangerous persons.”


Justice Minister Rob Nicholson wants to make public safety the paramount consideration in all cases, and he proposes that the fate of the accused be reviewed every three years instead of annually. Last Thursday, Mr. Nicholson said: “We are listening to victims, as well as provinces and territories, who are telling us that the safety of the public should be the paramount consideration in the decision-making process involving mentally disordered accused persons.”


Put that way, who can object?


What Mr. Nicholson did not say is that this is precisely how the Review Board currently operates; in fact, in R. v. Conway (2010) the Supreme Court held that a Review Board cannot grant an absolute discharge to anyone who remains a significant threat to the public. Therefore, while the government’s proposed amendment may be politically popular with the 90% of Canadians who, according to one poll, believe that anyone once declared NCR should never be released from supervision, in practice it is just window-dressing…










Quebec Gang Prevention Training Programme:


With support from the Ministère de sécurité publique du Québec, the program launched in 2005, coordinated by the Maisons de transitions de Montreal inc., and developed by a Training Committee made up of individuals representing different youth-intervention related milieus.

Following-up on the action-research initiative Jeunesse et gangs de rue involving the three communities of Montreal-North, Vieux-Longueil and Villeray-Little Italy; the program was mandated to inform and to mobilize citizens, interveners, organizations, and institutions in addressing gang phenomena.





1. To emphasize the importance of intervening with youth and their environments in a holistic, preventative manner.

2. To facilitate the development of the preventative and supportive approaches necessary for intervening with youth at-risk, youth affiliated with gangs, and youth seeking to end their affiliation with gangs.

3. To share knowledge, best practices and expertise.








West DesMoines Patch (Iowa): Beth Dalbey


Firefighters Claim People’s Choice Award at Great Cookie Walk of West Des Moines


The city’s fire department won the Great Cookie Walk of West Des Moines “People’s Choice Award,” triumphing for the second consecutive year in the friendly rivalry among city leaders to raise money for the Youth Justice Initiative, a community-based restorative justice program.





Ron Townsend, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, cookies said final results haven’t been tallied, but he’s confident the organizers will deliver a record contribution to YJI, a model restorative justice program that has buy-in from stakeholders across the community.


More than 660 people voted in the People’s Choice Award, a contest in the Celebrity Cookie Bake-Off. The West Des Moines Police Department won the award for the most creative entry.


Sponsors will match each vote with a $1 contribution to YJI…





CBC News:


Quebec lawyers to contest mandatory minimum sentences

Motion filed with Quebec Superior Court over omnibus crime bill’s provisions


The Quebec Bar Association has announced its plan to contest the constitutionality of minimum sentencing in the Conservative government’s omnibus crime legislation.


The controversial Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, was passed last March in the House of Commons and lays out tougher jail sentences and mandatory minimum sentencing.


The bar association, which represents over 24,000 lawyers in the province, filed its motion with the Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday, asking it to rule on the constitutionality of the specific sections of the law that deal with mandatory minimum sentences.


‘It’s extremely dangerous, this increasing of sentences and creation of new offences in the face of all evidence that crime is down.’—Julius Grey, constitutional lawyer


The bill has not been well received in Quebec, and the association says mandatory sentences do not help to protect citizens.


Quebec’s former justice minister and interim leader of the Liberal Party, Jean Marc Fournier, is a staunch opponent of the legislation. He came back from Ottawa empty-handed last week after going there to seek amendments to the law…









Global TV News:  Restorative justice for families of offenders


Mon, Nov 26 : When a horrible crime is committed it leaves lasting scars. The victim’s families are forever burdened with grief and pain. But there’s another group of people who are also dramatically impacted, yet they’re given very little consideration in the healing process. Here’s Jill Croteau with that forgotten perspective.


http://www.globaltvbc.com/video/restorative+justice/video.html?v=2309835473#video ( A 2 minute video report. )




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