Indefinite detention in Canada?

 Dec. 18, 2013

 Globe and Mail – Joe Friesen
Jailed in Canada, unwanted by Iraq, refugee struggles for way out of legal limbo

Five years in maximum security jail without conviction or even a charge!  There are eight more just like him – jailed for over three years – because they are to be deported and the country of origin won’t give them travel documents.  Professor Audrey Macklin, chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Toronto, thinks the practice is unconstitutional, and says, “What it amounts to is indefinite detention.  If a citizen would have been on the street, why should different rules apply to non-citizens?”   Related article:  Globe and Mail –Paola Loriggio     Federal cuts to refugee health care aren’t legally valid, doctors urge court  

 CBC News
Babies born in jail belong with moms, B.C. court says – Supreme Court Judge rules mothers’ right to be with infants is protected under the charter  

The B.C. government cancelled the practice at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge in 2008.  Judge Carol Ross called the decision “arbitrary,” and found no evidence to suggest the practice of mother-child dangerous, as the government claimed.  The government has a window of six months to comply.   Related article: Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald   – Amy Corderoy  Women lose babies while being held in immigration detention, James Cook University professor Caroline de Costa says 

 Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Seymour
Peter MacKay acting as ‘bully’ on victim fine surcharges, judge says

The Justice Minister has suggested that poor people should pay victim surcharge fines over time or should sell something to get the money.  Judge Colin Westman, after 24 years on the bench, says the minister has not been where the judge has been:  “I’m not trying to be a smart-alec here but I think someone has to remind the minister there are broken people here who don’t have anything to give. It’s a bully mentality. It’s kicking people while they are down,” said Westman Tuesday. “The people we are dealing with, believe me, a high portion of them are just broken souls.”  

 Catherine Latimer on VICTIM SURCHARGE

(Catherine Latimer, Executive Director of John Howard Society Canada, recently presented to both the House of Commons and the Senate on the question of victim surcharge.  The surcharges became effective October 2013.  The following is her abbreviated version of her remarks.) 

Doubling the surcharge (now 30% of fine imposed or $100 if summary/$200 if indictable) and removing judicial discretion to waive the surcharge if the person is unable to pay creates undue hardship for the poor:  (Judges are required to be assured that people can pay before imposing a fine but not a monetary surcharge.)

– “Fine option programs” cost resources to operate, will not generate revenues for victims services, and are not available at all in some provinces


– The cost of administering this program (Department of Justice officials testified that 2 appearances in court are required to avoid jail for non-payment based on inability, running fine option programs, collections) could well exceed the amount of revenues generated for victims services


– Given that the fine applies to all offences (victimless or not) and it not tied in any way to the harm caused to a particular victim, it will not achieve the policy objective of making offenders more accountable to the victims


– Is it wise to require judges to order someone just convicted of an offence with no visible legitimate means to produce money to cover a surcharge – something over and above the fair and proportionate penalty for the criminal wrongdoing? 

(Thanks to Catherine for this summary.  The full document is available from John Howard Society.)  

 The Pew Charitable Trusts
Managing Prison Health Care Spending 

42 of the 44 states included in this recent study have increased their per capita health care spending for inmates in prison, putting some real pressures on state budgets.  Medicaid is first under highest percentage of increase and corrections is often second.  Pew blames, in part, the aging prisoner population.  Pew Report (44 page pdf)   Related article:  STV News (Edinburgh, Scotland)   Health provisions should be reviewed ‘urgently’ finds prison report    Ian Dunt
The end: Is a Muazu appeal refused  

Advocates are convinced that there is clear evidence that once in Nigeria Muazu will face persecution.  Muazu was forcibly deported even though deathly ill at outrageous private charter airline expense (£180,000) last month and refused landing permission in Nigeria.

 Irish Mirror
Over half of prisoners released in 2008 re-offended within three years 

About 51% of male Irish prisoners released in 2008 seem to re-offend within three years.  The rates vary with age, sex and offence and are down from 62% in 2007.  More than 15% had been imprisoned for public order and other social code offences, 13.2% jailed for theft and related offences and almost 20.1% for road traffic offences.  The re-offending seems to hover around the six month period after release.   

 Vancouver Province – Associated Press
UN drug agency: Poverty, demand, keep driving increase in Myanmar opium production 

The UN has concluded that poverty among farmers where opium is the cash crop and the lack of alternative for earning a living is contributing significantly to the international drug trade.  The quantity of drugs produced has gone up by 46% in Afghanistan and 26% in Myanmar, the number one and two producers for the illicit trade.