Access to justice

  Jan 10, 2014

 Globe and Mail – Editorial
High-priced justice

The editorial is commenting on the recent Canadian Bar Association report on access to justice, described as ‘abysmal’.  Estimates are that approximately one half of those involved in family law litigation have no lawyer.   Related article: The Guardian (UK) – Sarah Vine, Doreen Lawrence, Nigel Pascoe and Jennifer Blair    Legal aid: is this the cut that kills the system? 

 Operation Maple: Taking back Canada
Jailing the mentally ill: A story behind bars

Here is a link to a four minute video that powerfully presents the crisis around the mental health issues for women in prison.  A former inmate and Kim Pate of Elizabeth Fry comment on the frightful experience of being jailed without resource or treatment.

 Vancouver Sun  – Ian Mulgrew
Lifelong criminal, addict needs more than just another stay in prison

 BC Justice Elizabeth Bennett offers this case to explain what is wrong with the tough-on-crime approach.  She refused a long sentence for a revolving door offender, a habitual criminal and addict, on the grounds that jail itself resolves nothing.  The circumstances of the case would suggest that the offender’s latest bank robbery without a weapon was his ploy to go to jail.  O Henry’s brick through the window is alive and well!

 McGill Daily – Jeremy Schembri
Bullying 2.0    Omnibus Bill C-13 tackles cyberbullying by eroding digital privacy 

From academician comes yet another warning that the federal government’s Bill C-13, allegedly to fight cyberbullying, goes well beyond the suggested purposes and sacrifices on-line privacy by allowing police to monitor everyone.

 Wall Street Journal – Law Blog
Study: 49% of Black Men Are Arrested By Age 23 

A longitudinal study of 9,000 youth has some startling results: 49% of Black men, 44% Hispanics and 22% white males have been arrested by age 23.  Published by Crime and Delinquency, the 17 page report says that by age 18, the results are only slightly less dismal.  Full pdf report: (US)
Lawsuit filed in 1981 over state’s care for seriously mentally ill settled 

This 30 year old lawsuit confirms that justice grinds on slowly.  The lawsuit against the state of Arizona was over the treatment of inmates who did not qualify for Medicaid and yet were suffering serious mental illness.  The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and the state negotiated and agreed on key mental health services.………..0.Guo-NY0I06s   

 The Hill (US) – Jeremy Haile
Congress needs to change federal nonviolent drug sentencing policy

US politicians of all stripes have long recognized the problems created by the application of the federal mandatory minimums when non-violent drugs are tried under federal law.  In spite of the consensus there is an equally long outstanding but fruitless effort to revise those mandatory minimums. 

 Huffington Post – Blogger Derek Flood
A Better Story: Justice Redefined by the Gospel 

In the context of a retributive justice found in pop culture, Flood offers a contrast on the use of violence to solve violence.  Gospel justice, he says, begins when one asks what a person needs to be made whole again. 

 The Atlantic – Jeff Deeney
How to Discipline Students without Turning School into a Prison 

  The Federal Civil Rights arm of both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education have jointly urged schools and districts to abandon zero based tolerance policies on the grounds that the practice has been found racially discriminatory for Blacks and Latinos who are disciplined, suspended and expelled disproportionately, creating a school-to-prison pipeline.    Link to a 32 page pdf of Guidelines issued jointly:   Related article: Investor’s Business Daily   Undisciplining Kids through ‘Restorative Justice’

  The Local (Sweden)

Swedish jails empty despite crime rise 

 Sweden incarcerates at a rate 10 times less than the US and crime is up.  Still judges prefer alternatives and look to community services and involvement rather than jail time.  One called the practice by judges of preferring other than incarceration “a chance to start over.”