Three deaths…

   Feb. 13, 2014

 Toronto Star – Laura Kane
Toronto police shootings inquest rules deaths as homicides; recommends training changes 

 Three months and dozens of witnesses later, the police inquest into the deaths of three mentally ill but armed persons brings 74 recommendations mostly around better training for police.  The jury returned a verdict of homicide in all three cases but the verdict has no criminal implications.  All the officers were cleared of responsibility for the deaths.

 Montreal Gazette – Canadian Press
Former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr transferred to medium security in Alberta

 Khadr, now 27 years old, has been transferred from maximum security to medium security at Bowden Institution, a move requested by Khadr to allow him access to programming and treatment for the former child soldier.

 Cambridge – Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Transgender woman moved to women’s jail 

 A transgendered person with a British passport identifying her as a woman was placed in custody at Toronto airport by Canada Border Services Agency and transferred to Maplehurst Correctional Centre in Milton, ON, an all male facility.  She has since been further transferred and faces a hearing on Wednesday.

 N. Y. Times Sunday Review Op Ed – Nickolas Kristof
Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail 

 Cook County Jail Chicago is the scene where Kristof suggests that the US has adopted handcuffs over mental health treatment.  60% of intake are already diagnosed with serious mental illness.  Says Sherriff Tom Dart:  “It’s criminalizing mental illness.”   A response article:  Huffington Post (US) – Robert David Jaffee  Sympathy for Nick Kristof on His Piece on Mental Illness    Jaffee takes issue with Kristof’s “soft’ examples and says that you have to recognize that these are serious crimes and that there is a hard core element that will simply go back to a life of crime, even after treatment.   

Bullying Statistics 2014 (US) 

 The article reports on pervasive bullying in schools, particularly the middle schools, where one in three students report having been bullied.  Curiously, bullying itself is not against the law until it becomes harassment or hazing.  Related article:  Digital Journal (UK)  Bullying Statistics 2014: an Extensive Guide Released by NoBullying Today  

 TED Talks – Baillie Aaron (UK)
Once a thief, always a thief?

 Baillie Aaron is co-founder and Executive Director of Spark Inside, a UK charity supporting young people in custody through life coaching.  She argues that discrimination around criminal records for job applications is the most serious inhibitor to employment.  She wants us to use a strength-based approach to re-entry employment issues and to abandon labels like “ex-offender.”  

 Vera Institute of Justice (US) –
Playbook for Change? States Reconsider Mandatory Sentences 

VERA tracks the response to mandatory minimums at the state level since 2000.  Recent both President Obama and Attorney General Holder have issued instructions to mitigate the impact of sentencing on non-violent drug offenders.  Vera notes three ways some 29 states have been trying to control the extent of the sentences and the move to mass incarceration. 

 Reuters (US) – Sharon Bernstein
Amid criticism, California to modify solitary confinement rules 

 California prison system has long been a focus for criticism over solitary confinement practices that saw inmates locked in solitary for years, a practice already defined as torture internationally and through the UN.  The reforms are designed to make it tougher to impose solitary and to help create a way out for those currently in solitary.  The reforms will undoubtedly put in the question even the existence of the infamous SHU unit or the secure housing unit.

 Global Mail (Australia)
At work inside our detention centers 

 The link is to a cartoon description of applying for work, training and working inside an Australian immigration detention facility – all of which are run by corporate giant Serco.  The cartoons offer frightful picture of how the work impacts the individual guard.