Mar 16, 2014  – Steve Sullivan
A sloppy attempt at parole system reform 

 Sullivan, formerly the first federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, has some serious reservations about Bill 479, a private member’s bill (MP David Sweet – Ancaster-Dundas, ON), also called Fairness for Victims Act.  The Bill aims to make parole harder for all inmates, a move that Sullivan rejects on the grounds that parole is a “key tool for the protection of the public.”  Release at sentence expiry is far more dangerous because most do not re-offend while on parole and many more program options are available to parolees.  Sullivan also criticizes the lack of pertinent information from competent CSC people involved knowledgeably in the corrections system. 

 Guelph Mercury.comChris Herhalt
Guelph needs new court to deal with mental health-related incidents, police chief says 

 Guelph Police Chief Brian Larkin is again calling for the establishment of a mental health court in the light of a 54% increase in calls involving mental patients.  He has also seen an increase over the last four years of 10% in the apprehensions of mentally ill.

   Coast Reporter (Sunshine Coast B.C.)  – Christine Wood
Restorative justice program launches new look 

 Formerly known as the Community Justice Program, the new look includes a new name to emphasise the RJ:  the Restorative Justice Program of the Sunshine Coast.  Functioning since 1998, the program likes to work on the 3 R’s:  three Rs: repairing the harm, restoring broken relationships and rebuilding the community.

BBC News (UK) – Zoe Conway
David Blunkett ‘regrets injustices’ of indeterminate sentences 

 Former Home Secretary David Blunket has had serious second thoughts about indeterminate sentences.  These are effectively sentences without end.  Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (known as IPP’s) were first introduced in 2003 and were intended to keep violent and sexual offenders in jail.  The scheme has back-fired and can be applied to cases without merit.  

 N.Y. Times Editorial (March 15, 2014)
A Rare Opportunity on Criminal Justice 

 The Times sees an opportunity for political convergence on two bills: The Smarter Sentencing Act and the  Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act.  Both acts are responses to the on-going problem:  “And yet the depth of the crisis in the federal system alone has been clear for years. Harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws have overstuffed prisons with tens of thousands of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders serving excessively long sentences. Federal prisons now hold more than 215,000 inmates, almost half of whom are in for drug crimes. Many come out more likely to reoffend than they were when they went in, because of the lack of any meaningful rehabilitation programs inside prison and the formidable obstacles to employment, housing and drug treatment that they face upon release.”

 Washington Post
Prosecutors push back on Holder’s drug crimes sentencing proposal 

 Here is an article that startles us into wondering why evidence based research and conclusions are not driving the prosecutors and district attorneys across the US.  Critics of Holder’s efforts to get change in sentencing are upset that victims may be offended by the financial considerations behind the government effort to reduce prison populations.  The push back for the status quo is already pronounced.