Surcharge failure…

   May 25, 2014   

iPolitics – Steve Sullivan
The feds victims’ surcharge law is a dismal failure

 Canada’s first appointed Ombudsman for Victims of Crimes has a rather pointed opinion on the struggle between the federal government and the judges in the matter of the mandatory imposition of a surcharge fine on the poor.  Sullivan thinks that the issue will likely wind up in the Supreme Court of Canada and that the government will lose again.  Not only that, the cost of collecting disputed surcharge fine often goes well beyond the actual fine; the real problem is the insistence by the feds that offenders need to help pay for victim services instead of visiting that burden on the government itself.

 Sunday Edition – Michael Enright
How Police Record Checks Can Harm the Innocent: Michael’s essay 

Here’s how Michael Enright sees the current criminal record check: “It turns out that police forces across this country keep every shred of contact you may have ever had with the cops, going back to your teen years. And even if you’ve never done anything wrong, never been convicted of any crime, what’s in those police files can, if made known, ruin your life.”   Related article:  Toronto Star – Robert Cribb   420,000 in police database never convicted: Analysis 

 Herald News (New Glasgow, NS)  – Francis Campbell
MacKay: Anti-drug fight a personal issue 

 Justice Minister Peter MacKay was in New Glasgow to announce a $16.1 million support for 34 anti-drug programs across the country.  Four of these projects are in Nova Scotia and aimed at reduced youth (aged 10-24) involvement in illicit and prescription drugs.  The money is part of a $45 million anti-drug strategy of the federal government.

 Globe and Mail – Editorial

The Fair Elections Act was fixed, but it’s still flawed 

 Calling the Fair Elections Act the worst piece of legislation for 2014, the editorial says the bill still has deficits in the enlarged need for vouching, the muzzle on Elections Canada in the removal of an educational mandate, the required permission of government for hiring outside resources or investigators.  It was the process used which was wrong from the start.

 Guardian (UK) – Owen Bowcott
Prisoners to challenge indeterminate sentences at UK supreme court 

Four prisoners under indeterminate sentences in Britain are challenging their sentences because whole life or indeterminate sentences now mean growing actual lengths in terms of the imprisonment.  There are over 12,000 inmates under one or the other sentence, a circumstance responsible in part for the growing prison population.

 National Journal (US) – Nicholas Turner and John Wetzel
Treating Prisoners with Dignity Can Reduce Crime   

 The authors are part of a Vera Institute of Justice European-American  Prison Project, designed to see what each could learn from the other about running prisons.  The experience, and the reflections, prompt a very important perspective that asks:  “what is the role of incarceration at a time when how we incarcerate achieves little of what we know works to stop reoffending and create stronger people and stronger and safer communities?” 

 The News Tribune (WA) – Steve Maynard
Pierce County may hire mental health probation officer

 With three mental health courts operating in other counties, rather than a mental health judge, Pierce County has instead decided to hire a person whose job is to keep the mentally ill from getting to court in the first place.  Judge Maggie Ross wants someone to help the 20% of parolees with documented mental health problems to deal with issues likely to bring them back to court: housing, medication, treatment and work.