Dec 17, 2014

 Edmonton Journal – Editorial (Dec 16, 2014)
Set limits on isolating prisoners 

Last week Corrections Canada said that it would not limit the amount of time an inmate could spend in solitary confinement or segregation.  The Journal takes exception to the position and reviews the recommendations from various bodies around the impact of solitary on the mental health of the inmate.  Calling the excessive use in various cases “a horrible mistake,”  “an abomination,” “an embarrassment,”  the editorial quotes Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers in his assessment that it is not the job of corrections officials to make arbitrary decisions that intensify the punishment and the suffering of inmates.  Finally, says the Journal: “It is beyond cruel. It is torture, not justice.”

 Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Tories appoint two conservative law professors as judges 

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has released the names of two of the most conservative law school professors in Canada as judges.  Grant Huscroft becomes a judge in the Ontario Court of Appeal, and Bradley Miller becomes a judge in the Superior Court of Justice.  Both are currently at Western University in London, ON.  Miller in particular represents a view of constitutional law called “originalism” and one generally not accepted in Canada.   Related article: Toronto Star – Donovan Vincent and Rachel Mendleson    Federal government fills Ontario court vacancies

 CBC News –
Federal prison inmates make Christmas toys for children in Williams Lake 

Inmates in seven prisons in BC are making toys for needy Aboriginal children this Christmas in a program called Work2give.  The inmates make toys, baby clothes and bunk beds and ship the goods by truck to Williams Lake, BC for distribution.  Sarah Jackman, co-ordinator of the program, says:  “Some of these guys look a little scary frankly and then you see them knitting a hat or sewing a teddy bear and it’s such a strange juxtaposition of what you’re expecting to see.” – Lauren Strapagiel
Wealth inequality worse than Canadians think – Desire to address wealth gap crosses political lines 

The Broadbent Institute has just published the results of a study involving interviews with some 3,000 Canadians.  Not surprisingly, the concern about disparity crosses all political lines but equally not surprisingly the reality, the perception and the ideal are all quite at odds. Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute, thinks the recent announcements of income splitting have been influential in the results.    Related article: The Broadbent Institute   The Wealth Gap: Perceptions and Misconceptions in Canada  (14 page downloadable pdf; video narrated by Ed Broadbent also available at the link)

 N.Y. Times (US) – Julia Preston
Detention Center Presented as Deterrent to Border Crossings 

The US immigration authorities have opened the largest detention center ever – 2400 population – in Dilley, Texas, in a former oil field worker’s camp of about 50 acres.  The opening was used to show that President Obama’s plan to tackle immigration issues in its southern border states has some teeth as well as compassion.  The center will cost $296 a day per detainee and euphemism wins again: it is called the South Texas Family Residential Center.   Related article: National Catholic Reporter –   Vinnie Rotondaro      U.S. bishop decries new detention center, calls treatment of migrant mothers with children ‘inhumane’     Related article: Latin Post – Rebecca S. Myles    Immigration Reform 2014 News: Obama Administration Unveils Largest U.S. Detention Center in Texas

 Huffington Post (US) – Les Leopold
Are We the World’s Most Anti-Worker Nation?  

The US now ranks 26th in the world in median income, even though it still has lots of billionaires.  Median income is defined as the total value of all assets owned and by comparison Canadians are twice as wealthy on this scale and Leopold says that the US is the most anti-worker country in the developed world. (IRE) –  Marie Keenan and Bernadette Fahey
Restorative justice may provide additional justice mechanism for victims of sexual crime, study shows

A study around interviews with 149 victims of sexual crimes, judges, offenders and others, is suggesting that RJ practices may have a few methods of use when helping the victims.  The study claims that RJ is not for everyone but that for some the practices offer healing in the effort to repair the harm done.  Full study: Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformative Possibilities?   (A 328 page downloadable pdf)