One in five…

    April 13, 2015

 Globe and Mail – Patrick White
One in five federal inmates spent time in solitary confinement last year

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler and once Minister of Justice in Canada wanted to know the rate for the use of solitary confinement, euphemistically called administrative segregation by the current minister.  The answer is 6758 days in 2013-14 according to figures just released in the Commons – enough for a day for every one of five federal inmates, despite a supposed shift in the philosophy for its use:  “In its response to Mr. Cotler, the CSC detailed how its rationale for solitary has shifted in recent years based on 15 separate reports and inquests. Where once it was a key tool in “maintaining the good order of the institution,” solitary incarceration is now guided by more Charter-friendly parameters: “to be used as a last resort, where there are no reasonable alternatives, and for the shortest period of time possible.”  In the last five years, solitary has increased 22% for Aboriginals.  – Michael Den Tandt
Why Canada should abolish the Indian Act and reserve system 

While affirming that Canada needs a national inquiry on the murdered and missing Aboriginal women, Den Tandt is raising the issue of whether the reserve system should be abolished.  He is reacting to the RCMP claim that in solved cases of the murder of Aboriginals, the accused were in 70% of the cases Aboriginal themselves.  Still, Aboriginals are three times more likely than the national statistic to be a victim of violence, and the homicide rate is 12 times the national while the suicide is 10 times the rate.  Den Tandt offers five causes from the research and assesses the impact, especially the reserve system and its governance.

 CTV News – Marlene Leung
Hamilton police bring mental health workers along to frontlines

Hamilton Police has launched a new program around its effort with appropriate response to mental health cases: the police are bringing workers to the front lines of policing.  Called the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, the mental health worker rides along with police rather than picking up the case later at a hospital.  As a 911 response unit the mental health worker and the police officer “go over the information they have, review relevant police databases, discuss potential scenarios that may unfold and review safety protocols.”

 CTV News
Cap-and-trade: What you need to know about emissions jargon

Ontario and Quebec are negotiating a shared cap-and-trade program to control the emission of greenhouse gases from industrial sources.  The common alternative, a carbon gas tax, is in use in BC.  Here are the terms explained and the process for making either approach eventually reduce the gases.   Related article:  CBC News – Margo McDiarmid  Ontario to sign cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec to cut carbon emissions – Companies can cap their greenhouse gas emissions or buy credits from others

 Orange County Register (California) – Deepa Bharath
Garden Grove Victim’s Rights event: Forgiving killer of his son is healing for father

Azim Khamisa invented the word “soulular” to describe the connection he made the first time he laid eyes on his son’s killer.  It was the moment their souls connected, he thinks.  Tony Hicks, a 14 year old at the time, with two buddies. lured to his death 20 year old Tariq Khamisa, a journalism major and sometime pizza delivery person.   Said the grief stricken father:  Khamisa, 66, a Sufi Muslim, “There were victims at both ends of the gun.”

 Inside Ottawa Valley – Desmond Devoy
Restorative justice chaplain decries ‘tough-on-crime’ agenda as not working

Quaker Chaplain Kate Johnson, who worked in Canada’s federal prisons for over 20 years, wonders why Canada is to fixated on the “tough-on-crime” approach in the face of so much evidence that it is not working.   “…restorative justice was an effective way to make life safer for corrections officers, cheaper for the taxpayer, and would help rehabilitate offenders back into the community – all while taking ownership of their crimes and the impact it had had on the victims… Hurt people hurt people.”

 Huffington Post (US)  – Jean DeWinter
A Re-Entry Program That Works

Here’s re-entry program that has been modelling how to re-integrate inmates into community life.  Called Dismas House, one of number of such houses, this one is run by college students at Vanderbilt University, the results are less than 25% recidivism against a national average of 72%.  Former inmates live with the students who work together to meet the needs.  The group is governed by a board of directors from a diverse background and is funded through donations.