Running wild…

     April 29, 2015 – Andrew Mitrovica
Caught in the gears of intelligence running wild

C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, has created frightening prospects for the potential of the intelligence community to go astray, especially without adequate monitoring and oversight.  Benamar Benatta is, as Mitrovica suggests, “a cautionary tale” about what happens when government abandons the rule of law in favour of arbitrary power in the name of national security.  The Canadian government settled out of court the day before the lawsuit was to start for its role in delivering Benatta to US custody where he spent five years in jail.  Mitrovica concludes with this warning:   “Once the federal government gives CSIS free rein to do what it wants – to anyone, whenever it wants – there will be other Benamar Benattas. And no one will have to answer for it.”   Related article:  Toronto Star – Rick Salutin   Should Omar Khadr get the Order of Canada?  (A two minute tongue-in-cheek nomination video)

CBC News – Power and Politics
Is the government approach to prison making Canada more or less safe

An 11 minute interview with Roxanne James, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Malcolm Allen of the NDP and Wayne Easter of the Liberals who discuss the auditor general’s critique of the government failure to use the parole system.  Mary Campbell, recently retired from the directorate for corrections, thinks the failure does not make people safe but increases the likelihood of recidivism and is more costly.    Related article: Toronto Star – Les Whittington    Canada’s prisoners aren’t being prepared properly for release, auditor general warns – About 65% of offenders don’t complete their rehabilitation programs before they become eligible for parole.   Related article: Globe and Mail – Patrick White    Parole changes have increased prison populations and costs, audit reveals

Toronto Star –
Reigning in policing costs may take changes to law 

Steadily increasing costs for policing has prompted a report from the Association of Municipalities on what the future of policing may look like.  The 31 recommendations include passing a number of jobs to civilians, changes to collective bargaining and the way salaries are determined, civilian oversight.  The changes envisioned my require changes in the Police Services Act as well.  Full report: (45 pages pdf)   Building a new public safety model in Ontario

Restorative Justice Council (UK) – Jon Collins
What’s the big idea?

With an election looming and considerable lobbying for RKJ measures to supplant the traditional justice model, this one organization is conceding that RJ still has a difficult road ahead, in spite of a favourable climate and success in the alternate approach.  The RJ Council wants to establish a RJ society and thinks that once the new government is in power, whomever it may be, the business of justice will go back to business as usual.  In anticipation, the Council wants its members to identify one big idea that could have a considerable impact as the “ask” for the election.  Any lessons for Canada here?

Peace (US)
Be the Movement! Take a Step for Peace

The site is oriented to youth activity in the face of several specific and problematic obstacles to achieving peace in our lives and in the nation, identifying five cornerstones, each with its objectives and goals:  Empowering Community Peacebuilding; Teaching Peace in Schools; Humanizing Justice Systems; Cultivating Personal Peace; Fostering International Peace.

Washington Post – Michael Cohen
How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about 

Cohen draws attention to the practice by the two largest of the prison-for-profit corporations in the US – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), who supports and profits from them and the extent of the profitability.  Senator Marco Rubio, also a presidential candidate, has a long history of campaign contributions and support from GEO dating from his Florida days.  CCA and GEO since 1989 have spent $10 million on candidates for office and over $25 million lobbying for policies favourable to their corporate profit.  Return on investment? $3.3 billion annual profit between the two corporations.

Bloomberg News (New Hampshire, US) – Matt Stroud and Joshua Brustein
‘Prison Skype’ squeezing out in-person visits

Following a consolidation among phone companies providing telephone services to prisons and inmates, there has been a considerable development and movement to the use of Skype even over personal visits in some prisons.  Unfortunately, the rates are still outrageous causing the federal communications authorities to impose maximums, particular on inter-state calls.  Both telephone companies and the prisons themselves reap copious profits on the backs of the families of inmates.

Ottawa East Community News  – Erin McCracken  OCDC –Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)
Forum condemns prisoner conditions, treatment at Innes Road jail – Human rights court case prompting change

Given the crowded conditions, the lack of programming, the lack of medical and psychiatric treatment, the movement to a human rights case before the human rights tribunal remains a viable alternative to correct long term abuse that will not yield to other efforts at change.  Human rights lawyer Paul Champ is pursuing the tribunal on behalf of his client, Christina Jahn, who was jailed at OCDC in 2011 and placed in solitary confinement for more than 200 days. “We brought this case to the human rights tribunal arguing that people with mental illness in prisons should not be treated by the use of segregation,” Champ said.