The Christmas Spirit: Coffee and friendship…

     Dec. 24, 2015

 Dismas House thinks coffee and friendship makes a difference…

Dismas House has eight Ontario locations since the founding 13 years ago.  Catholic Deacon Mike Walsh and Mennonite Minister Harry Nigh who is also the inspiration for the CoSA movement are ready to start the Compassionate Justice Team Training session to expand the ministry.  The sessions will start Jan 30, 2016 in Toronto and Feb. 6 in Hamilton.  For the Toronto session be in touch with Harry at; tel 416-540-4789.  For the Hamilton session, be in touch with Jim Paddon at  Link to blog at Dismas House  Video on the story of Gordie  Home page:

 Ottawa Sun – Jon Willing
Jail conditions concern Ottawa residents

The Ottawa Carleton Jail is in the news, again or still, depending on your view.  The guards are threatening strike action early in the new year and now the centre has been closed to visitors after a growing list of complaints on overcrowding, poor quality food, lack of programming and even exercise.  Related article: Ottawa Citizen – David Reevely    Ontario’s jail guards prepare for a January strike   Related article: Ottawa Citizen (Dec. 4, 2015) – Andrew Seymour   Inmates stage ‘hunger strike’ over Ottawa jail conditions    Related article:  All in the Day – CBC Ottawa   22 ways to fix the OCDC  (A 9 minute audio report from the Civilian Review (Dec 22, 2015) on the conditions at the detention centre)

CBC News
Court program for drug addicts helping mostly white males, report finds – Program to divert addicts from prison into treatment is missing target of women, aboriginals, youth

The federal court diversion program is intended to help people confronting addiction and prison time to avoid punishment and get help.  Initial reports suggest however that the program is by-passing a significant element of those implicated and catering to a largely white male population.  The Justice Canada assessment says that drug courts work and that people can and do change.  The report calls for better co-operation between the provinces and the federal justice program to better reach the optimal target group.  Related article: National Newswatch – Laura Kane   As Liberals prepare to legalize, Canadians facing pot charges left in limbo

 Globe and Mail – Ingrid Peritz
Quebec’s right-to-die law upheld by court

While the federal government puzzles over what to do with the right-to-die legislation which was struck down by the Supreme Court who obliged the feds to have an alternate solution by Feb 28, 2016, the Quebec Court and government has confirmed its new legislation and is telling its doctors and patients that the impasse with the criminal code exempts them from any possibility of prosecution under the old part of the federal law involving assisted suicide.

Mt Allison University –
Fourth-year sociology class steps out of the classroom and into Dorchester Penitentiary

Fourth year sociology students have a better idea about the impact of long term sentencing as a result of a visit to Dorchester Penitentiary in NB.  Inspired by the Sawbona transformative justice model proposed by Margot Van Sluytman, one honours student felt the visit helped considerably to sharpen her thesis focus – an understanding of the relationship between masculinity and past experiences of hardship in the lives of men serving long sentences.

CBC News – Kelly Crowe
Researcher issues ‘call to action’ to force release of hidden drug safety data – Bringing drug industry data into the light of public scrutiny 

For a long time now, drug companies have had a quite extraordinary power over the information made public around their drug products.  The problem seems compounded by internal policies in Public Health Canada.  Doctors who ask for more detailed information on a particular drug product, eventually get the information but are obliged under threat of lawsuit not to reveal the information.  Dr. Nav Persaud is a case and point and his experience has prompted health law professor Matthew Herder of Dalhousie to take up the fight.