May 5, 2016 

Ottawa Citizen – Editorial (May 3, 2016)
Brampton drinking and driving ruling may have wide implications

A Brampton, Ontario, judge has ruled that the breathalyzers, which measure blood alcohol levels and are used by police forces across the country, may not offer accurate results, according to the expert.  Ben Joseph, a former employee of the Centre for Forensic Science, testified that two issues challenge the accuracy: a gap in the maintenance records of the device, and the statistical accuracy of the data used for standards in the machine.  The judge threw out the drunk driving charge and has consequently put in doubt a lot of past convictions based on this device.

Retro Report – N.Y. Times (US)
Welfare and the Politics Poverty

A 13 minute video report on the 70’s and what followed in the realm of politics around welfare and welfare reform, the tension between deserving and undeserving poor, the economic climate then and now; video includes the alternative programs which took the money away from welfare and enormously increased the number of poor people, imposing time limits, and reducing the program to help them get over temporary setbacks.    Related article: Huffington Post (US) – Andrea Levere     A Year After Baltimore Protests, Racial Wealth Gap Remains at the Core of Economic Frustration

Tampa Bay Times – Stephen Bousquet
Three former Florida Supreme Court chief justices urge court to overturn hundreds of death sentences

Capital punishment in Florida is again under attack, this time by three former state Supreme Court justices who want all 390 inmates on various death rows commuted to life in prison.  They argue that when the US Supreme Court invalidated the means of execution the Supreme Court also invalidated the sentence of death.  A state law from 1972 seems to uphold their opinion.

Global News – Anna Mehler Paperny and Patrick Cain
A severely sick man spent 400 days in solitary. This isn’t an anomaly: In Canada, it’s common

Bizarre!  Behaviour, that is.  A man under detention by the Canada Border Services Agency was held in the Toronto East Detention Centre and was put in solitary for bizarre behaviour.  He spent 390 more days in solitary, even though he and the reason for his solitary was supposed to be re-evaluated every five days.

PBS Newshour (US) – Judy Woodruff
An inside look at the Obama administration’s criminal justice reforms

A seven minute PBS broadcast on the April 28 on Criminal Reform Bill, a bipartisan effort to reduce the mass incarceration and other inequities of the justice system and social services for ex-inmates.  The Bill, announced by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, seeks to address the sentencing guidelines and re-entry services.  The reform includes concerns around mental health issues as well, seeking to divert before arrest.   (Transcript included at link.)   Related article: Washington Post – Mike DeBonis    Congress is closer than ever to easing sentences for drug offenders   Related article: National Newswatch – Lisa Leff, Associated Press   Pot legalization backers kick off California campaign

Quakers Fostering Justice Committee

The link below is to a new site offering a diversity of information around secondary victims of crime – the families and children of people in jail.  In addition there are a number of articles on youth justice and a listing of coming events.  The Quaker Committee is inviting subscriptions to their newsletter as well.    Subscriptions:  Tasmin Rajotte   

CBC News – Peter Zimonjic
MPs vote 235 to 75 to send assisted-dying bill to Commons committee – House of Commons and Senate studying proposed legislation with goal of making it law by June 6

The June 6 deadline imposed in an extension of the time line by the Supreme Court is creating some problems for the Liberal government who are now accused of limiting debate on the bill.  With just a month to the deadline, the government has passed the bill to committee and will likely see a firestorm as the deadline approaches.   The decision to pass the Bill to committee really means that the bill is moving towards the amendment stage and then it will be returned to the Commons for third reading.  Related article: Huffington Post – Ryan Maloney   Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Liberal MP, Votes Against Motion To Shut Down Assisted Dying Debate   Related article: National Newswatch – Will Leroy   Government sparks furor after cutting short debate on assisted dying bill