Absurdly punitive…

May 16, 2016

 Toronto Star – Editorial (May 13, 2016)
Undo Harper’s punitive pardon policy

As the Liberal government begins an assessment of the changes brought under the Conservative tough-on-crime laws, issues involved the practices around parole, including the purpose for parole, are being re-visited.  Rather than part of the punishment, the parole system is supposed to help those convicted of crime to re-integrate into their families and civil societies.  The Star applauds the review saying that “the absurdity of the Harper government’s pardon policy… It is a solution in search of a problem — one that creates its own set of injustices and policy challenges.”  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2016/05/13/undo-harpers-punitive-pardon-policy-editorial.html   Related article: Toronto Star  – Benjamin Perrin, Rick Audas and Sarah Péloquin-Ladany –  Time for triage in our ailing justice system – Let’s create a report card to find improvements   http://www.pressreader.com/canada/ottawa-citizen/20160516/281698318971191

Toronto Star – Michelle Henry and Kenyon Wallace
Restaurant owners don’t pay employees, suppliers despite ministry orders

The concerns over income inequality are real but equally so the efforts to make the current employment laws perform as mandated.  Recent stories about pay inequity based on gender, minimum wage inadequacy are re-enforced by the failure of the government’s enforcement of labour law around wages and salaries.  Over 9,300 claims against restaurants, orders issued on 2,592 but no one knows the compliance rate.  The Ministry of Finance is the collection agency but is unable to break down the stats by type of business and brags only an overall 29% success rate.  https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2016/05/16/restaurant-owners-dont-pay-employees-suppliers-despite-ministry-orders.html

Ottawa Citizen – Shannon Gormley
Canada, stop jailing innocent migrants. Just stop. It’s not hard.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell:  “It (Canada) held 7,300 people in 2013 and 8,500 in 2014, on average for a few weeks. It can jail a child. It can jail her for as long as it likes. It decrees that under certain circumstances, it must jail her. And, in a fun twist on an old standard, it need not recognize her as “innocent until proven guilty” — she is charged with no crime, after all — but can force her to prove that she deserves to be released from her cell…  It should stop doing that. Just stop it. Knock it off. It’s so easy.”  http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/gormley-canada-stop-jailing-innocent-migrants-just-stop-its-not-hard

Justice Policy Institute – No youth in Prison (US)
Prevention and Rehabilitation

For a long time, we may have been asking the wrong questions about crime and especially about youth crime.  This twitter feed reported survey has been asking whether the respondents favour prevention and rehab or punishment and incarceration.  Not surprisingly, the overwhelmingly common sense answer – graphically displayed – is prevention and rehab.  https://twitter.com/JusticePolicy/status/731884884428488705?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email   Web page for Justice Policy Institute:  http://www.justicepolicy.org/index.html  (Material also on solitary for youth)

Globe and Mail – Daniel Leblanc
Liberal bill seeks to safeguard Canadian transgender community

Trudeau will use the platform of an award for his persistence in gender rights to announce a new bill protecting the transgendered human rights against gender discrimination.  The proposed bill will add “gender identity” to list of those rights protected under Human Rights.  The Bill and the protection have been proposed in the House several times already but defeated by the Conservatives. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/liberal-bill-seeks-to-safeguard-canadian-transgender-community/article30028760/    Related article: CTV News – Dario Balca   Protesters clash in Alberta over transgender rights bill   http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/protesters-clash-in-alberta-over-transgender-rights-bill-1.2902894   

CBC News – Catherine Cullen
MPs open up about personal struggles with assisted dying bill – Government’s physician-assisted dying bill has struck a personal nerve for many politicians

The fate of C-15, the doctor assisted dying bill, has already struggle and MP have the freedom to vote conscience on the bill.  That freedom is not making the choice any easier for a deeply personal and intense issue for many MP’s, regardless of political affiliation.  MPs Vaughn, Ouelette, Rempel, Virani, Cooper, Cullen and Angus all have their say.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/assisted-dying-mps-personal-1.3576980

The Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten
Ontario trades cheques for debit cards for disabled people on welfare

Poor people, and especially those with disabilities, have often been victimized by the lack of a bank account for transactions around cheque cashing.  This change is supposed to address the attendant problems.  The card will be re-loadable and will be able to be used at cash machines and for internet use.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/05/16/ontario-trades-cheques-for-debit-cards-for-disabled-people-on-welfare.html

ThinkProgress (US) – Adam Zielinski
One Way to Help People Stay Out Of Jail? Sign Them Up For Health Insurance.

The experience suggests that inmates who have health issues, especially mental health issues, who leave prison poor and without access to medical care are shortly going to re-appear at the prison door.  Estimates are that at least half the inmates have a mental health issue and about 65% have an addiction problem.  These inmates also have 12 times the normal rate risk of dying the first two weeks after release, the leading cause of which is a lack of access to medical care.  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2016/05/16/3777683/medicaid-coverage-former-prisoners/