The politics of prison?

Mar 17, 2017

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Federal prisons have become less deadly, crowded under Liberals, numbers show

The criminal justice crowd are frankly puzzled.  In the year since Trudeau’s liberals have taken power, the signs of danger and risk in the nation’s federal prisons have statistically improved for the better.  Yet, the government has not made any changes. “It’s quite impressive that, despite the fact there’s been no legislative changes, no regulatory changes, no injection of new money in corrections, the same commissioner, that we’ve seen a significant improvement in a number of performance indicators in health in prisons,” said federal correctional ombudsman Ivan Zinger.

London School of Economics –  Tim Besley, Olle Folke, Torsten Persson and Johanna Rickne
Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man

One of the counter-arguments to the use of quotas as a means of raising the gender participation in government and business appears to have suffered a serious setback.  This study, from Sweden, says that when quotas are used, the new women replace mediocre men and improve the quality of leadership.

CTV News – Don Martin
Mexicans deported from U.S. planning to come to Canada

According to Martin, the signs are there.  Mexicans who are illegals in the US are looking to pre-empt US deportation and take advantage of the no-visa needed Canadian border agreements with Mexico, now just four months old.  Canadian refugee authorities are anticipating doubling the work load and are looking to additional federal funds to cope.

Policy Options – Anita Khanna, Karen Duncan, Martha Friendly, Sid Frankel
The real cost of raising children

Government talk about helping families with the cost of raising children may be somewhat elusive given that we do not know how much it costs to raise a child.  The authors argue that some estimate is necessary to assess both the campaign promises and the anticipated changes in the child benefits under employment insurance.  Other government policies are also implicated but the cost is often complicated by other factors as well, such as lifestyle.  Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (March 16, 2017)    Increase funding for a national child care program   Globe and Mail – Jordan Press and Joanna Smith     With budget looming, federal government sparks child care talks with provinces

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Federal prosecutors defend use of cruel, unusual punishment

There is a mandatory victim surcharge on all criminal convictions.  The issue in dispute is whether such a surcharge is “cruel and unusual” for a person who cannot pay.  Judges have been creatively rebellious and imposed 99 years to pay or 30 cent fines.  The Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is largely independent of the Attorney General, argues for retaining the mandatory charge.

US Bureau of Justice Statistics Updated with 2015 stats:
Globe and Mail – Jeff Gray
Toronto health officials recommend prescribing heroin to opioid addicts

In response to the growing number of deaths from opioid addiction – street heroin laced with fentanyl – Toronto’s Public Health Doctors are recommending prescriptions for heroin as a measure to control the rash of deaths.  Known as supervised heroin therapy, the method is has been tried elsewhere.  The Toronto plan, if accepted, will include training for front line contacts as well.