Get it right…

April 23, 2017

(Ed Note: Last edition gave an incorrect title for the report from the Ontario Ombudsman on police oversight: the correct title is “Out of oversight, out of mind.”  You can find the 73 page downloadable pdf at:  Sorry for any wasted time…)

Amnesty International (Canada)
A Year to get it right:  Amnesty Internationals’ 2017 Human Rights Agenda for Canada

AI invites Canadians to set a human rights agenda for the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.  The agenda includes Children’s Indigenous rights, gender equality, refugee rights, economic rights, national security, and Canada’s presence in the international rights scene.  (A 43 page annual report in pdf format)

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Ontario faces lawsuit over solitary-confinement practices

The $600 million lawsuit’s lead plaintiff Conrey Francis was first placed in solitary in 1985.  The lawsuit was filed the same day that Paul Dubé issued the report on the underlying rights violations for the mentally ill.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of mentally ill inmates who have served time in solitary confinement, frequently in conflict with norms of international rights groups like the United Nations.  “There have been countless lives negatively impacted and/or ruined by this practice,” said James Sayce, a lawyer for Koskie Minsky LLP.   Given the number of lawsuits over solitary across the country, this one is not expected to have immediately results.

Ottawa Citizen – David Booth
 Women may still be in the minority when it comes to drinking and driving, but the incidence of their being charged with DUI offences is escalating

Booth, based on US stats, reports that the young, single men once seen as the focus of the anti-drinking and driving efforts are beginning to take notice of the enforcement, witness the reduced incidents.  But, say the experts, there is an alarming growth in the number of women charged with driving under the influence (DUI).  Unfortunately, the experience is appearing throughout North America and internationally.  Some think that binge drinking among your women is contributing.

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Police to get sweeping authority in impaired driving overhaul

Tied to the question of how to enforce driving while under the influence of marijuana, the revision of the impaired driving will give police the right to stop any vehicle without reasonable cause or suspicion and to demand a breathalyzer sample.  Critics say the authority will certainly be challenged in court as improper and lacking in protection against unreasonable search and seizure.  At the same time, it appears that police will still need reasonable suspicion for testing around the proposed marijuana law.  Related article: Toronto Star – Jim Rankin and Wendy Gillis    Ontario police forces share carding data with Mounties, CSIS

Los Angeles Times – Jazmine Ulloa
‘I took someone’s life — now I am giving back’: In California’s prisons, inmates teach each other how to start over

Here’s the skinny:  “State spending on prison rehabilitation programs — part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget, which is mostly supported by the state’s general fund — has steadily grown over the last five fiscal years, from roughly $355 million in 2012 to nearly $482 million in 2016. Corrections officials say it’s producing positive outcomes. A 2016 state report found that the total three-year recidivism rate for all California felons — percentage of those who re-offend three years after their release — dropped to 44.6% from a peak of 67.5% in fiscal year 2010.”   Gov. Jerry Brown has billed it as a thoughtful response to prison overcrowding and anticipates releasing over 9,500 inmates over the next four years.   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (April 23, 2017) Ottawa should fix perversely punitive pardon policy

CBC News – Kathleen Harris

Transgender inmate hopes to make history with transfer to women’s prison – Fallon Aubee says she has faced discrimination, abuse behind bars

Aubee is serving a life sentence in the Mission Institution (BC) for a gang contract killing in 2003.  She has complained of mistreatment and abuse as well as threats of all sorts.  She is the first to request placement according to gender identity rather than biological sex at birth and spent the first six months in segregation.  Corrections Canada recently reversed its policy following some comments by Prime Minister Trudeau and now professes to work on a case by case basis.   It is not known how many such cases there may be system wide.