July 18, 2017

The Walrus – Robert Clark
The Case for Prison Reform- The harsh American model has failed. Here’s how we can do better

Clark who started working in prisons at age 24 is now a 30 year veteran of prisons, the good and the bad lived experience of a lifetime immersed in a wide variety of penal contexts.  Clark notes 30 years of personal angst around the purpose for prisons and has concluded after the Harper era that “…what I’ve learned in my thirty years “down inside” is that humane treatment is the most effective way of managing a prison safely and creating conditions to rehabilitate prisoners.”

Canadian Law Times – Michael McKiernan
Focus: Prison law focuses on issues related to incarceration

“McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP partner Kevin Egan had barely even heard of prison law.”  Nor we suspect have many Canadians.  Egan’s involvement started with the death of inmate Randy Drysdale at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in 2009, at first declared a slip and fall in the shower, later determined to be a homicide by two other inmates.  Little has changed since, says Egan, who has had a lawsuit certified as class action.  Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ has drawn attention as well by winning a lawsuit around solitary confinement in the OCDC.   “It can be difficult to get the public interested when they are sort of turned off emotionally to the concerns of inmates,” Champ says “…but I think we’ve definitely reached a critical mass.”

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Canada’s prison agency to review treatment of inmates with opioid addictions

Thirty-three inmates in the CSC Pacific Region have sent a letter to Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) regarding the availability of and access to treatment within the prisons for heroin based addiction problems – opiate substitution therapy.  CSC says that there are roughly 920 inmates receiving the treatment and that there were six deaths in 2014-15.

The Tyee – Crawford Kilian
Google: Where Everybody Tells the Truth

We have long heard about ‘Big Data’ as the basis for commercial and government / military intelligence.  In this article, Killian, though he avoids succinct definition, explains exactly what Big Data is and how it is helpful when people ask Google questions and the questions themselves are analysed.  Crawford describes four powers of Big Data.  Kilian’s commentary is informed by a new book – Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

The Pew Charitable Foundation (US) – Adam Gelb and Andrew Page
Voters in Louisiana and Oklahoma Strongly Favor Alternatives to Incarceration

For advocates for prison reform, this article is somewhat startling in that one may assume, particularly in times of a strong partisan political atmosphere, that prison reform would be equally partisan.  However, this latest Pew report is suggesting that in these two states, both of which have done some examination of the prison reform issues, there appears to be continuing and majority wish for reform among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  Both these states have the top incarceration rates in the US.

Blogger Kate Raworth
For 21st century progress, pick your paradigm…

Raworth offers a compare and contrast between her Doughnut Economics and that of Branko Milanovic, a global economist as they examine the 60’s rationale for the OECD’s founding constitution and the need for and impact of a revision of the document, real or cosmetic.  The read is at least comforting to know from both sides of this contrast that income inequality has some possible resolution beyond the traditional economic arguments.

Restorative Justice on the Rise (US) – Molly Rowan Leach

The July Dialogues may have some interest for Canada as well.  On July 18, the presentation is from Troy Williams, a Black man who spent 18 years of a life sentence in San Quintin.  He and Molly Rowan Leach offer some perspective on financial and emotion literacy for parolees.  To register:  On July 25, Rose Gordon, a well-known death and dying expert, links RJ and the resiliency of it offers her expertise.  Her title is: “How Resiliency-Based Approaches, Death & Dying, and Council Process Inform Restorative Justice”   RJ on the Rise web page: