Three strikes?

Aug 8, 2017

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Ontario’s top court orders third trial in teardrop tattoo murder case

In a most unusual move, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered a third trial for murder in the “Tear-drop” case for Warren Nigel Abbey, after the first trial acquitted him and the second with expert testimony found him guilty.  What is at issue is the quality of the testimony of gang expert witness sociologist Mark Totten whose testimony secured the conviction but was found by the Appellate Court to be lacking in accuracy and reliability. The crime occurred in 2004 and Abbey has been in prison since the 2011 conviction.

Toronto Star – Sarah Shartal
A perfect storm: homelessness, mental health, criminal law and no shelter beds

How much homelessness is there in Toronto compared to shelter beds?  Enough, says lawyer Shartal, that there is no room in any of the warehousing facilities so they are staying in jail.  Many of the clients are on Ontario Disability:  most are poor, demoralized and living with mental health problems and addictions.  The problem is adding to the delay in courts, and adding to diminishing availability of legal aid after cutbacks.  Shartal is calling for Regina’s solution of housing first, not more warehousing.

Prison Policy Initiative (US) – Bernadette Rabuy and Peter Wagner
Screening Out Family Time: The for-profit video visitation industry in prisons and jails

We have already seen issues around the huge profitability of telephone costs for inmates and families.  We have also seen some conversation about the personal use of technology by inmates for social and educational ends.  Now here is a story about the use of video technology which also regulates the potential for the human touch among inmates, in spite of all the evidence of the importance of family contact in the rehabilitative process.

A Series of US articles around prison practices…

Salon (US) – Stephen Rosenfeld   Private prison demands New Mexico and feds find 300 more prisoners in 60 days or it will close   Related article: (US) – Caitlin Schmidt Arizona Daily Star    Study: Arizona spends $600K a day to house drug offenders in prison    Related article:  N.Y. Times (US) – Timothy Williams   Opioid Users Are Filling Jails. Why Don’t Jails Treat Them?

Citizen Times (Arizona) -Bill Walz
Now more than ever, we need peace warriors

The guest columnist is a retired mental health worker who encountered RJ early in life and now voices disquiet that its lessons are hard to learn and to pass on.  He equates Martin Luther King’s notion of a “peace warrior” with RJ and invites us to consider the alternatives in this perspective:  “The peace-warrior is a Native-American concept. It is the individual of moral and sometimes physical strength who stands against fear and violence with the power of their love and non-violence.”

CBC News – Karissa Donkin
Video of fatal police shooting should be made public, commissioner says – Public interest trumps privacy, Anne Bertrand says in calling for release of video from Rothesay shooting

The New Brunswick ruling by its privacy commission, Anne Bertrand, may have implications for other provinces as well.  The case involved a shooting of William David McCaffrey by the Rothesay police and the recording of the shooting by a police chest camera.  “Releasing the videotape, Bertrand wrote, is the “right thing to do” for the public to understand the decision to use fatal force.”  The decision is not binding on the police who are seeking legal advice.    Related article: CTV News   Toronto police officer buys would-be thief the outfit he was trying to steal

The BC Tyee – Katie Hyslop
First Nations Still Vastly Overrepresented in BC Overdose Deaths – New data shows they’re four times as likely to overdose as non-First Nations drug users.

First Nations Health Authority spokesperson and chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald says that Indigenous people while “only 3.4% of the BC population make up 14 per cent of overdoses from Jan. 31, 2015, to Nov. 30, 2016, and 10 per cent of all overdose deaths from Jan. 31, 2015, to July 31, 2016.”    1700 people have died of overdose since January 2016.

CBC News – Canadian Press
Americans crossing into Canada carrying guns with ‘alarming frequency’

There have been six offences thus far this summer at NB border crossing points.  Most offenders are seniors who apparently do not know and ignore warning signs on approaching the crossing point that handguns are illegal in Canada.  The usual fine is $1000-1500.  In total, nationally in 2015, CBSA seized  671 firearms, 313 prohibited weapons in Canada.