6 years…

Sept 20, 2017

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Police tribunal puts spotlight on Black teen’s interaction with officer in cruiser

Justice, even inquiry, seems to come slowly for some.  This case dates from November 2011 in which a group of four Black teenagers, now known as the Neptune Four,  were stopped and arrested by two former members of the now disbanded TAVIS unit.  Police misconduct stemming from the arrests is just now getting attention under the Ontario Police Services Act.  The two constables are accused of false arrest.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/09/19/police-tribunal-puts-spotlight-on-black-teens-interaction-with-officer-in-cruiser.html

Toronto Star – Canadian Press
14 charged in deadly Saskatchewan prison riot

The riot at the Prince Albert (SK) Penitentiary, in December 2016, took the life of one inmate and two others were injured.  Six others were injured when police stormed the prison.  Fourteen have now been charged with offences.   The riot apparently started from complaints about quality and quantity of food, a problem CSC says that has now been addressed.  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/09/19/14-charged-in-deadly-saskatchewan-prison-riot.html

Toronto Star Editorial (Sept 20, 2017)
Rise in food-bank use points to need for housing benefit

The Star Editorial board is making a connection between the high cost of housing and utilities, and the lack of income for food leading to a growing dependence on food banks.  “The average food-bank client spent almost 70 per cent of their total monthly income on rent and utilities, after which they had just $7.33 a day left over to eat, clothe themselves and get around the city.”  The Star thinks the federal government needs to create a national housing benefit.   https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2017/09/19/rise-in-food-bank-use-points-to-need-for-housing-benefit-editorial.html   Related article: Global News – Jordan Press   Liberals poised to make housing a right in new homelessness strategy   https://globalnews.ca/news/3754727/housing-strategy-homelessness/

Global TV
Ontario college to offer 1st post-secondary certificate in marijuana production

The older generation may well have concluded that public mores have gone to the dogs when a person can get a college degree in growing the dreaded marijuana.  Niagara College is the first and fastest to invite Canadians to learn how to grow and market correctly.  “Niagara College says the graduate certificate program will launch in the fall of 2018 and aims to prepare students to work in the licensed production of cannabis, which includes marijuana, hemp fibre and hemp seed.”  The post-graduate program is a one year certificate, available in fall 2018, and approved by Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.  https://globalnews.ca/news/3756356/ontario-college-marijuana-production/ Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Gary Dimmock   Ottawa jail catches drug-smuggler with 8 Kinder Surprise eggs in his rectum  http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/0920-kinder

N.Y. Times – Shaila Dewan
Private Probation Company Accused of Abuses in Tennessee

This is an interesting article that very much forms part of the mass incarceration problem in the US.  A private corporation Providence Community Corrections was awarded a contract by Rutherford Country, Tennessee, to handle non-felony parole and probation matters.  As individuals approached the termination date, the corporation charged fees beyond the court approved costs and prolonged the period under supervision.  The court settled the lawsuit with a $14 million settlement that gave the victims 125% of the fees they had paid.  Harvard Fair Punishment newsletter summarized:  “As part of the settlement, the county agreed that: 1) it will no longer contract with private probation companies; 2) it will waive misdemeanor fines and fees for defendants who ask those costs to be waived and who earn less than 125% of the federal poverty line; and 3) it will cease placing individuals on probation, or extending probation, for failure to pay court costs.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/us/private-probation-company-accused-of-abuses-in-tennessee.html

VERA Institute of Justice – Insha Rahman
Against the Odds: Experimenting with Alternative Forms of Bail in New York City’s Criminal Courts (September 2017)

This VERA study took 99 cases involving bail and discover that the rates for bail were too high and that the majority preferred remaining in jail rather than putting up even a $1,000 or $5,000.  There are unused alternatives available.   “Under New York law, the use of bail doesn’t have to be this onerous. Judges may opt to set bail from nine forms, including bail that requires a deposit of no more than 10 percent of the total amount, or bail that requires no upfront payment at all. Although these “alternative” forms of bail—known as partially secured and unsecured bonds, respectively—have been available for decades, they remain underutilized in the courts, where judges traditionally set bail in the form of cash or an insurance company bail bond.”  (A 36 page downloadable pdf with an executive summary on p. 2f)    https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/against-the-odds-bail-reform-new-york-city-criminal-courts/legacy_downloads/Against_the_Odds_Bail_report_FINAL3.pdf   Related article: Washington Post Editorial Board (Sept 9, 2017)  Fixing the unfair bail system is worth the costs   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fixing-the-unfair-bail-system-is-worth-the-costs/2017/09/09/ff3c5c4c-73eb-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.9395ecbe00a4   (Ed note:  DC has no cash bail system and refutes the argument that one is needed.)