Sept 27, 2017

Fordham Law News (US) – John Pfaff
A Better Approach to Violent Crime

Pfaff begins his commentary with the frightful enumeration of the current mass incarceration circumstances.  The US imprisonment rate is 370% higher than the UK and 800% higher than Germany.  “The good news is that a growing number of proven tactics can keep violent crime low, and perhaps reduce it even further, without relying as much on prison. If governments lock up fewer people for violent crimes, they can use some of the savings to help fund these alternatives.”   Pfaff offers “focus deterrence” from Boston in the mid 90’s, “cure violence” from New York and Chicago. “hot-spotting policing” and cognitive behavioural therapy with mentoring.

Canadian Press
UN report on Canada to address anti-Black racism

A UN working group visited four Canadian cities and offer this report on anti-Black racism in Canada.  They say racism is at the core of many institutions.  Consequent to their October 2016 mission to Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal, the officials wrote:  “History informs anti-black racism and racial stereotypes that are so deeply entrenched in institutions, policies and practices, that its institutional and systemic forms are either functionally normalized or rendered invisible, especially to the dominant group.”  The working group singled out Nova Scotia for special consideration.   The final report of the working group will be submitted to the Human Rights Council   shortly.   Related article:  Prison Reform Trust (UK) The Lammy Review – An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System  (A 107 page downloadable pdf)   Related article:  Toronto Star – Fatima Syed     Human Rights Commission calls on province to end segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilities

The Nation (US) – Lilianna Segura
With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business – Meet the corporations who are profiting off our prison system.

Here’s an interesting commentary on profiteering from misery, and perhaps even helping to create that misery.  Very expensive telephone calls, deplorable and inhuman conditions, a lack of medical services, a lack of any sort of transparency, lobbying by the private prison companies for harsher sentences. (When controversy arises around a particular company, the company will often resort to a name change: CoreCivic (Formerly Corrections Corporation of America.))    The link includes articles about related prison policies and experiences, including bail.   Related article: Right / Truth Out – Brian Dolinar    Profiting Off Mass Incarceration: Detroit Pistons Owner Buys Private Prison Phone Company   Related article: California Coalition for Women Prisoners:  Drop LWOP! Letter to Governor Brown

 International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
New Ministerial Direction falls short on fulfilling goal of preventing the sharing, requesting or use of information tied to torture

Remember when the RCMP provided information about Maher Arar to the US who in turn gave it to Syria that led to his arrest torture in Syria?  In the final analysis, the Canadian government settled for $11.5 million for complicity in torture.  Now the torture issue is back on our plate.  Canada’s directives around sharing information that may revert to torture support do not go far enough says ICLMG Executive Director Tim McSorley.  “No torture.  No exceptions.”

Government of Scotland
A Nation with Ambition: The Government’s programme for Scotland 2017-2018

The link is for a statement of government policy that is bringing attention throughout the UK to a much neglected aspect of overcrowded jails and criminal justice.  The 107 page document – a social plan for the coming year – has an executive summary on p. 8ff.  The thrust raises the age for criminality from 8 years to twelve and also insists that short sentences – meaning less than a year – are more likely detrimental than helpful. (cf p. 15ff)  The document is worth a read from the perspective of the social context and the government role of services to the community.,56RIN,6JSCMH,JY7J1,1#page=16   Related article: Centre for Justice Innovation (UK)  Problem-solving in Scotland: New developments   Related article: Blogger Russell Webster Three examples of problem-solving courts

Toronto Star – Brendan Kennedy
Immigration detainee who has spent four years in jail says detention violates Canada’s charter of rights

How does a failed refugee wind up four years in jail without any criminal conviction?  The answer is that he has no country willing to accept him as a citizen and to issue a passport so he can be deported.  Several similar cases are now before the courts and increasingly the courts are saying that the jailing of such persons is not acceptable.  Ebrahim Toure, who can’t prove that he is from Gambia or Guinea, is left appealing on the basis of the Charter and is resorting to a writ of habeas corpus.  Most such individuals are kept in custody because they are deemed a flight risk, not a dangerous person.