US bail and remand…

Nov 2, 2017

(Ed Note:  This past week the communiqué has experienced a hardware glitch that ultimately required an extensive amount of revision of the lists of recipients.  We had a problem with some recipients getting more than one copy of the e-mail and we have had to do extensive revamping.  We think the problem is solved now and we offer both this delayed edition from Nov. 2 and our apologies for any inconvenience.  Please let us know if there is any mishap from this point forward of if there is any error.  Thanks for both your patience and your support.)

Vera Institute of Justice (US)
Ending Mass Incarceration

A new focus by Vera publications is the commentary on mass incarceration where the local jail is proposed as the front door to the prison and to mass incarceration problems.  (In the US 2.3 million are incarceration and with 5% of the world’s population the number represents 25% of the world’s prisoners.)  These local jails hold as much as almost 70% people who are not convicted but also not able to get bail, particularly a cash bail.     cf also   (The link provides a number of other aspects of mass incarceration such as reducing the use of jails, establishing a life of dignity behind bars, providing second chances, and the scope of the problem.) Related article:  Vera Institute / Rewire – Kim Bellware  The Largest Jail in the Country Is Leading an Effort to Reduce the Number of Births Behind Bars  Related article: Pre-Trial Justice Institute (US) – Cherise Fanno Burdeen (CEO)  The State of Pretrial Justice in America  November 2017   (The article includes info about states who are at the forefront of addressing the bail and remand issues.  What is noteworthy is that as the bail practices lead to release, not custody, the crime rates go down.)  Related article: The Sentencing Project (US) – Felony Disenfranchisement  (The voting disenfranchisement, in which Black and poor people appear most frequently, is an example of punishment upon punishment under felony law.  There are also often restrictions from public housing and exclusion from welfare.  Scroll down the link for the personal story of Kimberly Haven.)

 Vera Institute of Justice (US) – Hayne Yoon
To End Opioid Crisis, We Must Rely on More than “Just Say No”

The US has federally declared a national public health emergency which recognizes a growing and serious problem in opioid deaths and addiction but falls short of any new funding for the problem.  The problem now is about 100 deaths a day and over 33,000 per year with the state of West Virginia in top spot.  Yoon looks at what other steps are needed in the light of the glaring need.   Related article: CBC News – Sherri Borden Colley   Cape Breton doctors unwilling to accept patients who need methadone – ‘Stigma plays a role in all of this,’ says Sharon MacKenzie, head of mental health and addictions   Related article: The Pew Charitable Foundation – Treating the Opioid Epidemic   (A 23 minutes audio podcast; there are a number of other opioid topics also available.)

National Newswatch / The Conversation – Nadia Naffi
The Trump effect in Canada: A 600 per cent increase in online hate speech

Over the period of the recent welcoming of Syrian refugees, media marketing company Cision has documented a 600% increase in online hate messages.  The problem gets an international flavour in this article from Naffi who is in the Education and Technology sector of the Concordia Education faculty.  The research included how a representative group of youth dealt with the issue.

Globe and Mail – Julie Macfarlane
Millard’s self-representation in murder trial an example of growing crisis

Millard is the accused in a murder case who cross-examine both the father and the boyfriend of the victim.  Macfarlane is project director, National Self-Represented Litigants Project, and professor of law, University of Windsor and uses the case and the distasteful scene to raise an issue around the increasing numbers of people self-representing themselves in courtrooms.  How widespread is the problem:  “More than 50 per cent of those appearing in family court (and up to 80 per cent in some downtown Toronto courts) are coming without a lawyer. In civil and appeal courts, the numbers are creeping up above 30 per cent.”  MacFarlane is project director, National Self-Represented Litigants Project, and professor of law, University of Windsor.

The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, –  Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner
Criminological Highlights

Following the usual format, the Newsletter brings a number of diverse issue under scrutiny.  This issue of Criminological Highlights addresses the following questions:

How can school policies affect crime? Why do Black Americans have less confidence in the police than White Americans?  What kinds of jobs will reduce offending among those who have been involved in crime?  How do courts punish those who have not been found guilty?  Does what men look like affect the sentences they receive?  What are the challenges facing First Nations police services in Canada?  Do drug courts encourage police to charge minor drug offenders?  Why does the incarceration of parents lead, eventually, to lower earnings for their children?

(Readers may prefer to receive the Highlights directly and the editors are happy to add to their distribution list.  Send an e-mail to Tony at or Rosemary at

CBC News (Edmonton) – Marion Warnica
Prison guards accused of using inmates as weapons to cover up alleged sexual harassment – Officials suspend at least 7 people without pay amid investigation

Earlier reports last week of unrest and panic in the Edmonton Institution among the women inmates seems to have been well founded.  Seven employees have been suspended without pay, the suspensions linked “to allegations of sexual assault, assault, harassment and employee misconduct.” The Edmonton police are investigating.   Related article (June 2017)  CBC News –   Marion Warnica  Edmonton Institution runs on ‘culture of fear’ and intimidation, report finds – Toxicity in the federal prison was so prolific that investigators compared it to 1950s movie The Blob

Halifax Examiner
A prisoner on prisons: “Habeas Corpus in a Nutshell”

This link brings you to the Oct. 17, 2017 edition of The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons.  The articles and the links provided, titled “Dialogue on Canada’s Federal Penitentiary System and the Need for Change,” offer a look at conditions inside Canada’s penitentiaries and prisons.  On the question of reform, the various authors have identified a bountiful harvest for consideration:  “justice, employment issues, programs and education, food and nutrition, visits and correspondence, reintegration and parole, media and communications, a focus on punishment, health and dental care, and mental health care” as key areas of reform.   Related article: CBC News – Joe Lofaro   Ontario issues new bail policy to ease strain on jails – Release low-risk offenders into community, ensure conditions ‘realistic,’ prosecutors told

Globe and Mail – Eric Andrew-Gee
One in five sexual-assault cases go to court, study finds

The article reports on the stats involved in sexual assaults – how many get reported, how many result in charges, convictions, and the impact on the women.  The article is based on a report compiled by Stats Can.  Related article: APTN National News Kathleen Martens   It’s another ‘Pickton’: Police digging up farm in British Columbia