Feb. 5, 2018

MacLean’s – Anthony M. Davis
Where criminology students study side-by-side with prisoners

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) (BC) has been engaged in a novel approach to corrections since 2011 called Inside-Out Prisoner Exchange Program.  Students in KPU’s criminology studies go twice a month for classes with residents of a minimum security prison who are also studying criminology as well.  The approach breaks down all the stereotypes of who is a criminal.  Brought to Canada by Wade Deisman, associate dean of arts at KPU, from Temple University in Philadelphia, Deisman says:   “Both they (students) and residents discover “a kind of common humanity,” Deisman  says. “I know that sounds touchy-feely, or cheesy. But, believe me, when you are there, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s sometimes jarring. But it’s so powerful that the effects are undeniable.”

Police and Crime Commissions/ Revolving Doors Agency / Transition to Adults (UK) – Emma Casey
Spotlight on Young Adults: Emerging good practice across PCC areas on Young Adults (18-24) in contact with criminal justice services

The UK has been looking to see how police and crime commissions could influence crime by a focus on 18-25 year olds, the group most likely to be both victims and offenders in crime and also most likely to be ‘revolving door’ contacts with police.  The eleven page report traces the development of workable approaches and successes across the various jurisdictions.

CBC News – Dean Beeby
RCMP backlogged with access-to-information requests from its own staff – Force ends policy that requires officers use the Access to Information Act to see their personnel files

The RCMP have been flooded with access to information (ATI) requests for members to see their own personnel files that they have now abandoned the policy of getting the files through ATI.  The backlog is now around 3,250 requests unanswered according to legislative norms.  The solution? The members will no longer have to go through ACI to get their personnel and medical records.

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Summer jobs program deadline extended as religious backlash grows – Applicants will still be required to sign attestation clause on abortion, LGBT rights

Some backlash against the federal government’s insistence that to qualify for student jobs funds religiously affiliated groups will have to assert “attestation clauses for abortion and LGBT rights, so far, has not deterred the government; they have extended the deadline for applications by one week but the policy remains conditional to receiving student summer jobs funds. Some critics are saying that besides objections from religious groups some municipalities are also resisting the attestation.

Campus Safety (US)
Brown University Implements Restorative Justice Program – Restorative justice methods can only be used if both parties involved have consented and the offender has admitted their guilt.

Brown University is in Rhode Island and Kirsten Wolfe, the assistant dean of student conduct and community standards at Brown, says in the traditional justice system, the objective is to determine “which policies are broken, who did it and what they deserve.” Restorative justice instead places emphases on helping the harmed parties reach a resolution.  At this point, the RJ approach must be for less serious offences to which the offender admits, and requires the consent of both victim and offender.  It also leaves the possibility for recourse to a higher tier if the offense could involve suspension.  The RJ approach does not apply to Title IX offenses such as sexual assault.

Crime Prevention (Ottawa)
Launch of Social Media Fortune Teller to Mark Safer Internet Day

The use of social media by children has been a prominent part of parental concern for quite some time but without much help in anticipating the confronting the pitfalls.  This “social media cootie catcher” is intended for 8-12 year olds and is an interactive game; the game itself and a tips sheet for playing is sponsored by Canadian Centre for Child Protection and is available through the link.   Cf also Canadian Centre for Child Protection

USA Today / Democrat and Chronicler – Jon Campbell
New York inmates to get free tablet computers

The new tablet program, which will grant prisoners access to e-books, music and a supervised e-mail program has been already demonstrated as helpful to education and rehab.  The plan is tax payer free, and inmate cost free, since a company in Florida called JPay is underwriting the costs.  The device will have certain pre-loaded materials and inmates will be able to buy additional apps such as music.  There will be, as yet, undisclosed fees for apps and e-mail services.  The tablets will also allow inmates to file grievances but will not allow client/attorney confidentiality.   Clarifications around the Tablet Program by New York State:   Related article: Prison Policy Initiative (US) Stephen Raher   You’ve Got Mail: The promise of cyber communication in prisons and the need for regulation  (A helpful clarification of terms an operations)

In Justice Today – Harvard University – Shon Hopwood
The Misguided Call for Harsher Punishments at the Heart of the Judge Persky Recall Effort

Persky sentence convicted rapist Brock Turner to six months and prompted a recall effort.  Hopwood looks at the sentence, argues about the effect of deterrence in sentencing (the new watchword for US AG Jeff Sessions) and interprets the impact in the justice community of a successful recall.  The recall does not address the notion that Turner is white, privileged but that the sentence was too lenient.  Says Hopwood:   “We tend to measure punishment solely by the length of incarceration, and calls for harsher sentencing are rarely accompanied by an appreciation of the full punishment actually imposed.”