Secondary punishment…

Feb. 7, 2018

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Highlighting the damage done by maternal imprisonment – Safeguarding children when sentencing parents – 17,000 children affected a year

For a long time many have been stuck in the notion of punishment as the only viable response to crime, and imprisonment as the only way to punish.  This report looks at the secondary punishment invoked when mothers are sentenced to jail, particularly those given short sentences.  Women prisoners tend to be poor, involved in minor crime, and from minority groups but also tend to have custody of children who are then placed in state custody, a problem also common among Aboriginal women in Canada.  (Link includes an 11 minute video on the implications for children and the scope of the problem.)    Related article: ACLU (US) Jason Hernandez  A Longer Than Life Sentence   Related article: Coalition for Juvenile Justice (US) – Youth in Adult Prisons: Fact Sheet  Link to Coalition for Juvenile Justice   Related article: Tampa Bay Times (US) – Steve Bousquet   Judge strikes down Florida’s system for restoring felons’ voting rights

 Globe and Mail – Editorial
It’s time to let Indigenous communities manage native child welfare

The suggestion has been floating around all the issues concerning Indigenous child care.  This editorial asserts that the failures at all levels of government demands we recognize “a humanitarian catastrophe,”  says Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott. “…the deliberate destruction of Indigenous families that occurred under the residential school system is being repeated, only this time to protect children from the poverty and social dysfunction that was wrought by the residential schools, and by Ottawa’s poor administration of Indigenous services. It’s a vicious circle that has to end.”

New York Times (US) – Timothy Williams
In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat

Readers may recall the issues around policing recently in Baltimore and the heavy racial overtones around the confrontation between police and community.  This article, and the related one below, may help to explain the basis for the distrust between police and community.  Related article:  NBC (Chicago) – Phil Rogers   More Cops, Former Defendants in ‘Code of Silence’ Scandal

The Guardian (UK) – US Desk – John J. Lennon
For prisoners like me, books are a lifeline. Don’t cut it

Lennon is serving 28 years to life but he is also a contributor to the Marshall Project.  He exposes the problems around getting reading material inside the prison (currently Sing Sing, NY), telling what he had to do to get a copy of Barry Stevenson’s Just Mercy.   (The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is actually on a list of prohibited books.)  There are, of course, some security concerns around packages from outside, but there is also an explicit denial of the value of education in rehabilitation.  Cf also N.Y. Times – Jonah Engel Bromwich   Why Are American Prisons So Afraid of This Book?

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
 The World’s Most Overcrowded Prison Systems

We have heard constantly about the need for prison reform prompted by dangerous overcrowding and costs.  Webster offers a world-wide view of the extent of overcrowding in prisons by using a data measure known as certified normal accommodation or CNA.  Haiti leads the list at 454% above the CNA, followed by the Philippines and El Salvador.   Related article: Bureau of Prisons Statistics –  E. Ann Carson, Ph.D.,   Prisoners in 2016  (Link offers a full report, summary and detail links)

In Justice Today – Harvard University (US) – Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba
The Sentencing of Larry Nassar Was Not ‘Transformative Justice.’ Here’s Why.

The highly charged nature of this recent trial and its subsequent sentencing with the powerful condemnation by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, and yet the resistance offered here by Transformative Justice spokespersons, it may be best to allow the proponents to speak for themselves:  “Transformative justice is not a flowery phrase for a court proceeding that delivers an outcome we like. It is a community process developed by anti-violence activists of color, in particular, who wanted to create responses to violence that do what criminal punishment systems fail to do: build support and more safety for the person harmed, figure out how the broader context was set up for this harm to happen, and how that context can be changed so that this harm is less likely to happen again. It is time-consuming and difficult work done by organizations like Generation 5, Creative Interventions and the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. It is not grounded in punitive justice, and actually requires us to challenge our punitive impulses, while prioritizing healing, repair and accountability.”