Guns and violence…

March 4, 2018

Global News – Natasha Pace
Domestic violence court opens in Halifax, officials anticipate 1,000 cases annually

A court that deals specifically with cases of domestic violence has opened in Halifax.  The court will sit one day a week and will be presided over by Judge Amy Sakalauskas who will begin hearing cases next week.  Two crown attorneys are assigned.  The court, the second in NS, is an import from Sydney, NS.  “A significant part of this program involves monitoring the progress of offenders and supporting that person, as well as the victim and their loved ones, throughout recovery,” said Chief Judge Pamela Williams of the provincial and family courts.”

Huffington Post / Globe and Mail – Camille Bains
Managed Alcohol Programs In Canada Are Getting Worldwide Attention – Research shows participants have fewer hospital visits, detox episodes and police contacts leading to custody.

Managed alcohol programs do exactly what the title suggests: the program supplies alcohol to those enrolled under medical supervision, sometimes as frequently as a dozen times a day.   There are a variety of other features around the diverse offerings as well – some offer housing; Canada has about twenty programs.  The program has attracted international attention on the basis of its success rates.

The Tyee (BC) – Vicki Chartrand
Why Is a Quarter of Canada’s Prison Population Indigenous? – Poverty, lack of opportunities, histories of sexual abuse — in other words, colonialism.

Indigenous people are 6.5 times more likely to be in federal prisons and now account for 26% of the prison population.  Equally, Indigenous people are more likely subject to the most severe penal practices: segregation, forced intervention, higher security classifications, and inmate death.  In short, says Chartrand, colonialism is alive and well in the federal prison system.

Pew Charitable Foundation (US) – Matt McKillop and Alex Boucher
Aging Prison Populations Drive Up Costs – Older individuals have more chronic illnesses and other ailments that necessitate greater spending

Some of the research prompted by the prison reform movement is drawing attention to the impact of age in the prison system, particularly given the increased health care costs for aging inmates.  From 1999 to 2016, the US saw an increase of 281% in inmates aged 55+.  The authors are suggesting that the increase is due to longer sentences and less parole.  They provide the statistics by state as well.   Related article: Pew Charitable Foundation (US) – John Gramlich   5 facts about crime in the U.S.   Related article: VERA (US)    The State of Justice Reform 2017

The Current (CBC Radio) – Anna Maria Tremonti
‘The murder of a child’s soul’: Greg Gilhooly confronts sexual abuse in new book

Tremonti interviews Greg Gilhooly, one of the abuse victims of hockey coach Graham James.  Gilhooly has just published a book called I am nothing: Confronting the sexually abusive coach who stole my life (Greystone Books)  “Child sexual abuse is nothing less than the murder of a child’s soul and it should be treated as nothing less in society,”  says Gilhooly.   (A 38 minute audio – transcript at the CBC link)

CBC News – Catherine Tunney
RCMP raising concerns about Liberals’ changes to criminal background checks – Criminal Records Act gives federal public safety minister power to alert organizations about a pardoned record

The issue is around whether a record suspension, AKA a pardon, means that the conviction is now overlooked in a police records check or whether the police force should inform the organization about the pardoned conviction in cases where the applicant is applying for the check to work with children or vulnerable persons vs an apartment rental or a less risky job.  Pardon as record suspension has come to mean that the conviction is buried, not wiped out and the RCMP are asking when should the conviction resurface?

The Toronto Star – Penny Collenette
 The politics of guns — a cross border issue –

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale is convening a consultation on gun violence in Canada and is likely to enflame again the rural vs urban divide on guns and control.  Harper’s Conservatives reversed a long standing policy of having the RCMP determine which were prohibited guns or rifles.  The consultation will involve all three levels of government, experts and police organization.  The Florida school shootings and the US NRA influence will also undoubtedly play a part.    Related article: Toronto Star – Rick Salutin Gun enthusiasts would rather lose their kids than their guns – Canadians don’t have a ‘right to bear arms.’ But in the U.S., gun culture runs as deeply as race

 Globe and Mail – Daniel Leblanc
Experts raise concerns about Ottawa’s planned crackdown on drug-impaired drivers

Some scientists and lawyers think that a proposed crackdown on drugged driving in the face of the legalization of marijuana will have nothing but trouble for evidence standing up in court.  Bill C-46, presently in the Senate, defines impairment on the basis of the strength of THC but unlike alcohol THC does not impact the same way on driving skills and has not been tried in court to date.  There is a further problem in that THC is known to have a considerable band of variation both in the drug and in the way the THC impacts different individuals.  The Bill will create three new offences for driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Mandatory-minimum sentencing rules unravelling into patchwork

The last few years have seen an increasing confusion in the consistency of mandatory minimums, especially at the provincial level of the justice system where judges themselves have refused to apply disproportionate sentences under the rules but do not have the authority to challenge the mandatory practice.  “In British Columbia, the province’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, has ruled mandatory minimums unconstitutional in five cases in the past two years.”    Related article: Toronto Star – Kate Allen, Jayme Poisson, Wendy Gillis    Two years after they said they didn’t, Toronto police admit they use Stingray cellphone snooping device