But to do it…

May 14, 2018

Policy Options – Anthony Doob, Jane Sprott, Cheryl Webster
Learning from our success in reducing youth imprisonment:  Canada’s success in reducing youth imprisonment in the last two decades is evidence that reform of the justice system is possible, with the political will.

Doob and colleagues are very pointed in their assessment, and impatience, with the hesitation to act and the Liberal reluctance to tackle some of the residual of Harper’s tough-on-crime era.  “Canada’s success in reducing youth custody is in striking contrast to its failure in the case of adult imprisonment. While restraint in the use of adult incarceration has been advocated by official commissions and committees for over 100 years, successive governments have been reluctant to take a strong stand in favour of it. A notable current example of this reluctance is the unwillingness of Justin Trudeau’s government to do anything about mandatory minimum penalties, notwithstanding its commitment to implement all the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that are within its jurisdiction. That commission recommended, in Call to Action #32, that judges be given the explicit power to depart from mandatory minimums. It hasn’t happened. At least part of the explanation, we would suggest, lies in the lack of political will to do it.” http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2018/learning-from-our-success-in-reducing-youth-imprisonment/

CBC News – Jason Warwick
Justice was not served:’ Sixties Scoop survivors unhappy after approval of $875M settlement – Hearing in Saskatoon saw more than 100 survivors testify

The $875 million settlement addresses 20,000 residential school survivors, those scooped from their homes:  $700 million for survivors, $50 million for a foundation and $75 million for lawyers.  Still many Indigenous people are saying that the process pre-empted the right to be heard and wound up telling the people rather than hearing the people, the very principle, say some survivors, that caused the problems to start with.  “Was this just to shut us up? There is no integrity in this process. Justice was not served,” said survivor Marlene Orgeron, a member of the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba who was adopted out to a family in New Orleans.”  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/sixties-scoop-hearing-saskatoon-1.4658197

Toronto Star – Daniel Bernhard
La Presse throws in the towel. Who’s next?

If the Quebec government is willing to change some law, La Presse, after 140 years of publishing, Quebec’s largest newspaper, is ready to change their business model to a not-for-profit.  The long-time media giant is about to close its doors unless the new model is available.  The main problem is shared by every print media in Canada and is perhaps equally pressing for an answer.  “Google, Facebook and other foreign internet giants extract 80% of Canada’s digital advertising spending, and this outsized dominance sucks the life out of newsrooms who are needed to defend our democracy against corruption and fake news.”  The question remaining is where will Canadians get in-depth analysis of news events?  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/05/14/la-presse-throws-in-the-towel-whos-next.html

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Judge can’t end a trial just because he has ‘heard enough,’ appeal court rules

The lower court Judge made a ruling that the Crown had not at all proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt with a single witness – the victim – and dismissed the charges without even hearing from the defence or the closing arguments.  On appeal by the Crown, Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar dissented and ordered a new trial.  “The case involved a Toronto man, Brian Sibbert, who was charged with failure to comply with a probation order for allegedly contacting his neighbour, whom he had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting. The woman was the Crown’s sole witness.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/05/11/judge-cant-end-a-trial-just-because-he-has-heard-enough-appeal-court-rules.html

San Francisco Chronicle (US) – Bob Egelko
US attorney general considers ending asylum for domestic violence victims

In a startling suggestions by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is a threat to end the protection of immigrant wives from domestic violence.  Currently, the rules allow the victim of domestic violence in the country of origin to claim political asylum but Sessions is threatening to re-write the rules and eliminate the protection.  “Since January, Sessions has set aside four rulings of the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest court in the immigration system, and said he would use one of them to decide whether anyone fleeing private criminal conduct in their homeland could be considered a victim of persecution entitled to asylum.”   https://www.sfchronicle.com/nation/amp/US-attorney-general-considers-ending-asylum-for-12905701.php?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) – Weekend Read: What happens when mom is deported?   https://www.splcenter.org/news/2017/06/09/weekend-read-what-happens-when-mom-deported

Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (SK)
Community Safety & Well-Being:  Concept, Practice and Alignment  (SK) – Dr. Chad Nilson

This report is a 60 page pdf that puts some legs to the notion of how the different elements of community safety and well-being may work together when you advocate for a new vision of social service delivery, as when, among others, you make criminal justice a public health issue.  The Community Safety Knowledge Alliance is a non-profit and a partner with the federal government.  Which defines its work as:  “More particularly, its work: informs and improves professional human service practices across the community safety system; informs alignment within the sector; and improves safety and well-being outcomes at the individual, family, community, and policy levels.”  http://www.cskacanada.ca/images/board-member-documents/PDFs/CSWB-Concept-Practice-Alignment_May2018_final_DIGITAL_revised_2.pdf

Washington Post (US) – Justin Jouvenal
Raising babies behind bars – A bold experiment in parenting and punishment is allowing children in prison. But is that a good thing?

Canada’s prison system has left infant children with inmate mothers but this is a relatively new idea in the US.  This link is from Decatur, Illinois.  There are eight institutions in the US that allow the practice, prompted say advocates by the alarming increase in the number of incarcerated women (the rate is currently growing faster than incarceration of males).  While the program for Moms and babies inside is commendable, the scene raises the issue of why imprisonment is the first solution, especially for the low level crimes that imprison many women, and why there are no alternatives to prison sentencing.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/05/11/feature/prisons-are-allowing-mothers-to-raise-their-babies-behind-bars-but-is-the-radical-experiment-in-parenting-and-punishment-a-good-idea/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.046fc6ac9778