More women in jail…

May 23, 2018

 (Ed note: The last edition of communiqué contained a reference and commentary on the Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS) of Ottawa.  Some of the MOMS involved in the discussions around the plan to rebuild the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre wanted to be clear that while they support a new prison, they do not support an enlargement of the prison nor the on-going failure to invest in community resourced responses to crime.)

Montreal Gazette – Raymond St. Germain and Art Eggleton
Opinion: Reduce the poverty-to-prison pipeline for women – Over the last decade, the number of women in Canada’s jails has spiked 30 per cent.

This report says there has been a 30% increase in incarceration of women without a corresponding increase in crime by women.  “Women in custody are in fact likely to be victims of physical (90 per cent) and sexual (67 per cent) abuse themselves, with addiction issues and children relying on them.”  A recent open forum for the Senate Caucus lists three reasons for the increase:  poverty, the tough-on-crime era, and outdated (male) classification system which over-estimates risk and often places women in solitary without access to programs and in deteriorating mental health conditions.  There are parallel solutions offered by these two senators. Increase community programs, reform sentencing and classification, and make prison practices transparent.

World Economic Forum – Joseph Stiglitz
This is what Costa Rica can teach the world about democracy

Here’s a refreshing report from a well-known economist about how Costa Rica has been able to dissolve its army, improve and increase its co-operatives, and build real democracy in a region known for its civil wars and revolutions.  Part of the Well-Being Alliance, Costa Rica has less than 5 million population and “works toward the standards set by the International Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, for constructing better welfare metrics.”  Related article: World Economic Forum – Adam Jezard     25% of Dubai’s buildings will be 3D printed by 2025

Ted Talks – Kate Raworth
A Health Economy Should be designed to thrive, not grow…

Oxford economist Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist (2017), offers a 16 minute talk on what a sustainable and universally beneficial economy would look like.  We need to re-image the role of economies so that we “create regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet’s ecological limits.”

N.Y. Times – The Interpreter
What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer

This link is the usual effort to wrestle with the senselessness of another mass shooting – the effort to explain why the US distinguishes itself most powerfully globally for the tolerance to guns over all else.  The conclusion is stark in its simplicity:  “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

 L.A. Times (US) Book Review – M. Buna
Carceral Capitalism: A Conversation with Jackie Wang

The link is to a Q&A interview with the author of a new book that proposes a connection between capitalism and the mass incarceration seen recently.  The topics are quite expansive:  “Wang examines contemporary incarceration techniques and illustrates various aspects of the carceral continuum, including the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory and algorithmic policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and cybernetic governance.”

Blogger Russell Webster
The Three Principles:  Promoting wellbeing from the inside-out

This blog comments on a new approach to mindfulness training in the British prison system.  The 3P approach – Universal Mind, consciousness, and thought – is thought particularly effective for addicts, and is delivered for 10 sessions, once weekly for three hours at a time.  So far the approach is in the early stages without adequate research into effectiveness but appears initially promising.  The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology:  Thomas M. Kelley, Jacqueline Hollows, Eric G. Lambert     Teaching Health versus Treating Illness: The Efficacy of Three Principles Correctional Counseling with People in an English Prison

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Short sentences versus community orders

Webster and other advocates have been loudly critical of the practice of giving short prison sentences, defined as less than one year.  Here he offers a report on a comparison of short sentences vs community orders.  The practice of short prison sentences is particularly noteworthy among women convicted of minor crime.  The report examines the impact of both on various types of offenders as well using re-offending as the criteria.

CBC News – Janice Dickson, Canadian Press
Canada not doing enough on issues facing Indigenous women, UN human rights council says – Canada continues to struggle to address this country’s most urgent human rights issues: UN chief commissioner

Canada has just completed a five year peer review on its internal performance on human rights.  The Human Rights Council review is voluntary and Jody Wilson Raybould went to Geneva to hear and respond to the council’s report.  “Wilson-Raybould says she heard the council’s message “loudly and clearly,” including the need to support the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal women behind bars.”   Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, credited the Canadian government with putting human rights back on the agenda.   Related article: Canadian Free Press Wire Service – United Nations review tells Canada to step up to end poverty, homelessness, and inequality   Related article: Globe and Mail – Alex Neve and Brenda Gunn  Canada comes up short at UN review of human-rights issue

The Star (Edmonton) – Claire Theobald
Lack of Indigenous jurors indicative of a systemic problem, experts say

The reversal came two and one half years after Connie Oakes was convicted and sentenced to life.  Oakes now has a million dollar lawsuit against the federal government for a conviction based largely on one witness who “first identified other suspects — and was found to have a very low IQ and cognitive difficulties that impaired her ability to understand and recall complex matters.”  Edmonton lawyer Simon Renouf says:  “(Lawyers) don’t have a problem with people using peremptory challenges to get Aboriginal people off the jury, we can’t find a way of getting Aboriginal people on the jury,”