July 2, 2018

Church Council on Justice and Corrections
Our Home and Native Land:  Nearly half of Canada’s Incarcerated Youth are Indigenous, according to Statistics Canada

The Council’s reminder puts in contrast Canada’s preferred international reputation for human rights and reviews the various decrees of the UNHCR in recent months with regard to the treatment of Indigenous people and the failure of government to make corrections to the well substantiated injustices that Canada’s original people still suffer, especially the children.  The entire reflection is well worth pausing for.  It is startling to realize that “In today’s Canada more Indigenous children are being taken out of their homes and communities than were displaced at the height of the residential school system.”—July-News-From-CCJC.html?soid=1104292816970&aid=iAs0ZsKYBlM   (The link offers other connections that help fill in the details.)  Related article: CBC News – Chantelle Bellrichard    Overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in B.C. corrections system rising, says Statistics Canada report – Proportion of Indigenous girls involved in the justice system has nearly doubled since 2006/2007   Related article: CBC News – Leonard Monkman   Restorative justice programs could help reduce Indigenous incarceration rates, says chief  – Programs divert youth and first-time offenders from criminal justice system (US) – Mary Elizabeth Williams
Is there real hope for prison reform? Nonviolent offenders and the “Kim Kardashian moment”

This is the story of Alice Marie Johnston, the lady lifer recently pardoned by the efforts of Kim Kardashian and Amy Povah.  Amy is another who has suffered the wrongs of a demented sentencing system that ruins lives of minor offenders and their families.  The heart of the injustice is the charge of conspiracy.  “Today, Povah is the founder of CAN-DO, a non-profit foundation whose shorthand name stands for Clemency for All Nonviolent Drug Offenders. The organization seeks to educate the public about drug conspiracy laws and advocate for those currently incarcerated under them. Back in 2015, Povah put Alice Marie Johnson at the top of her list of women who deserved clemency.”  Related article: Metro News (UK) – Julia Killick  As a governor at Europe’s largest women’s prison, I saw how damaging short sentences can be   Related article:  America Magazine (US) –   Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her Catholic faith and the urgency of a criminal justice reform   Related article: Policy Options – Joe Gunn   Canadians might not be aware of the long history of churches fighting for social justice. For groups advocating for change, faith communities can be allies.   (Gunn is the Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice, a faith based anti-poverty group based in Ottawa.)

 Justice Action (Australia)
Online Counselling in Prison Cells

Following on the heels of the proposal to make computers (and internet) available inside prisons, actually inside the cells, the Australian justice group is looking for a re-appraisal as well of the potential for on-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) inside the prison cells.  The group is suggesting that such private one-on-one therapy may well be more effective because of the advantages offered by the technology:  privacy, confidentiality, physical obstacles.  CBT is thought effective particularly with domestic violence and de-radicalization; this technological CBT is attracting, at this point, a growing international interest.

Government of the UK – Policy Paper
Female Offender Strategy – Ministry of Justice Female Offender Strategy for women in the criminal justice system.

The UK has been looking at alarming increases in female inmates and has been doing some soul searching around private probation services and the inherent disadvantages of ignoring community support services in favour of sending women to prison for relatively short sentences.  The link offers a comprehensive report on the future strategy for female inmates, including the full report setting the direction, and five downloadable PDF files with statistical information, impact for community and policing, and a case for the whole system approach proposed.  Related article: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) – Liz Hogarth   Trapped in the Justice Loop? Past, present and future of the woman-centred services at the heart of the systems-change called for in the Corston Report    (This link, a 12 page pdf., offers a critique of the government proposals based on much of the advocacy (woman center projects) urging the government paper to start with.)  Related article:  Centre for Crime and Justice Studies – UK Justice Policy Review: Volume 7   (June 2016 – June 2017)  Actual full Report (40 page pdf):

World Economic Forum – (Davos) – Catesby Holmes
Busting myths about why Latin Americans seek to enter the US

The link offers an analysis of the homicide rates in Central America to explain why the source for refugees on the US Southern border has switched from Mexico itself to Central America.  Since 2000, the number of Central Americans has increased almost nine fold: 28,598 to 252,600 in 2014, three years ago.  The myth of economic refugees is shattered by the sharp rise in violence and the growing resolution to escape it.  The change includes a willingness to surrender to border personnel and request asylum, a change that requires a different response than simply catching refugees crossing the border in isolated spots.   Related article: United Nations Human Rights Watch   EU: Decisive Moment for Migration Policy – Summit Should Reject Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers   Related article:  UNHCR – Frontline responders from the North of Central America shed light on a silent crisis affecting women and children at Canada’s doorstep