Punish or cure?

July 31, 2018

The Guardian (UK) – Samira Shackle
Should we treat crime as something to be cured rather than punished?

Shackle presents the most important question plaguing contemporary prison reform.  In the light of constant confrontation with the failure of the prison system and its punishment motif, are we ready for a change of purpose and perspective?  Shackle looks at the decision by Scotland to change the purpose from punishment to health issues.  Once thought to be the most violent country in the world, Scotland is now admired for its violence and crime reduction.  Shackle traces the progress through the process.   https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/24/violent-crime-cured-rather-than-punished-scottish-violence-reduction-unit?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=The+Long+Read+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=282236&subid=25659394&CMP=longread_collection  Related article:  Bustle.com – Lindsay Rosenthal with Michelle Diaz  What It’s Like To Be a 13-Year-Old Girl And In Jail For Shoplifting  https://www.bustle.com/p/what-its-like-to-be-a-13-year-old-girl-in-jail-for-shoplifting-2477958

Huff Post – Melanie Marquis
Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights Group Wants Mass Shooting Survivor Booted Off Committee

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights is an American style gun lobby.  They are upset that Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has one of the survivors / victims of Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique shooting, Nathalie Prevost, on his firearms advisory committee.  She was shot four times in the incident.  Goodale described the protest against Provost as “unfortunate and inappropriate.”  https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/07/26/canadian-coalition-for-firearm-rights-nathalie-provost_a_23490461/?utm_campaign=canada_newsletter

Prison Reform Trust (UK)
Prison: The facts – Bromley Briefings Summer 2018

This report from Prison Reform Trust brings into sharp focus the myriads of problems created by short sentences as men and women in particular as they move in and out of prison and parole control.  Known as the Bromley Briefing the PRT report (a 16 page downloadable pdf) insists that there is no correlation between the short sentences and the crime levels.  The report also says that of the 65,000 sent to prison in 2017, 47% were sentenced to six months or less.  http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Bromley%20Briefings/Summer%202018%20factfile.pdf    Related report:  Blogger Russell Webster  (UK) Ten Headline Facts from the Bromley Report   https://mailchi.mp/russellwebster/bbjul18?e=10ab936adc   Also from Webster:  The process and experience of recall to prison  http://www.russellwebster.com/hmppsrecall18/  Related article:  Prison Reform Trust (UK) – Sarah Beresford   What about me? The impact on children when mothers are involved in the criminal justice system   http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/portals/0/documents/what%20about%20me.pdf   (A 52 page pdf on the facts and issues around the impact of imprisoning mothers of small children)  Helpful article: PRT Commentary / introduction to the Beresford report:  Nineteen in 20 children forced to leave home when mum goes to jail   http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/PressPolicy/News/vw/1/ItemID/545?dm_i=47L,5RY6Q,6JSCMH,MJ97Y,1

Western Star (NF) – Juanita Mercer
SPECIAL REPORT: Alternatives to sending people to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary

Mercer address the concerns about sending people to jail as well as sending them to the awful “Pen” aka Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.  “You can continue to build a bigger box, but if you are not doing anything to address the numbers that are there, you are going to have the same issues down the road,” said Justice Minister Andrew Parsons.   The alternatives, including a drug court, are couched in the restorative justice already practiced by Indigenous people on Newfoundland’s west coast.  http://www.thewesternstar.com/news/local/alternatives-to-jail-time-228641/   Related article: Globe and Mail Editorial: Safe-injection sites work well, and Ontario should keep them going   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-safe-injection-sites-work-well-and-ontario-should/

Toronto Star – Claire Wilmot
Analysis of Toronto gun shooting stats will surprise you

 No one likes to hear of anyone injured or killed in shootings.  But we still need to be accurate in our analysis.  Wilmot points out that there is no “surge” in shootings statistically:  As of July in 2017, Toronto is up 10% from the number of shooting incidents in 2016 but Wilmot is suggesting that some of the stats we hear are for certain police districts and not across Toronto.  The consequent policy leans to increasing police presence and technology, not the underlying causes of crime.  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/07/30/analysis-of-toronto-gun-shooting-states-will-surprise-you.html    Related article: Toronto Star – Robert Benzie   Tories blasted for $335M cut in planned spending on mental health   https://www.thestar.com/amp/news/queenspark/2018/07/26/tories-blasted-for-335m-cut-in-planned-spending-on-mental-health.html?__twitter_impression=true

CBC News – Matt Kwong
3D-printed ‘downloadable’ firearms are coming as soon as Wednesday. They could reshape U.S. gun control

The experts are arguing about whether a 3-D printer gun is effective and durable for use – many apparently don’t work.  But as of Aug. 1, in the US you can buy the plans for a gun and if you have a 3D printer, print a gun legally.  The guns, made of plastic and resin, do not have serial numbers, are not traceable, and the law enforcement community has no way to know where they are or who has them.  Equally disturbing, the plans for the infamous AR-15 are also available.   http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/downloadable-guns-3d-printer-cody-wilson-august-1-1.4764082  Related article: USA Today – Josh Hafner    Make an AR-15 at home: 3D printed ‘downloadable guns’ available Aug. 1   https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/820032002?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: CBC News – Associated Press  8 states sue Trump administration over 3D-printed gun instructions  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/3dguns-lawsuits-trump-administration-1.4768005

Bureau of Justice Statistics (US)
Tribal Crime Data Collection Activities, 2016-18

This is an effort started in 2011 to record crime on Native American lands but the process for putting the report together is still developing.  A national report will not be available until fall of 2019 but for the moment (mid-2016) the report suggests about 2540 inmates in Tribal Law Enforcement jails in 80 Indian Country jails across the US.  There are, additionally, an estimated 1700 in federal prisons.  The numbers are rising for the females reaching 27% in 2016.   https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6346&utm_source=email&utm_medium=juststats&utm_campaign=tcda1618

Canadian Lawyer – Aidan Macnab
Those working in Canada’s legal cannabis industry at risk entering U.S.

Now we have a second question (besides have you ever smoked marijuana?) from US border guards that creates some concerns for Canadians traveling to the US:  Where do you work?  Even though the use of marijuana is now legal in several US states, the US federal government makes no concession and people found to work for the cannabis industry may face an entry refusal or an outright ban for life.  “With U.S. federal law still outlawing cannabis and Canada soon to legalize, there is not a “level playing field” at the border anymore, says Evan Green, senior partner at Green and Spiegel LLP in Toronto. A person employed at a licensed cannabis company in Canada is, to the United States government, living off of the proceeds of crime, he says.”   https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/author/aidan-macnab/those-working-in-canadas-legal-cannabis-industry-at-risk-entering-us-16015/?utm_term=Those%20working%20in%20Canada%27s%20legal%20cannabis%20industry%20at%20risk%20entering%20U.S.&utm_campaign=CLNewswire_20180730&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

American Bar Association Journal (US) – Debra Cassens Weiss
Another jail eliminates in-person visits and adopts 50-cent-a-minute video visitation

Want to visit a loved one in prison?  Increasingly in the US that will be 50 cents a minute for the first 15 minutes to access a video.  Person-to-person visits are increasingly no longer available.  The reasons are often prevention of contraband and ease of security considerations.  But the decision is costly to the visitor ($30 / hour), the income is often shared with the state authority, and the visitor must have the software and hardware to effect the connection, all the while subjecting their conversation to Big Brother.  Some 600 jails now have the system and charges can go as high as $1 per minute.  There ought to be a law!   http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/another_jail_eliminates_free_in_person_visits_and_adopts_video_visitation

Orange County Register – Sean Emery
Retiring U.S. Supreme Court justice speaks in Anaheim about career, motivation when making decisions

Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is bemoaning the US drift from Europe, thinks that the US needs to draw lessons from European justice: “I think solitary confinement is wrong, and our sentences in this country are eight times longer than sentences for comparative crimes in Europe.”  Kennedy, widely viewed as a moderate balancing an otherwise even split of conservatives and liberals justices, appeared at a convention in Anaheim, California, for about a half hour.  His advice to the aspiring: “Always re-examine the principles that are motivating you to act,” Kennedy advised. “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I about to do what I am about to do?’”   https://www.ocregister.com/2018/07/26/retiring-u-s-supreme-court-justice-speaks-in-anaheim-about-career-motivation-when-making-decisions/   Related article: Policy Options (Canada) Lynn McDonald   Solitary confinement in Canada is an anomaly in an otherwise relatively humane system. The only way to protect vulnerable prisoners is to abolish it now. http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/july-2018/time-end-solitary-confinement/

Vice.com – Tamara Khandaker
Canada is using ancestry DNA websites to help it deport people – Canada’s border agency has used ancestry.com and familytreedna.com to establish nationalities of migrants — even contacting users.

Here’s another example of technology running ahead of legal arguments about the appropriateness and the expected privacy of those seeking information about their historical ancestry.  To make it work, Canadian Border Services have to collect the DNA of immigrants and refugees and then survey the family origins.  The process ignores the global movements of the individual family and is silent about when these migrations occurred.  There is yet no challenge to the process and no indication if a person is deemed a native of a particular country of origin that the country will accept him or her as a citizen.  https://news.vice.com/amp/en_ca/article/wjkxmy/canada-is-using-ancestry-dna-websites-to-help-it-deport-people?utm_campaign=sharebutton&__twitter_impression=true  Related article: Toronto Star – Vicky Mochama   DNA testing to aid deportations leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation and mistreatment  https://www.thestar.com/amp/opinion/star-columnists/2018/07/29/dna-testing-to-aid-deportations-leaves-plenty-of-room-for-misinterpretation-and-mistreatment.html?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: Citizens for Public Justice (Canada) Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan   Let’s Stop Asking Refugees to Pay for Travel   https://cpj.ca/canada-should-stop-asking-refugees-pay-travel