Jail violence…

Aug 21, 2018

Toronto Star – Peter Edwards
Coroner’s inquest called into three prison drug deaths

The Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, in London, On, is back in the news as an inquest is scheduled around the drug deaths of three inmates.  Floyd Deleary, 39, died on Aug. 23, 2015; Justin Thompson died on Oct. 31, 2016 in hospital after transfer from the jail while Davis died on Aug. 17, 2017 in custody.  As yet, there is no date or location for the inquest.  Inquests are not reliable indicators that any problem found will be addressed since the inquest can only offer recommendations and has no authority to order changes.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/08/19/coroners-inquest-called-into-three-prison-drug-deaths.html    Related article: CBC News – Ian Froese   Stony Mountain under lockdown after 3 inmates assaulted   https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4790163?__twitter_impression=true  

Blogger Russell Webster (UK):
46% prisons officially rated “of concern”

How would you decide if prisons are doing what they are supposed to do?  The UK has a rating system which has been evolving over the years and they actually rate the performance on the Custodial Performance Tool.  They rate the prisons on: public protection, safety and order and offender reform.  64% of the prisons are doing excellent or meeting the majority of the goals.  44% are of concern or serious concern.   https://mailchi.mp/russellwebster/hmpratings18?e=10ab936adc  Full report:  Ministry of Justice (UK) Annual Prison Performance Ratings 2017/18 (8 page downloadable pdf) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730208/annual_prison_performance_ratings_2017_18_statistical_bulletin.pdf

Vox (US) – German Lopez
America’s prisoners are going on strike in at least 17 states – Incarcerated Americans are often forced to work for cents an hour. So they’re launching what could be their biggest protest ever.

The recent attention to the need for prison reform is raising the profile of prisons for profit and the practice of hiring out prisoners to do at little or no pay to the prisoners all sorts of employment activities.  The most prominent currently is the use of inmates to fight wild fires in California but many states have long “rented out” the labour of the inmates while paying pittance to the inmates.  Time’s up say the inmates and they plan a strike starting Aug. 21 to Sept 9 to protest what they deem a form of slavery.  The dates were chosen to reflect the bloody uprising at Attica in 1971, often viewed as the beginning of the prisoner rights movement in the US.  The inmates are asking for an awareness on the part of consumers for those items in the stores produced with cheap prison labour.  https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/8/17/17664048/national-prison-strike-2018?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: Common Dreams – Julia Conley   Demanding Wide-Reaching Reforms and an End to Slavery, Inmates in 17 States Plan Prison Strike  “Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at.”  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/08/18/demanding-wide-reaching-reforms-and-end-slavery-inmates-17-states-plan-prison-strike?amp&__twi Kristi Graunke and Will Tuckertter_impression=true   Related article: The Marshall Project – Kristi Graunke and Will Tucker   Why Incarcerated People At Poultry Plants Deserve Better – Hazardous conditions undermine the benefits of early work release   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/08/13/why-incarcerated-poultry-workers-deserve-better   Related article:  The Sentencing Project  Dr. Stanley Andrisse: From prison cells to PhD, Dr. Stanley Andrisse shares his transformation to inspire those impacted by the criminal justice system   https://www.sentencingproject.org/stories/stanley-andrisse/    Related video: From Prison Cells to PhD – Stan Andrisse   (A 4min 51 sec video)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ68ihYOnjk&feature=youtu.be   (link offers a number of videos of like theme.)

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Doug Ford has promised to ‘fix’ Ontario’s new policing laws. What could that look like?

Bill 175 was ready for implementation the day after the last provincial election.  New Premier Doug Ford put an order-in-council in place delaying the law for review.  Problem is, no one knows what changes to expect.  When first unveiled last year the Safer Ontario Act looked at the role of the Special Investigations Unit and was hailed as “historic and overdue.”  Kent Roach, a professor of law at the University of Toronto whose expertise includes policing, thinks that C-175 puts Ontario at the forefront of “balanced policing legislation.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/08/19/doug-ford-has-promised-to-fix-ontarios-new-policing-laws-what-could-that-look-like.html

High Times.com – Piper Courtenay
Canadian Legal Expert Calls Cannabis Breathalyzers “Flawed Approach” to Legalization – Are cannabis breathalyzers the wrong approach to preventing people from driving under the influence?

As close as we are to the marijuana legislation (October) there is still no consensus among the experts on how to derive court admissible evidence of driving while under the influence of cannabis.  The latest approved device is “the German-made Dräger DrugTest 5000, a portable substance-detection device that looks like a small Keurig coffee machine for spit.”  On the basis of the initial test, police may order a blood test. Sarah Leamon, a Vancouver lawyer specializing in cannabis law says: “The bottom line is that all of these devices don’t have any reflection on the level of impairment at all when it comes to the subject of the test,”   https://hightimes.com/news/canadian-legal-expert-calls-cannabis-breathalyzers-flawed-approach-legalization/amp/

Washington Post (US) – John Legend
It’s time for Louisiana to strip white supremacy from its constitution

Many of the items currently under review by advocates for prison reform have been enshrined in law, even constitutional state law, for years and involve the efforts by the state to exclude from  justice all Black influence and participation.  Louisiana has one such law that allows a jury of less than 12 to find a verdict – a practice known as the non-unanimous verdict, now in place for over a 100 years.  All you need for a felony conviction is 10 of the 12.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/opinions/its-time-for-louisiana-to-strip-white-supremacy-from-its-constitution/2018/08/13/53be0e2a-9676-11e8-8ffb-5de6d5e49ada_story.html?utm_term=.421944c3f1c4&__twitter_impression=true&noredirect=on

iPolitics – Anna Demarais
Team Trudeau to drop “lottery” system for immigrants

When attempting to bring family to Canada under the immigrations laws, parents and grandparents have been judged ready only when selected through a lottery system and only when the total for the year is less than 17,000.  Government has announced it intends to revert to first-come basis for selection and they are expanding the total to 20,000.  The family re-unification backlog is now at 26,000 from a high of 167,000 applications in 2011.  No one is saying if many new Canadians have simply abandoned the process as too unlikely to work for them.  The lottery system is a year old and changing because the government has had considerable feedback that the lottery is unfair.  https://ipolitics.ca/2018/08/20/team-trudeau-to-drop-lottery-system-for-immigrants/

Washington Post (US) – Emma Coleman
Why criminal justice reform advocates are struggling in Trump’s America – The religious origins of President Trump’s war on crime

The connection between criminal justice and religion is from the beginning with the Puritans and the Quakers, both of whom made significant contributions to defining and underpinning the current system in the four purposes: deterrence, incapacitation, retribution and rehabilitation.  The Old and the New Testament, contributing in both the notion of retribution and redemption, find an echo in today’s justice practice as well.  The notion of severity in sentencing may be an adjunct to the diminishing church attendance and the lowering of the voices of second chance and redemption.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/08/20/why-criminal-justice-reform-advocates-are-struggling-in-trumps-america/?utm_term=.b1c4666f18e6