Jail suicides…

Nov 26, 2018

CBC News
Coroner’s inquest begins today into suicide of mentally ill man at OCDC

A lot of prison issues coalesce when a coroner’s jury begins the process of examining why an inmate died in prison.  Cleve ‘Cas’ Geddes hanged himself in the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre shortly after arrest.  He was suffering long term from schizophrenia and was supposed to undergo a 30 day mental health assessment to determine if he was criminally responsible.  There was no room in the hospital so he was sent to the OCDC where he hanged himself and later died in hospital.  As the hearing unravels, the expectation is that a lot of concerns around the intersection of mental health and prisons will surface. Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS) will participate in the inquiry as well.   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/cleve-cas-geddes-coroners-inquest-1.4920114?webview=true&appname=news-android-app   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Megan Gillis    Inquest Monday into hanging death of mentally-ill prisoner   https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/inquest-monday-into-hanging-death-of-mentally-ill-prisoner   Related article: Toronto Star – Kenyon Wallace and Mary Ormsby   Sister of man who died in Toronto alley hopes inquest will ‘shine a light’ on how homeless addicts are underserved   https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/11/26/inquest-begins-looking-into-death-of-homeless-toronto-man-brad-chapman.html

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Cancer risk in marginalised women

A small but perhaps helpful study in the UK looked at the consequences of marginalization for women from two small women offender centers.  The study talked with some 23 women and 7 staff and examined three areas: risk factors in daily life; risk perception as shaped by social circumstances; and navigating the health care system.  “Perhaps the most challenging conclusion of this research was that the women interviewed had a good understanding of the risks of different health behaviours but the combination of structural disadvantage, low personal expectations and negative experiences of the health system meant that they were at a considerably high risk of cancer than other women.”  https://mailchi.mp/russellwebster/womencancer?e=10ab936adc

National Catholic Reporter (US) – Global Sisters Report
Sisters report on plight of asylum-seekers amid caravan headlines

The report may be a welcomed and alternate view of the chaos offered by wider media on the border between the US and Mexico where the caravans have arrived.  The reports identify sisters (or nuns) whose ministry is focused essentially on welcoming the stranger and making some provisions for their settlement before their asylum status is determined.  The US Thanksgiving may give this article a special poignancy.  https://www.globalsistersreport.org/blog/gsr-today/migration/sisters-report-plight-asylum-seekers-amid-caravan-headlines-55642?utm_source=11-22-news+email&utm_campaign=cc&utm_medium=email    Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung   Number of ‘anchor babies’ born in Canada far greater than official estimates, study shows    https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/11/22/number-of-anchor-babies-born-in-canada-far-greater-than-official-estimates-study-shows.html

CBC News – Devi Lockwood
Igloolik children covered in sores because of black mould in public housing unit

The problem of black mould in Nunavut public housing persists in spite of the $12 million plus the government has already spent on clean-up.  The mould seems impervious to washing and cleaning, at least with vinegar and baking soda.  The request for government attention to the problem dates from April 2018 at Charlene Kappianaq’s home when the sores first began to appear on her child but no one has shown up to date.  Experts say that the homes involved were not designed to be Artic homes and further:  “The problem though is that there just isn’t the money to be able to replace that housing at the rate that it needs to be.”   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mould-igloolik-nunavut-housing-1.4913795

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Why are women sentenced to short prison sentences?

Webster surveys what is known about the practice to date: probation problems, knowledge gaps in the system, and failure in child rights.  Then he offers three main recommendations from the latest Howard League Report on Penal Reform: scrape sentences of 12 months or less; properly fund probation services; and third, what appears to be a very clever idea, monitor court by raising up women champions in National Probation Services to formulate reports on what actually happens when women are at court.  https://mailchi.mp/russellwebster/appgwomen18?e=10ab936adc  Related article: Toronto Star – Patty Winsa   First-time shoplifters won’t be charged by Toronto police in pilot project  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/11/25/first-time-shoplifters-wont-be-charged-by-toronto-police-in-pilot-project.html

Toronto Star – Tonda MacCharles
Canadian MPs worry Interpol at risk of becoming a ‘political witch hunt organization’

Interpol is the international policing agency whose member states were alarmed when the current President, a Chinese citizen, disappeared while visiting China, allegedly arrested on corruption charges by the Chinese, and a Russian then narrowly lost a bid to replace him.  The alarm was compounded because Russia is well known for the use of Interpol warrants on perceived enemies of the state and is also given to extra-territorial murders.  Critics are now suggesting the potential for Interpol to become a “political international witch hunt” organization.  https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2018/11/22/canadian-mps-worry-interpol-at-risk-of-becoming-a-political-witch-hunt-organization.html   Related article: Related article: CNN – Euan McKirdy   Interpol elects South Korean Kim Jong Yang President over Russian front-runner  https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/21/asia/interpol-new-president-intl/index.html   National Newswatch – James McCarten, Canadian Press  Contempt for courts? Critics denounce disdain for rule of law in Ontario, U.S.  https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2018/11/23/contempt-for-courts-critics-denounce-disdain-for-rule-of-law-in-ontario-u-s/#.W_gP9eJRc2x

The Tyee (BC) – Andrea D. Smith
Beyond Gladue: How the Justice System Is Still Failing Indigenous Offenders – In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled ‘particular attention’ must be paid in their sentencing. That’s still not happening.

The Canadian legal scene reports regularly on how the system is failing Indigenous People but the Gladue ruling spells out the failure in concrete terms: there have been measures to confront the disproportionate jailing of Indigenous people, even enshrined in law by the courts.  The Gladue ruling requires a pre-sentencing report on the individual.  “In 1996, the Criminal Code was amended to add a requirement that judges consider “all available sanctions, other than imprisonment” for offenders…The same section said courts should pay “particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders” in deciding on a sentence. The failure to do as required is attributed to various provincial / territorial interpretations and inadequate resources.  Smith also describes the arrival of “after-care” to compliment the required attention to background.   https://thetyee.ca/News/2018/11/21/Failing-Indigenous-Offenders/