Inquests and recommendations…

Dec 22, 2018

Ottawa Citizen – Blair Crawford
Jury delivers sweeping recommendations to prevent jail suicides

Cleve Geddes was arrested for uttering threats and assaulting a police officer, A court ordered a psychiatric examination but since there was no bed available at the hospital, police brought him to the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre where he was place in solitary and later hanged himself.  The coroner’s jury hearing the case has offered 48 recommendations, after nine days of testimony before the five person jury.  The jury wants better trained police to deal with mentally ill people and an end to the use of segregation for mentally ill persons. “In their verdict delivered Monday, jurors also urged the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre to create a specialized mental health unit “as soon as possible” and end the practice of doing psychological counselling through cell door meal hatches.”  It remains to be seen if any of the recommendations will be acted on; they are legally non-binding.   Related article:  Toronto Star – Kenyon Wallace  and Mary Ormsby     Declare opioid overdoses a public health emergency, inquest says

CBC News – Kaitlyn Swan
‘Most drivers’ stopped by police will likely be tested for drunk driving: RCMP

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, new laws around impaired driving came into effect.  Once the police needed reasonable grounds to stop a driver, now they can require a breath test for sobriety without any reason.  Prompted by MADD concerns around death and injuries from drunk drivers, the legislation is nonetheless expected to attract challenges in the courts for its invasion of privacy rights under the Charter.  Civil rights advocates are also concerned that police with use the new authority to ride roughshod over minorities and practice very arbitrary stops as in the practice of carding.

CBC News – Brennan Neill
‘The prices are outrageous’: Concerns raised over monopoly on ordered goods in federal prisons – Inmates paying more than retail for goods in single-source catalogue

Inmates certainly fit the description of a ‘captive audience,’ especially if there is no alternative or no competition.  We have seen abuse in the cost of phone calls already.  Neill has discovered any number of common items available only through one catalogue company – Prototype Integrated Solutions – who have an exclusive contract with Corrections Canada to provide goods to inmates, as well as to the Defence Department and other government departments.  All the profit from the exorbitant pricing charged the inmates goes to the company.

CBC News – Canadian Press
Privacy commissioner says pot buyers should guard personal info due to travel concerns

Many advocates described the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana as ‘free domday.’  Not so, says the privacy commissioner who is advising people to limit as much as possible the personal information given when purchasing the drug, especially not to use credit cards and to limit purchases to cash.  Buying on line limits the payment method but increases the exposure, especially since the purchase is not legal outside of Canada.  Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Dec 17, 2018) – Cannabis is legal, but thanks to governments that doesn’t mean you can get any

The Atlantic (US) – Joe Fassler and Claire Brown
Prison Food Is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick – Lapses in food safety have made U.S. prisoners six times more likely to get a foodborne illness than the general population.

Many reports over recent times have substantiated the claim that prison food is “scant, joyless, and unsavory—if not even worse.”  It seems that the even worse is now getting documented and that the food is actually making inmates sick.  “According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), correctional inmates are 6.4 times more likely to suffer from a food-related illness than the general population.”  Another agency, the American Journal of Public Health,  “found that inmates suffer from foodborne illness at a rate of 45 per 100,000 people annually, compared to only 7 per 100,000 in the general population.”

Toronto Star – Dune Lawrence, Bloomberg
Bankruptcy on the table as Boy Scouts of America confront sex abuse claims

It seems that tin an effort to keep out undesirable volunteers, the Boy Scouts kept meticulous records of those who misbehaved to prevent recurrence of the same behaviour.  The records have now become evidence of massive sexual abuse and evidence in hundreds of lawsuits.  The Boy Scouts, even with declining enrollments and failing efforts to increase participation, still remain the largest youth participation organization in the US with more than 2 million participants in the 2017 programs.

BC Tyee – Andrew MacLeod
BC Says No to Proportional Representation – Some 61.3 per cent of voters opt for current electoral system.

One of the questions circling the prospects around the 2019 federal election is the issue of proportional representation in the election, one of the Liberal promises that have gone nowhere since the last election.  Now, BC voters at least are offering their assessment on the issue: a substantial majority in this third effort voted against.  The turnout on the vote was a mere 42% of those eligible in the admittedly partisan vote and some claiming a flawed process.

World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland) – Kate Whiting
The 10 best countries to be a woman

Gender equality has apparently suffered somewhat during the year of 2018.  Since 2006, the overall gender gap has reduced by 3.6% – but in 2018, there was only a 0.03% reduction, revealing “extremely slow progress”.   144 countries were surveyed, 89 reported marginal improvement and 55 regressed.  Canada is not on the top ten list.  The global performance is based on a number of indices: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.   Related article: World Economic Forum (Davos) – Renee McGowan    Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

 New Publication:  Sue-Ann MacDonald and Benjamin Roebuck

Staying Alive While Living the Life – Adversity, Strength, and Resilience in the Lives of Homeless Youth (Fernwood Publishing, 2018)   Paperback or electronic – $20