Jan 21, 2019

CBC News – Robyn Urback
Driver in the Humboldt crash made a mistake — a horrific one — but one any of us could have made

The Humboldt hockey team loss of life and injuries impacted on families and friends but also mostly on all Canadians.  The truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, has pleaded guilty to sixteen counts of dangerous driving causing death.  There was no speeding, no intoxication, no distraction at the time of the crash.  Observers think that without the guilty plea, the crown would have been hard pressed to get a conviction based on the evidence from the investigation.  Each count carries a maximum of 14 years in prison.  Perhaps in the tragedy, the case is a good context for discussion not only of sentencing but of the purpose of prison itself.  Sidhu will be sentenced on Jan. 28.  Urback compares the Ontario case of Marco Muzzo who killed three children and their grandfather in a drunken crash.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/humboldt-driver-1.4972428  Related article:  CBC News – Brian Pfefferle   No sentence handed down by court can be commensurate with devastating toll of Humboldt crash   “No matter the sentence, two things are certain: nothing can be proportionate to the unimaginable loss experienced by the victims, their families and friends, and no punishment can be nearly as great as the guilt Sidhu will bear for the rest of his life.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/analysis-humboldt-crash-semi-driver-what-sentence-1.4970343

Tyee (BC) – Katie Hyslop
BC Indigenous Leaders Fear Cabinet Shuffle Signals End to Reconciliation Agenda – ‘We’re sitting on a time bomb,’ says one advocate.

Hyslop is raising a concern from the Indigenous people of BC about what the removal of Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice means for the future of a thrust towards restorative justice which stemmed from her ministry.  The pipeline dispute is focused in BC and Wilson-Reybould was replace by Montreal MP David Lametti, a law professor.  The concern of First Nations is compounded by the placement of Seamus O’Regan as Indigenous Affairs minister.  Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, describes the changes as “…a clearing of the reconciliation deck, so to speak.”   https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/01/15/Indigenous-Leaders-Fear-Shuffle-Signals-End/  Related article: Tyee (BC) 0- Zoë Ducklow  Nine Things You Need to Know about the Unist’ot’en Blockade – The RCMP moved Monday to break up a First Nations protest. Here’s how we got to this point.   https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08/LNG-Pipeline-Unistoten-Blockade/  Related article: Tyee (BC) – Andrew Nikiforuk – When Indigenous Assert Rights, Canada Sends Militarized Police – It’s become routine, but ignores latest law on rights and title, say experts.  https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/17/Indigenous-Rights-Canada-Militarized-Police/

 Fifth Estate – Shanifa Nasser
Deadly restraint

This is a disturbing account of the death of Soleiman Faqiri, a mentally ill inmate in the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, added to all the recent concerns about death in custody.  A witness and fellow inmate John Thibeault offers this account:  “For the next 10 minutes or so, he stood transfixed as guards delivered what he described as a violent torrent of kicks, punches and blows against the 30-year-old mentally ill man in what would be the final moments of his life…“I’ve never seen nothing like it. And I’ve seen a lot of messed up stuff in jail,” Thibeault, 32, told The Fifth Estate, breaking his silence for the first time since Faqiri’s death.”  The incident dates from two years ago and the inquest / investigation resulted in a verdict of “unascertained.”  Now the coroner has re-opened the case.  https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/soleiman-faqiri-jail-death  (Watch the program on CBC TV Fifth Estate on Sunday, Jan 20 at 9PM.)

CBC News – Colin Butler
Ontario corrections officers only get a week of training, London jury hears – Former guard describes training as ‘non-existent’ at trial of 2 jailors

Stephen Jurkus and Leslie Lonsbary, both former guards at London-Middlesex Provincial Jail, are also both charged with failure to protect the life of inmate Adam Kargus from cellmate Anthony George who beat Kargus to death for over an hour without interruption.  At trial, Greg Langford, a fellow corrections officer, against whom charges had been dropped, testified that training for guards lasts one week – courses in CPR, first aid, fire procedure and a week of shadowing a more experienced guard – and is so limited as to be seen as non-existent.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/trial-jailors-elgin-middlesex-detention-centre-greg-langford-1.4984233

CBC News – Tony Keene
Hazing thrives in organizations obsessed with conformity. The military is the acme of this

Keene is of the opinion that organizations of males with high, even compulsive, insistence on conformity birth and sustain hazing as a group behaviour.  Private schools, the military, and sports teams are the likely place.  Keene, a 40 year army reservist, and with overseas duty, offers this summary: “But the glaringly obvious fact is that they almost always involve men, in all- or mostly-male organizations, whose members believe that they are superior due to an embroidered badge sewn on their blazer, their sweater or their uniform.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/hazing-military-1.4962270   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Jan 17, 2019) Finally, some much-needed civilian oversight for the RCMP  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/01/17/finally-some-much-needed-civilian-oversight-for-the-rcmp.html

VERA Institute (US) and Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
Postsecondary education in prison – How everyone wins:  Investing in Futures Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Postsecondary Education in Prison

This study links race, education and poverty as obstacles that lead to mass incarceration.  The focus of criminal justice reform is bringing greater awareness not simply of the first act of incarceration but also of the attendant factors that perpetuate repeated incarceration.  “Research shows that people’s earnings at the time of incarceration are on average 41 percent less than the income of people of similar ages who are not incarcerated…Moreover, serving time only compounds a person’s struggle against poverty. The hardships of cash bail and fines and fees—coupled with countless barriers to re-entry, such as employment and housing restrictions—perpetuate an endless cycle that robs people of their dignity and upends entire families and communities.” https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/investing-in-futures-education-in-prison/legacy_downloads/investing-in-futures.pdf   Related article: World Economic Forum (Davos)  – Baillie Aaron   Prisons are failing.  It’s time to find an alternative.   https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/prisons-are-failing-time-for-alternative-sparkinside?utm_source=Facebook%20Videos&utm_medium=Facebook%20Videos&utm_campaign=Facebook%20Video%20Blogs

Commonweal Magazine (US) – John Gehring
Building Bridges at the Border: A Conversation with Sister Norma Pimentel

We have heard enough about “alternate facts” that we may derive some powerful “alternate truth” from the perspective offered by this Catholic nun working with immigrants on the Texas / Mexico border.  The comments are in the context of Trump’s recent visit to the border and his efforts to gather an audience to approve his policies.  “I think that those who are convinced that we need a wall are not from here, and they don’t really know the reality of life at the border. For us it is very important that our community is safe. Our cities here at the border are among the safest in the United States. I respect our border patrol and the work they do to control who enters our country. Having safe communities depends on us building bridges that bring us together rather than divide us. We need to learn how to be united as one community. Respecting and defending all life is important and must be placed first.”   https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/building-bridges-border   Related article: The Marshall Project: We are witnesses: Becoming an American  (A series of 12 witnesses offer briefly their stories of origin.)   https://www.themarshallproject.org/we-are-witnesses/immigration   Related article: National Public Radio – Eric Westervelt   From A Cell To A Home: Newly Released Inmates Matched With Welcoming Hosts  https://www.npr.org/2019/01/16/684135395/from-a-cell-to-a-home-ex-inmates-find-stability-with-innovative-program