Let’s talk…

Feb. 4, 2019

Ottawa Citizen – Joanne Laucius
Bell, let’s talk about making it easier for inmates to call from jail, say protesters

The national Bell Let’s Talk effort is underway and has at its base the notion that the initial step in mental health is talking about what bothers you.  Prison advocates are drawing attention to exorbitant costs for telephone calls from inside by inmates to families. “A single phone call can save the life of a loved behind bars, said Rehman, a member of Mothers Offering Mutual Support, a support group for women. “This is someone who is ridden with anxiety and fear. They need that close contact.”  https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/bell-lets-talk-about-making-it-easier-for-inmates-to-call-from-jail-say-protesters  Related article: CBC News – Robyn Miller   Protesters call on Bell to fix phone system for inmates  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/protest-demands-change-to-bell-canada-jail-phones-1.4998593   Related article:  CBC News – Judy Trinh   Province gets ‘kickback’ from inmates’ collect calls, lawyer says   https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.3997146?__twitter_impression=true Related article: The Florida Times Union – Ben Conarck   Prison phone provider accuses Florida Dept. of Corrections of using inmates’ families as a slush fund https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190130/prison-phone-provider-accuses-florida-dept-of-corrections-of-using-inmates-families-as-slush-fund?template=ampart&__twitter_impression=true   Related article: The Article (US): George Joseph and Debbie Nathan  Prisons Across the U.S. Are Quietly Building Databases of Incarcerated People’s Voice Prints    https://theappeal.org/prisons-across-the-u-s-are-quietly-building-databases-of-incarcerated-peoples-voice-prints/

CBC News – Aly Thomson
Retiring N.S. chief justice urges judges to reach out to marginalized communities

A judge since 1995, and a passionate social justice advocate, Nova Scotia’s Chief Justice Michael MacDonald is retiring but wants the last word for his confreres in justice:  “Courts need to better understand the communities they serve…It’s really all about education. It’s about humility, I think, as well … Because of course I have the worldview of a white male down pat, but I don’t have the worldview of those who have come from marginalized communities and who have had challenges that I’ve never had,” said MacDonald.  https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5000063?__twitter_impression=true

National Observer – Tracy Sherlock
Jody Wilson-Raybould’s legacy lives on after Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle

Some weeks after Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle that saw Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Reybould switched to Veteran Affairs and replaced by Montreal MP David Lametti, Aboriginal leaders are still dismayed with their estimated loss to the progress of significant change in their relations with government and the laws of Canada.  The First Nations Leadership Council says that the move “signals a wavering commitment to addressing Canada’s colonial history and to realizing a true nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.”  https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/01/29/opinion/jody-wilson-rayboulds-legacy-lives-after-trudeaus-cabinet-shuffle

Wolf Islands Records –
New Video and Music from Pros and Cons – the ground breaking prison music program

Grand Valley Institute for Women and Joyceville Institution, a penitentiary for men are making music and publishing it.  An album called “Undisclosed Location” was recorded inside Grand Valley and a reggae tune from Joyceville called “Delicate Love” are the first offerings from the program supported by the David Rockefeller Fund and a number of national music businesses.  https://wolfeislandrecords.com/news/new-video-and-music-from-pros-and-cons-the-groundbreaking-prison-music-program/   Related Article: Hugh Christopher Brown TED Talk – Rethinking Prison: Music and Life Beyond Punishment – TEDxQueensU   https://wolfeislandrecords.com/videos/rethinking-prison-music-and-life-beyond-punishment-tedxqueensu/  (18 minute video reflection on music in prison)

The Marshall Project – Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
The Waiting Room

The Cook County Jail in Chicago is the largest single site jail in the US.  The article is a powerful description of what inmates and their families go through when a loved one is incarcerated there.  What is the jail known for?  Its history betrays its current reality.   “And so, on the 30th day of March 1929, a type of punishment then described as “compulsory idleness” commenced here and has not let up since. This idleness that was imposed on inmates was even then recognized as a killer of the mind and spirit—the sheer torture of inactivity. And it wasn’t just the idleness, it was the uncertainty. An inmate’s days were filled with waiting—winding down a sentence of indeterminate length, without benefit of knowing when it would end.”   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/10/31/the-waiting-room?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=twitter

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Our prison system keeps getting more dangerous

The evidence for the failure of the reliance on prison as a primary response to crime in the UK is startling as once again the stats on self-harm, inmate suicide, and violence against inmates and guards is released as of January 2019. The report details and offers graphs illustrating the latest results.  “Homicides and suicides in prison both show increases on the previous year.  Incidents of self-harm, assaults on staff and on prisoners all reached their highest ever levels, yet again.”  http://www.russellwebster.com/safety119/   Related article: Ministry of Justice (UK) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/775078/offender-management-quarterly-q3-2018.pdf

Globe and Mail – Editorial (Jan 29, 2019)
How the justice system failed Adam Capay, Sherman Quisses and Canadians

Adam Capay was locked in solitary for four and a half years of his six and half years in jail – without trial.  Capay was charged with killing a fellow inmate Sherman Quisses and the judge stayed the charges on the basis of Capay’s mistreatment and denial of rights.  “The ruling by Justice John Fregeau is subject to a publication ban until at least Feb. 27, the deadline for an appeal. But the media can report that the proceedings against Mr. Capay were stayed “as a remedy for breaches of his Charter rights under ss. 7, 9, 12 and 15 of the Charter.” Those clauses guarantee life, liberty and security of the person, and protect against discrimination, arbitrary detention and cruel and unusual punishment.”   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-how-the-justice-system-failed-adam-capay-sherman/?__twitter_impression=true

CBC News – Dean Beeby
Ottawa drops appeal in political activity case, ending charities’ 7-year audit nightmare

Canada’s charities were once regulated to devoting 1 maximum of 10% of its charitable receipted income to political activity.  The CRA found that one charity, Ottawa based Canada without Poverty devoted 98.5% of its income to what it termed political activity.  Under threat of losing its charitable status, Leilani Farha appealed the regulation and Justice Edward Morton agreed with her.  At first the Liberals agreed to re-write the law and then appealed the case, later relenting and cancelling the appeal.  The lifting of the activity criterion was confirmed in Bill C-86 and had royal assent in December of 2018.  The limitation was surely political in origin and meant to keep charities out of advocacy over bad public policy.  https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5001087?__twitter_impression=true

St. Louis Public Radio (US) – Rachel Lippmann
Gardner Pledges More Court Diversion, Less Cash Bail

Bail and fees are a considerable problem throughout the individual states where the impact on poor people is crippling beyond any reasonable measure.  Unable to raise bail or to pay fees assessed consequent to jail and probation, poor people are a considerable portion of the mass incarceration reality.  While the consequences of the federal system have been highlighted in the recent prison reform movement, the state level justice system is even more problematic.  This article focuses on the use of bail for low level offenses, both felonies (variously defined) and misdemeanors which carry a potential jail sentence penalty. Kim Gardner, the District Attorney, is instructing staff to use summonses and diversion sentencing.  https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/gardner-pledges-more-court-diversion-less-cash-bail?utm_source=The+Appeal&utm_campaign=b79a76ee35-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_09_04_14_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_72df992d84-b79a76ee35-58420099#stream/0   Related reference: An excellent recent publication that offers a comprehensive understanding of the influence on the poor of bail, court fees, jail fees, and probation fees:  Punishment without Crime  by Alexandra Natapoff (Basic Books: New York, 2018)  Related article: The Marshall Project (US)  – Beth Schwartzapfel  When Going to Jail Means Giving Up The Meds That Saved Your Life  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/01/29/when-going-to-jail-means-giving-up-the-meds-that-saved-your-life?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=twitter   Related article: Medium.com – Humza Hussain   The Worst Amongst Us  https://medium.com/@humzahussain/the-worst-amongst-us-be81417bdcb0