Mar 14, 2019

Manchester Guardian (US Desk, UK) – Peter C. Baker
In Chicago, reparations aren’t just an idea. They’re the law

This is another striking long read from the Guardian; perhaps the story is too bold to be told by the US media.  Jon Burge was a former Chicago police detective and area commander who abused, beat and tortured people with his ‘Midnight Crew’ into confessions of crime.  The story is getting told and discussed in Chicago schools and there is now a city law that requires recompense for such blatant wrongs and civil rights violations.  “The resolution also pledged the city to take two concrete steps to counteract its decades-long tradition of trying to make the Burge story disappear. First, Chicago officials would work with activists to erect a memorial to the city’s police-torture survivors. Second, the city’s public schools would henceforth be required to add “a lesson about the Burge case and its legacy” to the official history curriculum for teenagers. To many of the activists who fought for the reparations package, the curriculum was its most meaningful component, precisely because of what it asked from the city: not money, but time and talk, however awkward or uncomfortable that talk might be.”   Perhaps the story has the beginning of a genuine justice reform.

CBC News
What is life like for women in jail? Author remembers supportive community, but also fellow inmates’ screams

Author and former inmate Ann Hansen puts into words the experience of both deep friendship and loud, deep screams as a recollection of time served in a federal prison.  She writes about the life of one of the Squamish Five, a guerrilla resistance group in BC.  She says:  “To this day, I would say that the strongest relationships I’ve ever had were with the women that I was in prison with…I was struck by what a diverse and interesting group of women they were. They really weren’t any different than people that you would meet on the street.”  Her fellow inmates were “a disproportionate number of inmates who were Indigenous or black, and many who had mental health or addictions issues. Virtually all of them came from very poor backgrounds.”    Related article: Global News – Canadian Press Staff   Investigation to look into death of inmate from N.S. prison for women Global News – Russ Lord   2 suicides at same N.S. women’s prison ‘raises a lot of red flags’: ombudsman   (Also explores the treatment of women with mental health issues in prison.)

The Mainlander – Jakob Knudsen
Stranger Than Kindness: Allyship Versus Support in the DTES

Knudsen is an undergrad at SFU with experience as a support worker for low income supportive housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  Knudsen has a strong analysis of what is happening to community housing.  “The invention of supportive housing has redefined and lowered the standard for social housing as we knew it, replacing relatively independent and autonomous living with a form of paternalism and surveillance… In partnership with local police and other local institutions, supportive housing often shutters and disempowers poor people while keeping them under the thumb of a carceral apparatus operating at municipal, provincial and federal levels.”   Related article: The Lawyer’s Daily – Ian Burns   Legal aid system has ‘lost its way’ in B.C.: report   Related article: Lawyer’s Daily – Terry Davidson   Nova Scotia vulnerable feel ‘helplessness and disappointment’ in accessing justice, official says

New initiative in Ontario…
Restorative Justice Housing Ontario (RJHO)

Led by well-known restorative justice advocate Harry Nigh and Jim Harbell both of Dismas House / Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) in Toronto, the initiative speaks to the need for housing for men and women re-entering community from incarceration.  “Our goal, based on similar models in Montreal and Ottawa, is to find apartments for small groups of former prisoners with support from staff and a committed community of trained volunteers.”  The new group will launch Thursday, March 28th at 4:40 – 6:30PM at Holy Trinity Church .  For more info please use or Eileen Henderson ( ) Tel 1-888-293-9540.

KVUE ABC (Texas) – Alex Samuels, The Texas Tribune
Mom on probation lives under strict rules. Her crime? 1 ounce of marijuana – Sydney Sigler is drug tested regularly, not allowed to drink and not allowed to leave her home county.

Sigler, now a mother of two young children, was single at the time of her arrest, Christmas Day 2013, for about an ounce of marijuana in her car.  The article points out the consequences for her and her family as the conviction continues to play out in her life some years later.  Reflecting on the suggestion that an encounter with criminal justice can actually impoverish a person, Sigler says: “I am a stay at home mother of two and I am by no means a criminal. I have been drug tested multiple times, years after my arrest, which is also expensive and violating. This situation has not only drained my financial savings, but it has also been a humiliating experience. I have been treated like a serious criminal by law enforcement.”   Related article: The Appeal – Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg   Party Guests Suing Over Mass Arrest for Less Than An Ounce of Marijuana

Halifax Today – Matt Brand
Women’s groups support moratorium on restorative justice

Three local women’s support groups have called for an end to the pursuit of restorative justice in cases of demest6ic violence and sexual assault.  The groups are claiming that the process re-victimizes the victims.  Their objection intensifies in cases located in rural Nova Scotia where resources are less available.  The three groups want to engage governments on their dissent.

CBC News – Associated Press
California governor to place moratorium on executions

Gov. Gavin Newsom has given an executive order halting further executions in California, a state with 737 inmates on death row.  Though no one has been executed since 2006 in the state, the governor call the practice ‘a failure’ “that has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation.” He also said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death.”  Newsom has closed down the state’s new execution chamber at San Quentin and is withdrawing the state’s regulation of lethal injections, a matter tied up in the California courts for some time.

Blogger Russell Webster

Webster offers a new report, State of Children’s Rights 2018,   from the Children’s Rights Alliance on the justice system treatment of children, including a growing number of incidents of the use of tasers on children.  Beyond increasing incidents of taser used on children aged 12, (and even 10) the report attacks government failure to address homelessness among children.  Webster’s blog at:   Full report at: