Still moms…

April 24, 2019

 Elizabeth Fry Society (Ottawa)
No mother left behind…

We have often written about the criminal justice system in Canada and its impact on women.  Needless to say, as many as 7 of 10 women in jail are also mothers separated from children at home or perhaps with relatives or child welfare agency.  EFry is one of the most powerful spokespersons for the women in conflict with the justice system.  We salute them for their solidarity with these women, for their persistent presence over many years with these women, for their enthusiastic and supportive vision of second chances, for their faithfulness to their ideals of justice.  The link (a four minute video) is part of a fund raising effort but it helps us understand and be inspired by their perspective as well.

 Ottawa Citizen – Joanne Laucius
Suicide policies in Canada and beyond: What’s working and what needs to change

This link is a good point of reference for a subject matter often buried in reporting and statistical analysis.  Suicide is considered a public health issue but efforts to prevent or better anticipate the incidents of suicide are rare. Dr. Simon Hatcher, a psychiatrist and researcher in clinical epidemiology at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Ben Leikin offer strategies while Laucius offers a perspective on international programs already in place, including the Detroit Henry Ford Health System model and the Nuremburg model before looking to a national strategy for Canada.

BC Tyee – Zoë Ducklow
Are Conservative Senators Going to Kill Law Protecting Indigenous Rights?

Almost a year ago, the House of Commons passed a law to honour the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People but it has been stalled in the Senate.  Fears are growing that the delay will mean that the bill dies on the order paper unless it is approved by the Senate prior to the next election, now precariously close.  The UN declaration was also part of the last Liberal election platform.  Both Liberals and Conservatives appear to be playing the blame game.

Washington Post – Lisa Rein
Trump administration’s proposed hiring requirement alarms criminal justice reform advocates on left and right

Having barely approved the First Step Act, the victory is short lived, at least as far as secondary punishment and re-victimization on re-entry is concerned.  Housing and jobs are two very large obstacles when inmates are released from prison.  The new federal job application will require a disqualifying acknowledgement of anyone who had a pre-trial diversion and avoided a criminal record.  The measure seems to defeat the purpose of the Act in reducing mass incarceration and its denial of second chances.

Maytree Foundation –
Social Assistance Summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries report how many people are receiving different social assistance programs across Canada and how that has changed over time.” The link offers a province by province (with the territories) description of the individual province social assistance program.  Then the link offers the details, statistics and resources that go with the program.  The resources are further links to the operational data of the program and these data are downloadable.  Canada wide data is also linked.  Advocates and social agencies have an excellent resource in this Maytree material.  The material downloads in a spreadsheet or a pdf file.

 CBC News
Labrador corrections gets $1M expansion to house female inmates

Everybody knows about Muskrat Falls hydro development and lots of people in Labrador are resisting the development by demonstrating outside the gates and getting arrested.  Problem is there is limited custodial capacity and women arrestees get sent to the provincial prison for men in St. John’s, itself a relic of the past.  The new money is for building an addition to the Happy Valley / Goose Bay jail that has a capacity of 53 inmates.   The silly argument for this decision is that the ladies arrested can be closer to home and won’t have to continue going to St. John’s to be locked up.  Anyone asking about alternatives?  There is a similar controversy with the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre in Ontario.

Edmonton Star – Omar Mosleh
 Alberta home to disproportionate number of extremist groups, report says

An Alberta study of hate groups and violence has decided that Alberta has more such groups than most provinces.  The Organization for the Prevention of violence has issued a report called Extremism and Hate Motivated Violence in Alberta.  The report acknowledges that there are more foreign fighters departing from Alberta but also says that there is a significant growth in militia groups and in white supremacist memberships.  The actual report is to be released next month but the researcher provided media with a draft copy.  Related article: Edmonton Journal – Jonny Wakefield   Extremist groups in Alberta detailed in first-of-its-kind report   CBC – Josée St-Onge Social media fuelling rise of ‘new generation of extremism’ in Alberta, report says

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Excessive use of restraint and solitary confinement of our children in custody

This is a disturbing report by government itself on the use of restraints and solitary confinement on children in the UK.  “These cause physical distress and psychological harm in both the short and longer term, and are clearly not compliant with human rights standards.”  The report extends from custodial facilities to treatment centers and insists there are human rights issues for their use, suggesting minimal use and exceptional circumstances only.   Full Report: (45 page downloadable pdf)   Youth detention: solitary confinement and restraint

Independent Women’s Forum
Unintended Consequences of Restorative Justice (US) – Inez Stepman, Senior Policy Analyst

This is an unusual article in that it offers some of the resistance to restorative justice in schools.  RJ is popular where there is a considerable disciplinary problem in schools system wide, often racially tainted and establishing the school-to-jail pipeline.  This particular view may not represent accurately what most practionners would think of RJ but it may well be a popular view and one preventing a greater embrace of RJ principles.  (Policy pdf. 6 pages)   Related article: Edmentum Blog – Brita Hammer  Transforming Suspension Practices Using Restorative Justice  Related article: Gentilly Messenger (New Orleans, LA) – Byron Goodwin and Zelda Smith  Travis Hill School gives kids a chance  

The Appeal (US) – Meg O’Connor
‘It Was Almost Worse Than the Incident Itself’

Justice stories around rape can quickly turn to great sympathy for the victim when the authorities make the process of legally confronting the incident almost as bad as the incident itself.  The NY police have a declining rate of clearance for rape in 2018 because as many as 500 of the reported victims – about 24% – have decided not to co-operate with them even when there is physical violence and stalking beyond the rape itself.  There is also some evidence for a higher than expected unfounded rape statistic in some boroughs of N.Y.