Digital bail…

July 20, 2019

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
Soon, intelligent machines could help decide whether to keep people in jail. It’s time to prepare

Justice reformers all recognize that bail is a major issue in fairness in the legal system.  It is often used in response to the fears of crowns, often depends on ready access to cash, often used to jail people for prolonged periods without convictions, and in the case of refugee claimants can be an on-going default to repatriation.  Here comes Fahad Diwan and his Smartbail, software to record required information and assess the three criteria for bail: a flight risk, likely to re-offend and likely to comply with imposed conditions.  An algorithm can do it better and faster and likely fairer.  “It is only a matter of time before machine-learning technology will make its way into Canadian bail courts, experts say, and we need to be prepared.”  Some want assurances of ways to confront fallible AI.

CBC News – Brennan MacDonald and Vassy Kapelos
Ottawa stands by U.S. as safe third country, despite new border policy

Canada’s border influx of US residents fleeing the expiry of their extended stay and due to be repatriated to countries where the conditions have not improved in the interim prompted Canadian advocates such as Amnesty International to suggest the termination of the US as a safe third country.  The US status gives Canada the ability to deny refugee consideration to anyone already in a safe third country.  “The United Nations’ refugee agency said Monday that the new U.S. policy jeopardizes asylum protections and is out of step with international obligations… The UN High Commissioner for Refugees “believes the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations.”

Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno
Zhebin Cong’s flight from CAMH — and Canada — leaves more questions than answers

NCR is the designation for a person found not guilty of a serious crime because he/she is found to be not-criminally responsible by the court and justice system.  The finding usually also involves custody in a mental health secure facility until the illness is determined to be under control.  In this case, Zhebin Cong, a 48 year old, simply walked out of the CAMH, without shoes even, and later left Canada by boarding a plane.  CAMH and Toronto police got their signals mixed on the reported disappearance and nothing happened for two weeks.  All procedures are under review, including the federal government’s around NCR.

Global News (Halifax) – Jesse Thomas
Innocence Canada says government should offer ‘compassionate’ compensation to Glen Assoun

This is another article illustrating the difficulty of a rigid legal system to correct, reverse injustice and attempt to fix harm done.  Ron Dalton, the co-president of Innocence Canada, calls the Glen Assoun case one of the worst examples of injustice he’s ever seen.  The case has had RCMP suppression and destruction of evidence.  Assoun spent 17 years behind bars and the Innocence Project spent five years on the appeal.  He is the 24th such case and now the question is what does justice owe the 64 year who is in poor health and unable to work. Nova Scotia’s Minister of Justice Mark Furey retired from the RCMP after 30 years of service and entered politics; he has referred the matter to the commissioner of conflicts of interest.

BC Tyee – Paul Willcocks
Canada’s Divisions Are Hardening – Two polls show we’re succumbing to populist emotions that drove Trump’s rise

We may be still a while away from the next federal elections but the analysts are furiously projecting.  Willcocks is suggesting that confusion in what the issues are invites us to fall further in a polarity without solutions.  “But when we no longer even agree on problems, our version of democracy doesn’t work. We’re divided into camps, staring at each other with incomprehension, scorn or, occasionally, hatred.”

Toronto Star – Gilbert Ngabo
Illegal cannabis dispensary reopens after Toronto walls off entrance with concrete blocks

Who would have thought that legalizing medical and recreational marijuana would lead to cement blocks to close unlicensed shops?  The measure may be indicative of the stumble steps in the roll out of the sales but may also indicate, as previously reported, that the prices / profits and supply shortage for the licensed shops is the biggest encouragement for the defiance of the city efforts to restrict the retail sales.

Toronto Star (Vancouver) – Jenny Peng
Four bags of garbage in three years: How a busy Vancouver couple lives and preaches the low-waste lifestyle

Here’s encouraging news for anyone perplexed by the myriads of specific pre-occupations with environment but lost about how to personally nurture solutions.  A couple in Vancouver has an astonishing capacity to reduce personal garbage by embracing some principles they are willing to share.  Elisabeth Ormandy and Oliver Giving tell all about their methods for low waste lifestyle.   Related article: Toronto Star – Kenyon Wallace   10 takeaways from the Star’s Undeniable climate change series

The Intercept (US) Voices – Vanessa Taylor
The Three Intersecting Reasons Ilhan Omar Gets Singled Out

The Representative from Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2019, Ilhan Omar has become the target of Trump, the Republicans and even the Democrats.  A novice in the national political game, her predicament as a focus of hatred begs more information.  The link offers an examination of her Black, Muslim and woman prompts in the context of the history of slavery and women in the US.   Related article: Chatelaine – Piya Chattopadhyay    Why I’m Fed Up With Being Told To ‘Go Back Where I Came From’ – For years, I’ve told myself not to let those words bother me. But they do. And why shouldn’t they? The only place I’m from is Saskatoon.  (Piya is a CBC radio host.)  Related article: Globe and Mail  / We Charity   Examining our racial biases

The Philadelphia Inquirer (US) – Editorial (July 15, 2019)
Prison gerrymandering unfair to Philadelphia and other cities | Editorial

In the US, inmates in prison are not entitled to vote in most states.  When a census is done, the inmates are counted as belonging to the place of residence when arrested.  Washington, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and California count inmates accordingly when determining electoral districts by requiring prisoners to be counted at their pre-incarceration address.  Some, like Pennsylvania, use the inmate numbers to strengthen the count for rural vs urban political gerrymandering, since prisons are almost inevitably in rural districts.

The Marshall Project (US) – Christie Thompson
Two Friends Were Found Guilty of the Same Murder. Only One Is Free. His co-defendant was acquitted based on new evidence, but prosecutors are still fighting to keep Andrew Krivak in prison.

This link is helpful in putting in the spotlight the value of a confession in blocking the appeal of a person convicted.  Two men, Krivak and Anthony DiPippo were convicted in separate trials on the same evidence with the exception that Krivak confessed after being told falsely he failed the lie detector test and after seven hours of questioning by police.  The case raises the issue of false confessions and how frequently it occurs under aggressive police interrogations.   Related article: BET –  Marjua Estevez   “We Survived This”: Exonerated 5 Members Discuss Channeling Anger, Living Without Regret And Inspiring Future Generations