Prisons and US Justice…

Aug 24, 2019

 The (US)
How Warren and Sanders would overhaul the criminal system
US Presidential candidates spell out justice reform platforms – Elizabeth Warren:
My plan for a comprehensive justice reform:  Rethinking Public Safety to Reduce Mass Incarceration and Strengthen Communities

Bernie Saunders: Justice and Safety for All

Shadow Proof – Brian Sonenstein
Elizabeth Warren’s Flawed But Well-Intentioned Proposal For Banning Private Prisons

The policy of a primary focus on prison for profit in the reform agenda, says Sonenstein, is short sighted because the objectionable practices and misguided philosophies are common to all prisons, private or not.  Many of the needed reforms stem from local and state practices and any reform stemming from the top – US federal government – will not likely have any real impact on the justice system more broadly defined.  Sonenstein also wants a clear decarceration strategy.

CNN – Devan Cole
Bernie Sanders unveils plan to overhaul country’s ‘dysfunctional criminal justice system’

Sanders’ plan for the reform of the justice system also tackles private prisons but sees the entire system as dysfunctional.  Sanders wants to end cash bail and civil asset forfeiture and wants a prisoner bill of rights that guarantees living wage and educational access.  “As part of his proposed criminal justice overhaul, Sanders aims to change the way policing works by “creating an unarmed civilian corps of first responders” that would respond to “low-level” issues like homelessness and mental health emergencies.”

Pew Foundation Trusts –
Public Safety Performance Project: To Safely Cut Incarceration, States Rethink Responses to Supervision Violations – Evidence-based policies lead to higher rates of parole and probation,

The link looks at the performance of the individual states on the probationary services and questionable revoked probation empowering increased prison population. The discussion includes ‘technical violations’ and recidivism rates.  The rational and the stats are presented from the perspective of public safety considerations and evidence based indications.  (There are additional links on a variety of current prison reform topics at:    Related article: Pew Foundation Trusts – Michigan’s Mystery: Jails Fill While Crime Drops (There are a number of related links for current research at the site, including excellent graphics.)

Texas Prison conditions – C. Leonard
True honor

The link is to a series of tweets by advocate Leonard around the prison conditions in Texas consequent to the heat and humidity for inmates, some of whom endure a heat / humidity combination at 110 degrees.  Leonard also reminds us that children and families under immigrant detention are also experiencing the extreme temperatures.  The thread touches on moral and religious motivation and raises some challenge to the notion that those in prison deserve what they get, suggesting instead an alternate standard: true honor.

CBC News – John Paul Tasker
Canadian woman faces lifetime ban after getting caught with CBD oil at U.S. border

Despite the fact that cannabis is legal in both Canada and Washington state, it and all its derivatives are not in the purview of the US federal government whose laws rule border crossings.  The consequences of carrying a small bottle of CBD oil used for medical treatment of pain are horrendous for anyone wishing to cross the border, especially on a regular basis.  “Thousands of Canadians have been denied entry to the U.S. simply for admitting they’ve smoked a joint once in their lives. Others have been banned from entering the country for life for carrying cannabis products to the border — a punishment that this unsuspecting CBD oil user could now face as well, according to immigration experts.”  Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Julius Melnitzer   Chaos at the border: How Trump’s immigration policies are roiling Canadian business travellers’ plans  

Toronto Star – Heather Scoffield
Income-gap figures don’t speak to deepening poverty

There seems to be an academic murmur that income gaps are staying steady as you go, not getting worse and not getting better.  Many have thought there is a widening gap.  But surprisingly when people working street level look at the welfare system and food banks, single young males are repeatedly coming up as missed in a welfare system that caters to the single mom.  The males lose a job, discover a lack of skills to recover in a new job and flounder in the system.  “They’ve gone from job to job, they owe money on their rent and credit cards, their skills are obsolete.”

Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno
Judge gives editor of vile Your Ward News maximum sentence — and regrets it couldn’t be longer

An editor and a publisher of a free tabloid in Toronto called ‘In Your Ward’ have been sentenced to jail time for hate publishing in both free paper and on-line publication.   James Sear, editor, got a year – two consecutive 6 months sentences while the publisher, Leroy St. Germaine, is still to be sentence.  Observers think Ontario Court Judge Richard Blouin bent over to be fair and to avoid any possible grounds for appeal while regretting the limit on the possible sentence.  “To summarize,” Blouin wrote in the sentencing decision released Thursday, “the publication glorified Nazism and Adolf Hitler, and denied the Holocaust. It consistently blamed, demonized and maligned Jews. Women were represented as inferior, immoral, and less than human. Physical and sexual violations against them were counselled and celebrated.”  Still Blouin refused a crown’s request to prohibit the publication itself

Yale Climate Connections (US) – Samantha Harrington
How climate change threatens public health – Major medical groups call climate change ‘a true public health emergency.’

The link offers an explanation of the impact of severe heat on us: Heat-aggravated illnesses, Respiratory illnesses, Diseases transmitted by insects and arachnids, Access to safe food and water, Safety and well-being during extreme weather and finally a commentary on preparing for the future.