Perverse justice…

Sept. 17, 2019

Toronto Star – Richard D. Schneider  (Excerpted from The Death of A Butterfly)
I’m a judge in mental health court. It’s perverse that criminal courts are the main providers of mental health care

Who better – other than professional mental health persons – to opine about the current status of the prisons in mental health care?  The professionals have been saying for years that the prisons are substitute centers for mental health patients but few would ever give good marks for adequate or successful treatment.  The judge’s assessment –“perverse” is a severe warning that the mental health issues need appropriate attention now:  “Mentally disordered individuals are becoming enmeshed in the criminal justice system at alarming rates. Experts tell us that there are now more such individuals in our jails and prisons than there are in our hospitals. Depending upon how you define “mental disorder” between 20 and 80 per cent of Canada’s inmate population suffer from a mental disorder.”

Toronto Star – Editorial (Sept 11, 2019)
Federal leaders should do more to fight Bill 21

One of the curiosity in this federal election is the muted and deliberate silence on Bill 21 in Quebec.  The bill prohibits religious symbols in the workplace and has already caused considerable discomfort and even migration from Quebec, especially by immigrant minorities.  “We speak, of course, of Bill 21, the frankly discriminatory Quebec law that prohibits provincial employees in many “positions of authority,” from teachers to police officers to judges and prosecutors, from wearing religious symbols or headgear at work… There’s no question the law violates the rights of minorities, especially observant Muslims, Sikhs and orthodox Jews.”

KITV4 (ABC) (US) – Nicole Tam
ACLU report: Hawaii needs more programs to help reduce number of people behind bars

The prison reform efforts in the US has already achieved a lot, especially in the focus of how to reduce the mass incarceration.  Likely, reductions should include fewer needless prosecutions, reform from draconian sentences, but also attention given to the needs of those already incarceration and looking to release: the re-entry person.  The ACLU report suggested a few options that start with changes in policy. One includes alternative programs like substance abuse treatment and mental health care.  The adequacy of programs in the prisons likely speak forcefully to the chance for real rehab.  The ACLU identifies programs around addictions as public health issues.  Hawaii also farms out inmates to private prisons in Arizona.  Related article: Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) – Milissa Brown  ‘I will not be silent’: Alabama prisoner alleges retaliation after speaking to media

The Lawyer’s Daily – Jaime Burnet
Trans people in prison: Nova Scotia’s approach

During the Halifax Pride Festival, a panel on Trans gendered people in prison.  The panel, representative of those implicated specially in the issue, was convened to address a Nova Scotia Corrections policy developed by both the Corrections people and Human Rights;  “the policy, which provides that trans and gender-variant people are to be placed in a women’s or men’s unit according to their gender identity or where they feel safest, regardless of their anatomy or the sex designation on their ID.”

APTN National News – Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs
‘Not your father’s council’: Female majority elected in Dene community

The election of seven female members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nations appears to be a historic first, achieved without any great amount of attention or intention, except perhaps one 19 year old who noticed an absence of youth representation.

Global Economic Forum (UK) – Mia Hunt
UK civil service to expand ex-offender recruitment programme

Jobs are always the critical element in re-entry of inmates.  The British civil service is about to intensify its search for candidates from among former inmates; the programme aims to help ex-offenders find meaningful employment in the civil service.  Recruiters will liaise with prison officials and go into the prisons to find suitable candidates.

The Sentencing Project (US) – Marc Maurer
U.S. Prison Population Trends: Massive Buildup and Modest Decline

The frustration yardstick was to make one step forward and two backward.  The measure seems appropriate for the US prison reform efforts, especially as to the overall numbers in the mass incarceration tableau.  Slight gains in 2017 in the reduction of the total number imprisoned are now been eroded by increasing incarceration rates bringing us back to one stark stat: The reduction rate of 1% (Measuring from 2009) will take 72 years to achieved the stated goals at the present rates. “Expediting the end of mass incarceration will require accelerating the end of the Drug War and scaling back sentences for all crimes, including violent offenses for which half of people in prison are serving time.”

CBC News – Habiba Nosheen and Andrew Culbert
Canadian law can’t punish some peacekeepers for sex misconduct abroad — and the UN isn’t happy about it

This report is extraordinary in its assessment that when Canadian Peacekeepers are serving in foreign countries, there is no way presently to charge them or prosecute them for criminal misbehaviour.  The misbehaviour gets investigated by UN people, passed to Canada’s Global Affairs and then to the police force of origin for the accused.  A gap in the criminal code ignores the peacekeeper who is an employee of the UN, rather than of Canada, and the case mostly just dies in place.

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Misconduct case against justice of the peace highlights problems in Ontario’s bail system

This link is not to a discussion about the bail system, nor even about the potential bias and/or control of the system.  It is about one Justice of the Peace, Julie Lauzon, who spoke out publicly about the system and is now subject to a disciplinary hearing.  It would seems that, at times, appropriate boundaries are the issue.