On finding peace…

Nov. 3, 2019

Toronto Star – Kim Zarzour
How a Markham sex assault survivor found justice — and peace

A victim of sexual assault has become the first case to be examined by restorative justice.  Marlee Liss of Markham was assaulted three years ago and recounts that when the court finally agreed to the RJ.  At the hospital later (after the assault), she was given two options — seek a conviction, or let it go.  They were both lose-lose options, both bleak. I knew that if I reported, I’d have to go through this painful process of re-traumatizing. But I didn’t want to just drop it, as if nothing happened.”  When an adjourned trial and court acceptance of RJ happened, she and her mom wept tears of joy.  “It was one of the most meaningful calls of my life.”   https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/11/02/how-a-markham-sex-assault-survivor-found-justice-and-peace.html  Related article: The Crime Report (US) – Emily Mooney and Arthur Rizer  Why Prosecutors Should Add Restorative Justice to Their Toolbox   https://thecrimereport.org/2019/10/31/why-prosecutors-should-add-restorative-justice-to-their-toolbox/?fbclid=IwAR2rBwCalzRzeZGJtF8ji5Qd6o2WLg1GsOy_Am24v6OntU_CNE293Lm0ugo

 CBC News – Mike Crawley
Doug Ford’s legal aid ‘guarantee’ caused big headache for his government, documents show

Ford invited radio listeners to call his office for guaranteed legal aid services and sent both his staff and ministry of justice officials scrambling over the apparent denial of the independence of the Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) and all branches of government.  Said Michael Spratt, a defense lawyer who first acquired the documents involved:  “After promising to help these individuals, the premier’s response is essentially, ‘It’s not my problem, talk to the attorney general,’ knowing full well that the attorney general’s response is, ‘We’re unable to do anything, take up your problems with Legal Aid Ontario.'”   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-legal-aid-guarantee-1.5341159

The Sentencing Project (US) – Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D.
U.S. Prison Population Trends: Massive Buildup and Modest Decline

This is a sobering update on the efforts at reduction of mass incarceration, a massive build-up but a very reluctant decrease in the numbers in prison.  “While most states have downsized their prison populations in recent years, the pace of decarceration is insufficient to undo nearly four decades of unrelenting growth.”  The report also offers some rates in individual states and well as the crime stats for those states.  The estimates, at the current rates of incarceration, can expect success at the half way mark by 2091.  https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/u-s-prison-population-trends-massive-buildup-and-modest-decline/  Related article: Mother Jones – Samantha Michaels   Formerly Incarcerated People Hosted a Historic Town Hall. Only 3 Presidential Candidates Showed Up.   https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2019/10/formerly-incarcerated-presidential-town-call-harris-booker-voters-organized-to-educate/   Related article: The Crime Report (US) – Jails Seen as ‘Failing’ Needs of Incarcerated Women   https://thecrimereport.org/2019/10/30/jails-seen-asfailing-needs-of-incarcerated-women/

CBC News – Windsor, ON
Inmate dead, 1 in hospital after incident at South West Detention Centre

Violence continues in the prison system, this time at the Southwest Detention Centre in Windsor where one inmate is dead and one in hospital.  Correctional officials are saying nothing more at this point.  The jail has been the scene of serious overcrowding, repeated lockdowns and previous violence.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/south-west-detention-centre-windsor-inmate-dead-1.5341219?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar   Related article: Toronto Star (Halifax) – Haley Ryan   Video shows last hours of Halifax man’s life in police cell  https://www.thestar.com/halifax/2019/10/31/video-shows-last-hours-of-halifax-mans-life-in-police-cell.html

The Local (Toronto) – The Prisoner Issue: Editorial
Health, Incarcerated – How the prison system became a ramshackle, underfunded wing of the health care system.

The editorial comment should speak for itself:  “The corrections system is a health care problem—not merely because of the treatment prisoners receive, but because the people entering prison have some of the most complex health and social service needs in the country. People in custody are five times more likely to suffer from serious mental illness than the general population. At least half the prison population reports suffering abuse as children, and a fifth of men in provincial custody in Toronto said they were homeless. Indigenous people make up five percent of the Canadian population, but 27 percent of those in the federal prison system—one of the legacies of colonialism and generations of systemic racism.”  https://thelocal.to/issue-3/

World Economic Forum (Davos) – Ellen Wulfhorst
These are the countries where it’s best to be a woman

Here’s a list of the dozen best and dozen worst countries in which to be a woman, all comparatively graded as well and with commentary.  “While life for women has improved in some 60 countries, it has deteriorated in Yemen and other war-torn nations, research organizations Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo concluded… The researchers looked at 167 countries since 2017 when the first Women, Peace and Security Index was compiled, weighing variables such as access to bank accounts, jobs and security.”  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/10/norway-at-top-yemen-at-bottom-of-rankings-for-womens-quality-of-life/?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2705187_Agenda_weekly-30october2019&utm_term=&emailType=Newsletter   Related article: WeForum (WEF – Davos) – Robert Muggah and Laura Bailey   We can halve most forms of violence by 2030. Here’s how   https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/10/most-forms-of-violence-can-be-halved-by-2030-heres-how/?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2705187_Agenda_weekly-30october2019&utm_term=&emailType=Newsletter

Overcrowding warning over Scottish female prison plans

The link, from 2016, presents the overcrowding crisis in Scotland’s women prison facilities and the options presented by the overcrowding.  The decision to close a larger unit and build instead smaller regional units provokes a comparison with Canada’s decision in the 90’s.  Leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy:  “One of the great scandals is that we have seen a massive increase in the numbers of women going to prison yet no significant change in the seriousness of women’s offending. Women very rarely commit serious crime. It is all low level offending and invariably is as a result of wretched circumstances.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-36427375

CBC News – Roberto Rocha
Fears of election meddling on social media were overblown, say researchers

Data researchers have concluded in retrospect that the social media intentional interference with the Canadian election were more reported than actual incidents.  Though there were some confirmed and concentrated efforts to deceive, the researchers say the media reporting outweighed the actual incidents.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/social-media-bots-trolls-canadian-election-2019-1.5343210