Religious guns…

Feb. 19, 2020

 Washington Post (US) – Reis Thebault
Too small to hire guards, too worried to go gun-free, community churches are now arming themselves

The curious link between religion and politics have never been so blatantly juxtaposed as in this development.  Using arguments heard for a long time by 2nd amendment supporters in the gun control debate, an increasing number of churches are welcoming and lobbying for legislation that allows those with conceal-carry permits to bring their guns to church and to be volunteer security for the worship services.  Faced with a 35% increase in mass killings at church from 2014-18, increasingly state law-makers are accommodating the change.

Marshall Project (US) – Toby Tooley as told to Maurice Chammah
I Struggled to Help a Prisoner. In Norway, I Found a Better Way – “We took off his wrist restraints and gave him pen and paper. He drew up a storm.”

The issue of the mentally ill locked up in intolerable circumstances is common enough in prison circles.  Clearly, a prison is no place for the mentally ill, but once there what can the guards do?  This link, introducing a captain of the Correctional Guards at Salem Penitentiary in Oregon,  offers the insights of Norway’s prisons and the realization that doing the same failed thing to alleviate behavioural problems adds to the insanity.  The link offers a momentary reprieve.   (Amend is a US public health approach that is working to connect Norway practices:    Related article: Washington Post (US) – Hannah Natanson, John Woodrow Cox and Perry Stein   Trump’s words, bullied kids, scarred schools – The president’s rhetoric has changed the way hundreds of children are harassed in American classrooms, The Post found

The Manchester Guardian (UK) – Benjamin Moffitt
The trouble with anti-populism: why the champions of civility keep losing

Here’s treat for all who are frustrated that resistance to populous opinions and movements seem destined to failure from the start.  A long read from the Guardian, the article divides all into populists and anti-populists and presents a contrast for our reaction when Moffitt asks how to define normality in politics and what defines a third alternative to the polarity.  Then he invites consideration of the criticism of each polar position and offers this conclusion: “The reality is that we are no longer living in either of these situations. The question is which side will snap out of its daydream first – and in the long term, what the ultimate cost will be if we choose to stay asleep.”

Hill Times (Canada) – Peter Mazereeuw
Down 20 rural seats, Liberals go back to the well on gun control

Maybe this claim will explain why the Liberals have shied from responding to the insistence by cities across Canada that hand guns are a greater problem than long guns.  “C-71, which put in place new requirements for tracking gun sales and inventory, and applying for gun licenses. The bill passed last June despite concerted opposition from the Conservatives and pro-gun advocacy groups.”  The Bill deals with assault rifles.  The article identifies ridings in the last election where the Liberals lost by less than 5% of the vote and in which gun control issues were part.

Ottawa Citizen – Catherine Latimer, John Howard Canada
Canada’s universal health care stops at the gates of federal prisons

Who would have thought that there existed such a gap in the universal health care that we Canadians brag about so much to our US neighbours?  Latimer says: “The protections of the Canada Health Act, which safeguard our much valued universal health care, do not apply to federal prisoners.”  The issue raises not only health issues but also human rights issues around additional punishment beyond imprisonment:  “I spoke with one prisoner who was told that he would not get needed hip replacement surgery because it was too expensive and who has been denied any pain relief for the excruciating condition.”  For those in segregation the denial of medication is more problematic, as is finding someone to be accountable.

 USA Today (US) – Lici Beveridge, The Clarion-Ledger
Mississippi prison crisis: 18th inmate dies since Dec. 29, second in 24 hours

Most of the 18 deaths have occurred at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and a federal Justice Department investigation is already underway. Parchman started as a prison farm practicing slave labour under the notorious Jim Crow laws and is the main maximum security prison in Mississippi.  Problems exist as well in three other prison where there is considerable unrest and inmate rioting.   Related article: Mississippi Today – Michelle Liu and Adam Ganucheau  Civil rights probe into Mississippi prisons officially opened, Justice Department confirms   Related article: PBS – Jan 29, 2020 – Hannah Grabenstein   Inside Mississippi’s notorious Parchman prison

Manchester Guardian (UK) – Josh Halliday
Durham’s pioneering police scheme slashes reoffending rates – scheme allows offenders to avoid prosecution if they take part in rehabilitation programme

What happens when the tried and true is decidedly thrown out and something else is applied to the traditional approach to criminal justice?  To judge by the results of this Durham experiment in the North of England one gets to slash the re-offending rate and empty the prisons!  Known as deferred prosecutions, those charged with crimes of violence, theft, drugs and property damage get a choice for the usual prison focused approach or for a four month contract with police around mental health and addictions treatment.  If the contract is fulfilled, the person walks away without a criminal record.  If not, it’s back to the traditional.  “Under the Durham program, called Checkpoint, offenders spend four months with a police supervisor who helps them access support for issues including mental health, to drug or alcohol use, homelessness and communication skills. Of the 2,660 offenders involved in the trial to date, only 166 (6%) have reoffended.”  Savings per 1,000 offenders are estimated at two million pounds per year.