More than sentence…

April 4, 2020

Tracking the Politics of Criminalization and Punishment in Canada (TPCP Canada) – Souheil Benslimane and Justin Piché

Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendocino, and Health Minister Patty Hajdu in support of #HungerStrikeLaval

The Jail and Accountability Line with Professor Piché of the University of Ottawa have written a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau about action on behalf of inmates facing the pandemic with little response available: “Canada’s continued settler-colonialism and genocide – which now sees Indigenous and other racialized populations incarcerated en masse – and all the oppressive systems built to support it must be dismantled. In the short-term, we demand the release of detained migrants and the decarceration of federal prisoners where possible. They are human and should not be made to face injustices and a disproportionate risk of illness and death. No one is disposable.”   Related article: Kamloops This Week (BC) – Low-risk prisoners being released due to pandemic   Related article: Radio Canada International (RCI)  Ottawa may be ready to move on non-violent prisoner releases    Related article: The Telegram (St. John’s, NF): Tara Bradbury ‘There’s not much any of us can do,’ St. John’s inmates say of COVID-19 virus   Related article: CBC Radio News – Voices from inside: COVID-19 in Canada’s prisons    Related article: The Telegram (UK) – Charles Hymas  Former chief inspector of prisons calls for early release of some inmates to ease coronavirus pressure – Lord Ramsbotham said he was ‘very worried’ that prison staff depleted by virus would not be able to handle crisis

 The Correspondent (UK) – Rutger Bregman
Has the time finally come for universal basic income?

People involved in the criminal legal system have traditionally defined public safety by putting people in jail – you are safe if the bad people are in prison.  The virus has brought many to realize that the definition of public safety requires a far broader definition and understanding.  The deficiency is making itself known now through the precarious status of so many impacted by this virus and whatever may follow.  Many have been living from paycheck to paycheck even if employed and now face food insecurity, housing insecurity, educational upset, dire poverty and increasing health concerns. (We are also seeing environmental pollution decrease.)  Bregman is proposing that these circumstances may lead to overcoming resistance to guaranteed annual income, particularly given the distribution problems around instant government assistance cheques for the unemployed, the under-employed and the recently laid off.  Basic income offers a way to anticipate widespread and desperate needs before the crisis.  The limited evidence to date also challenges the assumption that poor people cannot handle money and are likely to waste what they do nor directly earn.  ‘Free money’ does not make people lazy.  Bergman also references the Winnipeg Mincome experience.    The Toronto Star – Frances Lankin and Kim Pate   Universal livable basic income in times of crisis and beyond   Related tweet:  @KPateontheHill raises the point that #BasicIncome is an is an equitable means to not only address the challenges we face due to this pandemic, but a long-term policy to ensure that Canadians are better prepared for the health crises of the future.   Related article: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – COVID-19: A third of unemployed Canadians will receive nothing from either EI or new CERB –  Analysis shows 862,000 will fall through cracks in income support programs without rapid reforms   Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung   As coronavirus wreaks havoc, these precarious workers have ‘no one to turn to’    Related article: – ‘It’s a Miracle’: Helsinki’s Radical Solution to Homelessness – Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally.   (Ed Note: Taken from the Canadian National Crime Prevention Network Newsletter – lots of other helpful topics here: )

 The Inquirer (MN) – Robin McDowell and Margie Mason, Associated Press
Kids under threat: Coronavirus hitting juvenile detention centers

One the hidden elements of the threat to life and health in the US detention system is the fate of juveniles in secure custody.  The link reviews the national scene for all prisoners and then zeros in on the juvenile scene, about 43,000 in facilities across the US and another 4,000 in adult prisons.   The Crime Report (NY) – Stephen Handelman   ‘Lower Level’ of COVID-19 Health Care Warned for Kids in Custody    Related article: NBC News (US) –  Coronavirus in juvenile detention is a ‘nightmare scenario,’ doctors and advocates say – The coronavirus is already appearing in juvenile detention centers. Experts say it’ll get worse unless children are released. Related article: New York Magazine Intelligencer   ‘We’re Going to All Start Dropping’: Rikers Inmates on Life as Prisoners of COVID-19   Related article: The Intercept – Ryan Grim  Rikers Island Prisoners Are Being Offered PPE and $6 an Hour to Dig Mass Graves  

 Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

The National Parole Board has decided in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic to exclude victims physically from the parole hearings.  A number of victims anxious to have a say about whether their offender is released or not have protested the exclusion to the Ombudsman who has addressed their concerns.