April 17, 2020

Government of Canada
COVID-19 and the Parole Board of Canada

The statement (April 15, 2020) by the National Parole Board lays out the current considerations around the pandemic Covid-19 and the various parties to the consideration of early release or parole as a protection for the prisoner from the virus.   Related article: Forbes (US) – Walter Pavlo   Bureau Of Prisons Implements Phase Six Action Plan, No Mention Of Inmate Releases

National Post – Justin Ling
COVID-19 spurs prison reform from provinces but federal government slow to act – In contrast to Ottawa’s refusal to release low-risk inmates, the provinces have moved quickly — some more than others

The movement to release low risk offenders, those near the end of sentence and those whose parole is already under process and the elderly, is uneven between the federal and the provincial governments.  There appears a stand-off with Trudeau with refuses to answer questions about the prisoners at his press briefings and the provincial government where all except Saskatchewan are already in motion to reduce the populations.  The National Parole Board appears to simply re-state current practice (see above).  Bill Blair, Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, also appears to be missing the action and avoiding the issue. Crown attorneys also appear to downplay the threat from the virus.   Related article: CTV News – Josh Lynn  Two Saskatoon corrections officers test positive for COVID-19: union

CanLII Docs – Lisa Matthews
Bail in the Time of Covid-19

About 70% of those in provincial jails are on remand – denied or unable to meet bail.  Most of the conversation about releasing prisoners to date has a focus on those already convicted.  Matthews has outlined well the impact of Covid-19 on the courts and the bail process, including the federal government and the provincial government response, the Courts response, the response of Corrections Canada, the Ontario Correctional Services. The third part of this briefing is the jurisprudential response under the Criminal Code.!fragment/zoupio-_Toc37220246/BQCwhgziBcwMYgK4DsDWszIQewE4BUBTADwBdoAvbRABwEtsBaAfX2zgGYB2AJh4AYeAFgBsASgA0ybKUIQAiokK4AntADk6iREJhcCRcrWbtu-SADKeUgCE1AJQCiAGUcA1AIIA5AMKOJpGAARtCk7GJiQA   Related article: Global News – Srushti Gangdev  Lawyer alleges unsafe conditions, more COVID-19 cases than reported at B.C.’s Mission Institution

Global News – Brian Hill
Child and spousal support not covered by government’s coronavirus emergency benefit plan

We can and must always ask who is left or badly impacted when an attempt to correct does not reach far enough.  Hill points out that nothing in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in fact reaches child and spousal support, a debt like many others but one more vital for immediate survival when the job and payments stop.  “I have clients who have come to me and said, ‘I don’t qualify for any of these programs. How am I going to feed my children?’” said Michelle Guy, a family law lawyer from Vancouver.”  Related article: National Observer – Carl Meyer   Migrant and undocumented workers plead for help during COVID-19  Related article: CBC News – Nicole Mortillaro    ‘It’s heartbreaking’: Homeless during pandemic left out in the cold — figuratively and literally

City Limits (N.Y.) – Steven Zeidman
Opinion: If Ever There Were a Time for Clemency, It’s Now

Arnie Raimondo is at Green Haven Correctional Facility and has been for 40 years.  Convicted of a double murder and sentence to 50 years, his life in prison may be helpful to witness the potential for genuine change of life and at once the difficulty, despite good preparation and helpful process, to move those in authority.  Related article: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK)  – Richard Garside  Advocacy for Release of Elderly Prisoners (Graph of British age among prisoners, including a novel idea – an estimate of how many prisoners should be released for health safety.)  Related article: CBC News – Hadeel Ibrahim      ‘Someone has to know’: Prisoner sends plea for help from Dorchester