May 20, 2020

Business Insider – Thomas Coulson
Spain is about to bring in a basic income scheme which the government thinks will ‘stay forever’

Up to a million poorer families will shortly receive a guaranteed annual income, making Spain the first European nation to embrace the GAI which will cost between 3 and 3.5 billion Euros.  The added income will vary according to the current family income.  The plan, first formulated a year ago, has been accelerated by the impact of the Coronavirus and is designed to encourage employment rather than avoid a job by allowing recipients to receive the GAI while employed.

Payday Report (US) – Mike Elk
Prison Labor Replaces Striking Garbage Workers in New Orleans

Garbage workers in New Orleans have had enough.  They are striking for better pay and hazard pay for collecting potentially Coronavirus infected garbage.  Management fired the unionized workers and hired prisoners instead at $1.33 / hour from a nearby parish.  “Metro Services Group has long been an advocate of helping persons who had been incarcerated return to society in a meaningful and productive way,” said the city’s sanitation services in a statement. “Metro makes no apologies for this policy as a core element of our commitment to being good corporate citizens.”  There ought to be a law!

Lawyer’s Daily – Amanda Jerome
Bail, sentencing impacted as jail could be ‘death sentence’ during pandemic, lawyer says

At any given moment, about 70% of those in jail are people on remand who have not been convicted of any crime but who are simply denied bail or unable to arrange bail.  Besides the bail issues, Daniel Brown, lead counsel at Daniel Brown Law LLP and a specialist in criminal law, says that judges for the most part are looking for ways to engage the most elementary supervision in order to release people arrested but are not deemed a threat to public safety.  “We know that you can’t social distance in custody. We know that they [inmates] don’t have appropriate sanitation abilities. You just don’t have the ability to protect yourself against this virus in jail.”

New Yorker – Sarah Stillman
Will the Coronavirus Make Us Rethink Mass Incarceration?  Community groups have pointed out the social costs of the prison system for decades. Now the pandemic has exposed its public-health risks.

This is an article that uncovers a host of prejudicial, senseless policing and law courts activity to say nothing of prison practices.  Beyond the discrimination to Blacks found in the article, there is an exposé of the social and financial penalties imposed on poor people.  The circumstances of the lady in this case leaves no room for anything but condemnation on all counts:  “Roslyn Crouch, a mother of twelve, left her house in New Orleans to stock up on toilet paper and canned goods, and didn’t return. Crouch, who is forty-two, with slender braids down to her knees, had been feeling anxious about the spread of the coronavirus. At home, she cared for her elderly mother, and for a half-dozen children, including a son with sickle-cell anemia, a blood disorder. She herself had chronic bronchitis, and worried that it put her at risk.”  The article implies that the offenses for which she was held are worthy of entirely shattering the lives of an entire extended family and are sufficient to put Roslyn at risk of Coronavirus in jail.  This is a genuinely deplorable example of the law gone wild.  Just as Black people suffer immensely and unfairly, so do women and families when jailed for “survival crimes.”   Related article: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – When a Two-Year Sentence Becomes a Death Sentence – The refusal to let pregnant people out of prison shows just how deep our mass incarceration obsession runs — particularly in Indian Country.

PEW Foundation (US) – Dana Shoenberg
States Can Safely Reduce Juvenile Populations – Lessons From Juvenile Justice Reforms Could Help Reduce Pandemic’s Impact on Confined Youth – Research and state experiences show population reductions can be done safely

An element largely ignored during the Coronavirus / prisoners discussion is the impact on young offenders.  The Pew foundation is drawing attention to the practice of reducing the young offenders in custody and the public health wisdom of doing so, suggesting that the two coincide for the betterment of juvenile justice. Many states are both releasing youth and at once refusing further incoming offenders.    Sentencing Project (US) – U.S. Prison Decline: Insufficient to Undo Mass Incarceration

Cowichan Valley Citizen (BC)
Universal income would put Canada financially ahead – It has been done with success in a number of countries; we are just behind the times.

So far, the discussion on the Guaranteed Annual Income as a substitute for the current tiered and often in a silo welfare system has been relatively quiet.  Here’s a letter to the editor by a person with a famous name suggesting that government would come out financially better off!   Related article: National Observer – Martin Birt   High social value workers must never become invisible again


Some Twitter advice on where we have been and where we are going from the Prison Reform Movement (US): (Click once on the photo for the full picture.)

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis and Alyshah Hasham
Are women’s police stations a solution to domestic violence in Canada?

There are no holding cells.  The stations have playrooms and brightly flowered patterns on the walls.  The stations are designed for victims, not offenders.  Originally from the 1980’s and Brazil, “…Whether it could do the same in Canada — where a woman or girl was killed every 2.5 days in 2018, according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability — is now under review by a leading expert on violence against women.”