Public health…

July 2, 2020

Toronto Star – Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Advocates in Canada call for community-led crisis intervention, not police

The frequency of police interaction with mentally ill persons and the escalation of violence that accompanies many of these encounters has prompted an approach combining the police and public health.  “Police departments in Halifax, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Kelowna are among those that have partnered with local health-care providers to create mobile response units that pair officers with mental health professionals…They tout these specially trained units as a more effective way of handling calls related to mental health, while advocates say chronic underfunding of mental health services has thrust police into a role for which they’re ill-equipped.”  Many advocates think that the re-definition of both public health and public safety can lead to better solutions.   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Taylor Blewett  Systemic racism, barriers explain higher rates of COVID-19 among immigrant, non-white communities in Ottawa: Experts    Related article: Toronto Star – Jennifer Pagliaro   Can city council abolish the Toronto police force? Eight key questions as council debates defunding the police this week  Related article: Bloomberg Business – Polly Mosendz and  Jameelah D. Robinson While Crime Fell, the Cost of Cops Soared – America’s policing budget has almost tripled since 1977 to $115 billion.   Related article: VERA Institute (US) – What Policing Costs: A Look at Spending in America’s Biggest Cities  (An interactive d-base offering as well the comparative ratio of police to citizens)

CBC Radio –
Lawyer Julian Falconer on Dafonte Miller’s fight for justice

The link is to a 20 minute podcast from Julian Falconer, lawyer for Dafonte Miller, in the recently concluded case against the Therriault brothers for assaulting Miller.  The outcome from the trail has left many puzzled over the process and disappointed with the results where victim Miller, who lost the sight in one eye in the assault, seems to have received the worst with little comfort to other Black Canadians who have had similar experiences with police.  Related article: Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno   Was this the Theriault trial or the Miller trial?   Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   Indigenous youth wonder: who is policing First Nations’ police?   Related article: N.Y. Times -Mike Baker, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Manny Fernandez and Michael LaForgia    Three Words. 70 Cases. The Tragic History of ‘I Can’t Breathe.’

 Boston Review (US) – Marie Gottschalk

The Folly of Neoliberal Prison Reform – Racism ensures that blacks are vastly more likely than whites to be imprisoned. However, there is more to the story.

The point that appears to draw conservatives, and perhaps some liberals as well, to support the decarceration of the prison system is the potential savings found in reducing the prison population.  But even the obvious and inherent racism is not the full story nor do cures for decarceration or racism offer a full vision of justice reform.  “The carceral state is a product of policies that can be undone over a few years, even if the structural determinants of crime remain. To grasp this, one need only appreciate, as experts on crime and punishment generally do, that changes in public policies, not criminal behavior, propelled the decades-long prison boom in the United States.”

Solitary Watch – James Keown
Voices from Solitary: Postcards from a Prison Pandemic

Keown has been imprisoned for two decades in medium security MCI-Norfolk in Massachusetts.  The link is to a series of three articles he wrote over the recent months of the pandemic as the implications and practices changed in the prison.  Keown records a lockdown over the time and acknowledges those inside the prison who thereby became essential workers for the others.  The Covid-19 and the lockdown have become, for the moment, an argument for delay in confronting the practice of solitary confinement.

CTV – Selena Ross
Family of man apparently beaten to death in prison waiting for answers

The link and this prison death remind us that not all violence directed at Black persons in Canada stems from the streets.  In this case, and repeated others, the death of an incarcerated person creates even more mystery and confusion, especially for the family.  Corrections, local police, local hospitals all maintain a conspiratorial silence around the circumstances of the death as described in the article. Shaquille Sacha Joseph was on remand at the Rivière-des-Prairies provincial  prison in the east end of Montreal. “The family of Shaquille Sacha Joseph is having trouble getting information about what happened to him after he was killed in prison.”  So is the man’s lawyer.