First sting…

July 17, 2020

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
A criminal charge, even minor, can trap Ontarians in a ‘vicious cycle’ of unrelated problems, report finds

Much of the prison reform thinking has brought with it a need to examine the initial exposures of people to the criminal legal system.  This report invites us to consider how the most minor of incidents can lead to a “vicious cycle of recidivism and poverty,” said Jonathan Robart, John Howard’s legal program co-ordinator at the justice and prison reform non-profit.  Said lawyer Caryma S’ad, a specialist in criminal law and in housing law: “It’s a whole interconnected system and if one thing goes wrong, it’s very, very easy for lots of other things to fail in quick succession.”  (Ed note: In the US context, the same failings are powerfully described extensively in Punishment without Crime by Alexandra Natapoff.)  Full John Howard document: Legally Bound (A 58 page downloadable PDF)

Toronto Star Virtual Subscriber’s Panel –
How do we create a fairer, more equitable society?

Panelist are Wendy Gillis, Alyshaw Hasham, and Desmond Cole, moderated by Andrew Cheung.  Discussion starts with defunding police, the job description for police, the Black right to self-defence, police violence as a public health issue, the court remand and bail system, sentencing, Indigenous men and women, linking populations, the institution of policing, policing leadership, etc.

CBC News – Valérie Ouellet and Joseph Loiero
COVID-19 taking a toll in prisons, with high infection rates, CBC News analysis shows

Confirming the projections of advocates supporting the release of as many prisoners as possible to avoid death sentences from Covid-19, this latest CBC estimate puts the risk at over 5 times the general population in provincial prisons and up to 9 times higher in federal institutions.  The latest death, 72 year old Robert Langevin, was on remand at the Montreal Detention Center (Bordeaux Jail) and needed heart, daily medical care and an oxygen mask.  Isolation, aka solitary confinement is a common strategy for special separation and often the prisoners’ failure to make phone calls is the first indication of a problem.  (Link also shows some other Covid-19 details and testing within Canada’s prisons.)

2020 National Restorative Justice Week: (Nov 15-22, 2020)


Invitation to submit to the Resource Kit (To be received by Sept 15) available from:

Christine Lecompte

Restorative Justice Division

Correctional Service Canada | Government of Canada

Tel.: 613-947-7309  | Cell. : 613-277-5349

340 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa, ON K1A 0P9


Washington Post (US) – Katie Shepherd
‘It was like being preyed upon’: Portland protesters say federal officers in unmarked vans are detaining them

The reports are that unidentified but allegedly federal officers of some kind are driving unmarked cars and arresting people in demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.  First reported by the Oregon Public Broadcasting, during the 50th straight night of protests, One arrestee Mark Pettibone told the Post:  “He did not know whether the men were police or far-right extremists, who frequently don military like outfits and harass left-leaning protesters in Portland, Ore. The 29-year-old resident said he made it about a half-block before he realized there would be no escape.”  Pettibone was released without acknowledgment, explanation or charge.  There was no exchange with local Portland police about the presence or actions of these federal officers, nor is there yet any identification of who they were.  Some suspect they were US Marshalls or Homeland Security testing the limits for wider appearances.   Related article: Oregon Public Broadcasting (US) – Jonathan Levinson and Conrad Wilson  Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets

The World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland) – Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret
COVID-19’s legacy: This is how to get the Great Reset right

“The fault lines of today’s world – most notably: social divides, lack of fairness, absence of cooperation, failure of global governance and leadership and the critical degradation of our natural assets – lie exposed as never before, and many now feel the time for reinvention may have dawned.”  The billions to fight the impact of Covod-19 are not a cost, but an investment…Read on.

Centre for Crime and Justice Study (UK) –
Dame Vera Baird QC on domestic violence…

The Victim’s Commissioner, Baird is of the opinion that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in prosecutions for rape, a decline in the prosecution of sex crimes and domestic violence.  The problem is more pronounced in the Covid-19 crisis which has seen considerable increase in the incidents of domestic violence consequent to the stay-at-home policies.  Currently, rape, say advocates, is not prohibited but regulated.  Baird acknowledges that the problem can never be sufficiently addressed by enforcement but requires a broader solution such as suggested by Justice Matters for Women’ programme.  Justice Matters for Women:

N.Y. Times (US) – Seyward Darby
White Supremacy Was Her World. And Then She Left. To stop hate, we have to understand it.

“The most basic definition of hate is personal animus, but there is a more useful, and frightening, description: Hate is a social bond — a shared currency — and it abhors a vacuum.”  White supremacy is not just a hatred from one person to another but a social relationship to other haters that is justifying and sustaining – “a need for validation, visibility and purpose. For someone like Ms. Olsen, hate becomes a cure for loneliness.”

 McGill International Review – Madelyn Evans
Restoration and Retribution: A Tale of Two Criminal Justice Systems

The link presents the differences between the histories of the US and Norway that produced two radically different approaches to crime and prison, highlighted in statistical comparison.  “Norway’s leading global example (based on RJ) arguably carves the path towards a more humane approach to both criminality and the nature of justice itself. Successful reform in the US will require an ideological shift in the way Americans view the purpose of criminal justice so that prisons can be culturally understood as places to rehabilitate individuals back into the community, rather than mechanisms to perpetually punish past mistakes with no restorative way forward.”