Still solitary…

Aug 28, 2020

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Federal, Ontario governments under fire for handling of solitary confinement

Court rulings have found the solitary practices in Canada’s prisons unconstitutional but prison and human right advocates are not at all convinced of any changes, given the lack of information flowing to the 8 member implementation and monitor committee chaired by Professor Anthony Doob.  “In a court document filed on Tuesday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission accuses the province of incompetence, delay and “even resistance” to its own legally binding commitments, undertaken in 2013, and restated in 2018, to make solitary confinement a measure of last resort for inmates with mental-health disabilities, and maintain a 15-day limit for everyone else.”  The federal panel member terms are due to expire shortly but there have been no renewals to date.  Related article: CBC News Federal stonewalling left solitary confinement panel ‘powerless,’ says ex-member  Related article: (Canada) – Justin Ling  The Panel Reviewing Trudeau’s New Solitary Confinement Rules Shuts Down, Saying Government Made Their Work Impossible – The Canadian government isn’t even tracking how many hours a day inmates are being locked in isolation, or for how long.   Related article: CBC News – Canadian Press  Ontario has failed to keep mentally ill people out of segregation in jail: human rights commission – Commission seeking order for prohibition of segregation for anyone with mental health disability Related article: Globe and Mail – Colin Freeze   Ottawa urged to let panel finish work on solitary confinement reforms   Related article: John Howard Society of Canada Resolution Regarding Solitary Confinement   (Ed Note: A PDF with the letter and report from the Panel Chair Professor Anthony Doob is available in PDF but not as yet posted.  Please send a request to have the PDF version.)

  VOX (US) – Sigal Samuel
Germany is launching a new experiment in basic income – Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the government will give some citizens free money.

Starting this month 120 Germans will get $1200 Euros (About $1430 cdn) in an experiment around guaranteed annual income.  The experiment is designed to study the effectiveness of the strategy, especially in the light of the discrepancies brought into focus by the Covid-19 crisis. But this experiment is somewhat unique in that it is not undertaken by government.  “The German Institute for Economic Research is conducting the study. It is funded by 140,000 private donations collected by a nonprofit group called Mein Grundeinkommen.”   Related article: – Sarah Smellie   Major Changes Could Be Coming to Canada’s Welfare System – Advocates have long criticized social-assistance programs as humiliating and over-regulated. Justin Trudeau’s recent moves suggest an overhaul could be coming.

Vanity Fair (US) – September 2020
You said hope!

A delightful article and graphic identifying 22 people with biographies and inspiring words in the struggle for justice!  In defiance of the efforts to promote fear and division.   Related article: Vanity Fair (US) – Ta-Nehisi Coates   The Great Fire – “Whiteness thrives in darkness,” Coates writes. “So it was with the slave narrative. So it is with the cell phone.”

CBC News – Thomas Rohmer
Top Nunavut cop gives more details into how Kinngait man was killed by officer – RCMP commanding officer releases rare details into fatal February shooting of Attachie Ashoona

The shooting was investigated by the Ottawa Police Services and later the territorial government announced it intended for the future to form a civilian review board rather than use other police services for review.  “In the face of mounting pressure for transparency and rising tensions in Kinngait, Nunavut, the territory’s top Mountie made the unusual decision to release details of an investigation into the February shooting death of a man in the community.”    Related article:  Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham   ‘Cops investigating cops doesn’t bring us any justice’: Despite detailed report on Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s death, SIU can’t shake public criticism   Related article: CBC News – Yvonne Sam  Defunding police isn’t the answer, there’s a fundamental imbalance that must be fixed –  The gamut of skills that we ask police officers to incorporate is totally unrealistic

CBC News – Ryan Patrick Jones
Province to build 2 new jails, upgrade 3 others in eastern Ontario

In the midst of all the other mounting demands for funding to fight Covid-19, to confront the social problems attendant, to re-open the schools, this latest announcement about government spending is frightfully inadequate.  The amount and the details are not yet available but intended to build bigger and better jails and prisons – 370 more beds for males and 70 for females. The new amount is additional to the previously announced $500 million to hire and train more correctional guards.   The rationale seems anything but rehab:  “Ford said the extra space will help reduce overcrowding in provincial jails while creating jobs and supporting correctional workers.”  Critic and Professor Justin Piché says:  “We’re expanding our capacity to cage people, to criminalize people living with mental health issues.  It’s unfathomable to me and it should be to others that corrections — a sector that continually fails to live up to its legal standards and obligations, that fails to meet its own objectives — is rewarded in this way.”  Related article: Toronto Star – Victoria Gibson  More than 20 Toronto families have at least one child in protective care due to inadequate housing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, say experts