Weep, for us all…

Aug. 31, 2020

 MacLean’s Magazine – Paul Wells
Another farce on Bill Blair’s watch – How badly do things have to go for a government-appointed panel to shut down because it got no usable data and no help from the minister?

The link offers the narrative of the government assignment to Professor Anthony Doob to assess the implementation of the Correctional Services (CSC) response to the court mandated use of solitary confinement in federal prisons.  The CSC solution was “structured intervention units (SIUs)” where prisoners could be kept for maximum of 20 hours per day with access to others.  Doob led a panel of 8 others to see how the implementation was working.  It wasn’t and it didn’t, all with the deliberate intent of both CSC and the government to obscure the issue by refusing the necessary data to the panel for its assessment, despite complaints about the futility the panel had encountered.    https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/another-farce-on-bill-blairs-watch/  Related article: Vice.com – Justine 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.  https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/g5png9/the-panel-reviewing-justin-trudeaus-new-solitary-confinement-rules-shuts-down-saying-government-made-their-work-impossible?   Related article: Vice.com – Justin Ling   Head of Panel Reviewing Solitary Confinement Blasts Trudeau Government – Criminologist Anthony Doob says he won’t accept a reappointment to lead the independent review panel without serious changes given his treatment by Correctional Services Canada and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.   https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/z3e5qa/head-of-panel-reviewing-solitary-confinement-blasts-trudeau-government-says-he-wont-return?__twitter_impression=true&s=09   Related article: Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies – Emilie Coyle, Executive Director of CAEFS    Oversight of Segregation in Prisons not Operative: The Abolition of the Practice of Segregation is Necessary and Urgent – “We need real transformation in our justice system and in our communities. We can no longer settle for prison reforms that seek only to rebrand and make palatable what is undeniably an inhumane practice: a practice that disproportionately impacts and harms Indigenous women, and prisoners with mental illness.”    https://www.caefs.ca/news-release-oversight-of-segregation-in-prisons-not-operative-the-abolition-of-the-practice-of-segregation-is-necessary-and-urgent/

CBC News – Raffy Boudjikanian
More Canadian federal prisoners waiting for opioid treatment – Wait lists grew from March to June 2020, with Alberta showing largest increase

Everyone understands that the prison system is one of the places filled with people addicted to opioids.  What is now surfacing is a failure to treat medically those prisoners with drugs like Suboxone to relieve the tortures of the addictions. Wait list abound throughout the federal prison system.  “In the 52 penitentiaries run by the federal government, 494 inmates are on a wait list, an increase from 447 in March, the last month Ottawa publicly posted numbers.”  Dr. Lori Regenstreif, an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., recognizes that addiction is like a chronic disease and “says federal correctional facilities too often examine opioid agonist treatment through a correctional lens rather than a public health lens.”   https://www.cbc.ca/news/opioid-agonist-treatment-wait-list-leslie-1.5704543

 CBC News – Eric Rankin
CRA’s handling of COVID-19 benefit cyberattacks ‘reprehensible,’ alleges proposed class-action lawsuit – Compensation sought for at least 14,500 CERB and CESB applicants whose identities may have been stolen

No one is yet sure of the scope of the breaches of security at the Canada Revenue Agency but lots are alarmed at the potential for continuing personal and financial stress brought on by hackers getting personal data from their applications for Covid-19 emergency relief benefits.  The two programs impacted are the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) and the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).   Says one of the three lead plaintiffs:   “I am only 19 years old. I’m worried that I’m going to have to combat this issue for the rest of my life. And that seems pretty daunting.”   https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5705796?__twitter_impression=true&s=09   Related article: Basic Income Canada  The Case for a Basic Income   https://twitter.com/basicincomecdn/status/1299794215241756681

Toronto Star – Royson James
Disrespected, disenfranchised, diminished and dehumanized, Black people will one day run out of patience. And then we will run out of time.

The link is a timely reflection on both what will prompt Black people to run out of patience is the face of systemic racism and how long before the present overall patience runs out of resistance to more aggressive pursuits.  Says James:  “Violent opposition to the conditions of Living While Black is not my wish. It’s my unimaginable fear… Oppression has a way of birthing breakaway guerrillas — possibly formed from a broken-down subset or cohort or demographic with nothing to lose except greater grievances than the aggrieved. We are a good way down that road.” https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/08/28/disrespected-disenfranchised-diminished-and-dehumanized-black-people-will-one-day-run-out-of-patience-and-then-we-will-run-out-of-time.html

CBC News – Thomas Rohner
  Nunavut, RCMP in talks to send mental health workers on police calls – Talks between the RCMP and Nunavut Justice Department are at the ‘very beginning,’ commander says

The Nunavut Territorial government and the RCMP have had considerable conflict about deaths at the hands of the police, recently aired when the Territory spoke of changing the practice of having police from other jurisdictions investigate deaths by territorial police.  “Jones said a lot of media attention stemming from the movement to defund police has been negative, but she agrees with its emphasis on mental health needs.”  This announcement while very preliminary, may be the start of a new approach to policing for Nunavut.   “I totally agree with more mental health. I think the police have always said, we go to too many files that don’t really belong to us. But we’re the last one standing,” she (Chief Superintendent Amanda Jones) said.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nunavut-rcmp-justice-mental-health-calls-1.5704443

 Vox.com (US) – Brian Resnick
The dark allure of conspiracy theories, explained by a psychologist – Believing in them is a coping mechanism to deal with an uncertain world.

Resnick interviews Dutch psychologist Jan-Willem van Prooijen about what constitutes a conspiracy theory, what makes them attractive and to whom, and why they have appeal and often credible success. https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/science-and-health/2017/4/25/15408610/conspiracy-theories-psychologist-explained?__twitter_impression=true&s=09

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Summer Quiz

Even though this quiz is on the British prison system practices, it may be helpful or even amusing to test your knowledge of some common issues for Canada and the UK.   http://www.russellwebster.com/criminal-justice-quiz-summer-2020/