Oct. 12, 2020

Foundations for Social Change (Vancouver, BC) –
The New Leaf Project

The Foundation, tied to UBC, has acted on a question on all our minds about homelessness:  how does one best help the homeless find housing and food security.  We have endured the piecemeal approach for so long that we have formed stereotypical notions of what happens when the homeless are given resources to solve their own problems.  “A one-time cash transfer is awarded to a person who is living in poverty and can be spent according to individual needs. Growing evidence, including from our New Leaf project, demonstrates that money from cash transfers is well spent and that it can provide stability in a person’s life…The direct giving model has been proven to empower recipients to find housing and purchase goods that improve their lives, while restoring dignity, confidence and a sense of well-being. Further, research has found that cash transfers do not increase spending on goods, such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs.”  The direct giving model gave 50 participants $7500 without strings and the participants spent the money securing their future.   Related article: CNN – Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman   Researchers gave thousands of dollars to homeless people. The results defied stereotypes.

The Prison Post (US) –
 Vanessa & David Sloane, Life Support Alliance

The link is to a group attempting to offer hope to those with particularly long prison sentences and either still in prison or dealing with re-entry issues after a long time.  The link is offered to provide a link to an entire series on these issues by two men who have walked the journey themselves.  The series aims at a new post every Wednesday and offers very personal and concrete views on these issues.  The first guests are long time advocates and founders of the Life Support Alliance: David is himself a former lifer.  “This is your podcast for conversations surrounding the need to reform prisons from the perspective of formerly incarcerated people, community members, and leaders in the restorative justice movement. The Prison Post will feature an episode every Wednesday with people who are in the fight to restore lives and heal communities.”  You can: “Subscribe to our video cast on YouTube and like us on Facebook at The Prison Post and at Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs (CROP).”  Commentaries on the various episodes draw a helpful and personal perspective.    Related article: Columbia University – Caroline Harting   Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Learn to Code – The Center for Justice and the Tamer Center have teamed up to teach coding and job skills to individuals who were incarcerated.   Related article: ARC – Gregg Caruso   Abolish the Cash Bail System  Ability to pay currently determines who has to stay in jail before trial and who gets to return home. It shouldn’t be this way.   Vermont Digger (US) – Bill Schubart  New prison? Or invest in citizens, and avoid $50,000 a year per inmate?   Related article:  BBC News (UK) – Sean Coughlan   Youth jail turns to therapy rather than steel doors   Related article: Probation Journal (UK) – Natalie Rutter   Social Media: A challenge to identity and relational desistance    (“The influence and impact of this expansion (of social media) has sparsely, if at all, been considered within the context of desistance from crime.”    (Ed note: the idea of desistance to crime and the influence of media is the subject of Russell Webster’s latest blog as well – he introduces this new doctoral study.  Cf )

   Global News – Morganne Campbell
RCMP directive eliminates wearing of ‘thin blue line’ patch while on duty

Some police officers wear a patch with a thin blue line through a recessed Canadian flag as an endorsement of the solidarity that they put their lives on the line each time they wear the uniform.  Some have objected that the patch is not part of the uniform and therefore should not be worn.  Others have suggested that the symbol creates a division between the officer and the people he or he is sworn to protect.  El Jones, an activist and professor based in Halifax has been asked to study the issue:  “It’s an ideology that imagines the world as this violent, chaotic place, were it not for the police, and that sets a mindset around crime and a certain mindset of particularly who is on the other side of that blue line, which traditionally have been Black people and Indigenous people and people who are outside the middle class, white ideal of public safety,”    Related article: Toronto Star – Douglas Quan RCMP officers told not to wear symbol depicting ‘thin blue line’   Related article: Calgary Herald – Jason Herring   Alberta’s top RCMP officer defends police service after Madu slams force   Related article: Calgary Sun – Rick Bell    Dump the RCMP. Is it Alberta’s one-finger salute to Trudeau?

 CBC News – Jason Warick
Advocates decry 2-year stint in solitary confinement for Sask. inmate

This is a difficult admission indicting the entire criminal legal system.  Noel Harder was arrested on weapons charges to which he pleaded guilty after delays of two years in which he was held in solitary.  He was then released on time served in the two years of solitary.  He was a police informer and a key witness against a number of biker gangs and was in witness protection until he violated the conditions of the protection program, was expelled.  There has to be a better way to cope with the safety of informers than solitary which is acknowledge to be its own sort of hell.   Related article:  CTV News – Jayda Taylor  ‘There will be other Danny Tokarchuks’: Former Sask. Pen. teacher says inmate was driven to better himself before suicide   Related article: Texas Observer (US) – Dutch Simmons   Short Story Finalist: ‘Solitary’ – “There is no justice in being morally just. Not here.”

The Guardian Long Read – Kris Manjapra
How the long fight for slavery reparations is slowly being won

This link offers the history of the initial establishment of reparations towards Black people for the years of racial discrimination that frustrated every effort to achieve financial stability.  The story features Robin Rue Simmons, the Black woman who took the cause of reparations to the city and people of Evanston, Illinois.  The story tells of ‘red lining’ real estate, the history of reparations by both the French and British governments to slave traders for their losses, the back-to-Africa movement, the efforts of former slaves to get full freedom after the civil war, and much more relatively unknown history, until on Nov 25, 2019, Evanston “city council passed the US’s first – indeed the world’s first – legislated and funded reparations programme to acknowledge and address the intergenerational disparities of racial slavery.”   Related article:  Indian Country Today – Vincent Schilling    The Traumatic True History and Name List of the Dakota 38