Feb 3, 2021

 CNN –
‘Warrior’ police training is being offered across the US

“Police departments across the country are being trained in an aggressive, ready-to-kill approach to police training. How has this “warrior-style” of training contributed to the current state of policing in America?”  The training is given by combat experts and at tax payers’ expense, despite laws prohibiting it in some states.  It is known as killology and available in all 50 states.  ( A six minute video)  Related article: The Appeal – Manjeet Kaur  Seattle Cut Its Police Budget. Now the Public Will Decide How To Spend the Money. The city will use participatory budgeting to allocate $30 million to programs that create “true public health and safety.”   Related article: The Marshall Report – Nicole Lewis, Aviva Shen and Katie Park    What Could Have Kept Me Out of Prison – We asked people behind bars what services and programs could have changed the course of their lives. Therapy, affordable housing and a living wage topped the list.  Related article: N.Y. Times – Nicole Hong   Rochester Police Pepper-Sprayed 9-Year-Old Girl, Footage Shows  (A family in distress call turns absurd)

 BC Tyee – Moira Wyton
BC Panel Rejects a Universal Basic Income – Report calls for targeted supports for some vulnerable groups, plus expansion and fixes to existing programs.

A panel appointment by the BC Provincial Government has concluded its reporting by insisting a more targeted approach than a universal basic income as a solution to poverty.  “Targeted basic incomes should replace some social supports like disability and income assistance, as well as support youth leaving care and women fleeing violence, the report concluded.”  The report stress the need for reform of the gaps in the present system, including health care for vulnerable population.  Critics say the report does not go far enough and underestimates the gaps.   Full Report:  Covering All the Basics: Reforms for a More Just Society  (A 529 page pdf )   Related article:  Citizens for Public Justice Tweet:  Response to BC report:

The Walrus (Canada) – Samantha McCabe
Workplace Harassment Goes Virtual – Far from pausing the problem, the pandemic has intensified it across online platforms

Denise Koster worried that her job as a work place harassment specialist was at risk when the jobs moved out of the office to home based.  Not so, she says.  The complaints have increased rather than diminished for both those unable to work at home and for those at home who are experiencing virtual harassment on the new platform.  “At its root, sexual harassment is really about controlling, humiliating, derogating, and dominating somebody based on sex and gender. That can take a lot of different forms,” says Jennifer Berdahl, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia whose research focuses on gender and power at work.”  Koster also notes a considerable increase in on-line stress from employers.

Globe and Mail – Colin Freeze
In Thunder Bay, an Indigenous People’s Court offers a new form of justice – but the pandemic has put obstacles in its path – Sixteen specialized courts in Ontario emphasize healing over punishment, but the in-person hearings that make that possible have been left in limbo due to COVID-19

Specialty courts are not new but this court is a little unusual in the faint whiff of smoke from smudging ceremonies.  All the courtroom people participate in the smudging ceremony at the start of the court’s session.  The defendant sits in the middle of the circular layout; he has already pleaded guilty to theft of a car under the influence; the court is not determining sentence but rather designing a healing plan.  This court will reconvene in six months for a blanket ceremony if the plan, once accepted, works.  “These courts amount to a continuing experiment in the Canadian criminal justice system, given how they allow judges to slow down proceedings and open themselves up to direct input from Indigenous groups. This crucial venture is currently on pause as the coronavirus crisis closed many courts, redirecting proceedings to time-crunched virtual sessions.”

Evolve Our Prison Farms (Canada) – Dr. Amy Fitzgerald and Dr. Amanda Wilson
Prison Farm Report (Jan. 31, 2021)

The authors, Fitzgerald of the University of Windsor, and Wilson of St. Paul University in Ottawa, are both well trained in the cross-over between prisons and agriculture.  Prison farms have been on again, off-again in Canada for some time.   Corrections Canada has just fielded a plan to raise goats and the experts are pushing a petition to stop the plan, saying it will not help the prisoners.  Fitzgerald and Wilson have some other suggestions about what would work.   Full Report:  Canada Proposed Prison Farm Program:  Why it won’t work and what would work better

Toronto Star – Francine Kopun
Civilians, not Toronto police, to take over mental-health 911 calls in pilot program

Toronto will shortly have four emergency response units for 911 calls involving mental health dimensions who will be dispatched to the call rather than police.  The plan includes one Indigenous response unit.  The pilot program will run for a couple of years and if deemed successful, replaced with a permanent response by 2025 or 2026.  There is not much detail at this point but the question of defunding police to pay for the service is floating around.    Related article: Toronto Star – Jennifer Pagliaro   ‘Who is this budget for?’: Inequality, police funding and climate change should be city’s financial focus, Torontonians tell council

The Sentencing Project (US) – Josh Rovner
Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Persist – In an era of declining youth incarceration, Black and American Indian youth are still overwhelmingly more likely to be held in custody than their white peers.

Want to know how deeply embedded racism is in the criminal justice system?  Rovner is saying all you have to do is look at the rates of imprisonment for Black and native Indian youth in the US.  While other specific groups have seen a decrease in the numbers, this category remains stubbornly high.  “In every state, Black youth are more likely to be incarcerated than their white peers, about five times as likely nationwide. American Indian youth are three times as likely to be incarcerated as their white peers. For Latinx youth disparities are smaller but still prevalent; Latinx youth are 42 percent more likely than their white peers to be incarcerated.”  (link offers the full report:  Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Persist – 17 page PDF)