Phone calls…

Feb. 12, 2021 – – Marsha McLeod
Broken telephone: How Ontario’s prison-phone system leaves inmates disconnected – ANALYSIS: Here’s how the phone system works, who profits — and what advocates say needs to change

A year ago, the Ontario government announced a plan to install a new prison wide phone system that would make contact between prisoners and families easier and cheaper, including access to cell phone numbers among family members.  McLeod is now reporting that little has changed except the pressing need for family contact by phone now that actual visits are eliminated.  The telephone contract, in which the government gets a share of profits, has passed from Bell to Synergy Inmate Phone Solutions Inc. but the practices have not substantially changed and the new company has not yet installed the new system.  Users report charges as high as $600 / month which families pay, and the 20 min limit still applies.  Twitter series from Marsha McLeod:

 Criminological Highlights – Professors Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner (University of Toronto, Criminology Department  Volume 19, Number 2;  February 2021)

As usual, this edition offers eight topics of current concern.  The topics – summaries of research papers – are:  1) What do we know about the relationship between firearms ownership and fatal violence?  2) What kinds of jobs can Black, White, and Hispanic prisoners expect to find in their first year after release from prison? 3) Does any kind of employment reduce the likelihood of reoffending for those released from prison?  4) How does a period of high imprisonment have an impact on imprisonment rates decades later?  5) Does existing research support the investment by police services in body-worn cameras?  6) What can happen when police ask a question during the interrogation of a suspect that assumes an unproven fact?  7) Does the mandatory arrest of suspects in domestic violence incidents reduce their subsequent offending?  8) Why is the criminal justice system in some jurisdictions becoming more punitive toward those convicted of sex offences?  (Please note that there may be a delay of a day or two before the website has this most recent edition.)  Get your own subscription at   or

 New York Post (US) – Johnny Oleksinski
Sundance 2021 review: Moving ‘Mass’ has some of the year’s best acting

The topic of the first of the Sundance Film Festival showings is certainly reflective of the tumultuous times and tensions we all live with.  That in itself may not make the viewing any less upsetting nor the take away any more palatable.  Mass is a movie about a mass school shooting and the aftermath for the parents of both one of the victims and the parents of the perpetrator.  The film is getting rave reviews for the star quality of the largely unknown actors and critics are suggesting that the film is more about the healing process than the nightmare event itself.

CTV News – Christopher Reynolds, Canadian Press
Internal data shows surge in harassment complaints at Canada Revenue Agency, RCMP

The Canada Revenue Agency, the RCMP and the Post Office have all recently seen significant increases in allegations of harassment in the workplace.  Supervisors and spokespersons for the agnecies say they do not know if there is an increase in incidents or if there is greater awareness of the violations and greater willingness to report the incidents.  Equally, no one is saying anything about the measures in place to prevent harassment nor about whether new processes in the workplace following Covid-19 are contributing factors.

WLRN (Miami) – Jim Saunders
Federal Order Takes Aim at Retaliation against Inmates in Florida Prisons

Treatment of prisoners in Florida’s state prison system have been under tension for some two years since prisoners had begun complaining about the use of solitary.  Now, the tension has entered the court room and Magistrate Judge Martin Fitzpatrick has issued a 53 page ruling acknowledging both physical and verbal retaliation by the prison guards.  Said the judge, “This record establishes that retaliation, harassment and threats of retaliation continued despite the Secretary’s memorandum.  Such behavior raises substantial concern for the fairness and integrity of this litigation if prison officials are intimidating and threatening potential plaintiff prisoners or, at the least, prisoners who may be called to testify as witnesses. Such intimidation happens by persons who control the most basic attributes of life — the provision of meals, the ability to use (and flush) the toilet, access to showers or time outside of one’s cell, advancement to less restrictive housing, and the means by which to report issues and seek redress of grievances.”

Openlux (Spain) – Antonio Baquero (OCCRP), Maxime Vaudano (Le Monde), Cecilia Anesi (IRPI)
Shedding Light on Big Secrets in Tiny Luxembourg

The link offers a review of the role of Luxembourg as a secret tax haven for the world’s ‘dodgy’ money.  “Foreigners who open companies in Luxembourg tend to do it for one reason: “to disconnect themselves from their holdings,” explains Gabriel Zucman, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies tax havens. That’s the key service that’s provided by this segment of the financial industry: Disconnecting people from their assets, creating financial opacity, making it harder for authorities to investigate.”

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) – Richard Garside
Impact of Covid-19 on Prisoners

The link offers a summary of the impact of almost a year of lockdown for 22 hours a day has done to prisoners in the UK as solitary has become the principal way of confronting Covid-19 in the prisons.  Garside, the Executive Director, makes use of an inspector general report from Feb. 11, 2021, on which to base his conclusions.  “Contact with family members has been minimal. Mental and physical health has declined. “Their despondency, resentment and lack of hope for the future were especially notable”.   Report of Inspector General:  What happens to prisoners in a pandemic?

The Marshall Project (US) – Simone Weichselbaum, Sachi Mcclendon and Uriel J. Garcia
U.S. Marshals Act like Local Police with More Violence and Less Accountability – The federal agency’s teams have killed an average of 22 suspects and bystanders a year.

US police agency have proliferated as more and more political purposes justify their existence.  One that has mostly escaped any public scrutiny until now is the US Marshal’s Service, largely known for pursuing criminals and escapees at large, frequently with local police aid.  “The Justice Department has refused to release the kind of information about marshals-involved shootings that major police departments make public. So our reporters used news articles, court documents and police records to compile data on shootings involving the Marshals Service and its task forces from January 1, 2015 to September 10, 2020… We found that at least 177 people were shot by a marshal, task force member or local cop helping in a marshals arrest; 124 people, mostly suspects and a handful of bystanders, died from their injuries. In addition, seven committed suicide after being shot.”

 ED NOTE:  The State of Corrections series advertised for Wednesday night was recorded and will be shortly available at