Death from mental illness…

Feb 22, 2021

National Newswatch – Margaret Eaton
Mental illness should never be a death sentence

Eaton, National CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, is objecting to the possibility of MAID leading to terminating mentally ill patients as a matter of course.  First, she says, there are three circumstances that should be met before embracing the Maid law as it is.  First, it is almost impossible to determine if any advanced case of mental illness has reached “an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed.”  Second, lots of mental illness first shows a resistance to treatment and later responds recovering over time.  Third, the distinction for mental illness over other types of illness may be inherently discriminatory.  “We have to cure our ailing mental health system in Canada before we even begin to consider mental illness incurable.”

Vox,com (US) – Sara Morrison
Facebook’s news ban in Australia is draconian. But it might not be wrong. The social media giant cut millions of Australians off from the news to protest a potential law with a lot of flaws.

Australia’s Facebook and Google are in a growing confrontation about paying for news sources or simply carrying the items for free.  Google has agreed to pay prior to a new Australian government law requiring payment for sources.  Instead Australia Facebook has simply blocked news sources from direct posting and users from posting indirectly.  The result is a furor among users.  The implications for Canada are not clear.

Pro Publica (US) – Joe Sexton
“I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother”  A shocking story of police and lethal force. Just not the one you might expect.

This is an unusual small town encounter that started with a domestic dispute and an effort to achieve suicide by cop.  The article provides a timeline and equally helpful a detailed analysis on the aftermath of the shooting that includes the firing of the officer who tried to de-escalate the incident.  The link also looks at the ‘suicide-by-cop’ history.   Related article: Pro Publica (US) –  Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.  Nelson Cruz’s family was so sure Judge ShawnDya Simpson would free him, they brought a change of clothes to his hearing. Then everything took an unexpected turn.  Can justice ever be sorted out?

CBC News
Facebook and Australia are in a standoff. Is Canada next?

The link offers a 7 minute video discussion between Facebook Canada CEO Kevin Cheng and CBC’s Michael Serapio about the strategy by Facebook in Australia and the possible strategy for Facebook Canada in the light of potential Canadian government action over the same basic issues. (US)
Who has died from Covid-19 in the US?  The virus was unsparing.

The link offers a history of the spread of deaths from Vovid-19 from its start to the present day, identifying by excellent graphs and overlaid statistical info the race, age of those who died and the percentage of deaths against the percentage of population.  The stats clearly show that minorities endured higher death rates.  The stats are also broken down by the months since the virus arrived and by age bracket for those who died from the virus.  Related article: Correctional Services of Canada –Testing of inmates in federal correctional institutions for COVID-19 (As of Feb 18, 2021, broken down into provinces)

Washington Post – Radley Balko
Opinion: Study finds cognitive bias in how medical examiners evaluate child deaths

This is a very challenging report on a very challenging study conducted by Itiel Dror, a cognitive neuroscience researcher at University College London who specializes in cognitive perception, judgment and decision-making. The information from 10 years of child death records from Nevada where pathologists ruled twice as likely for homicide if the child was Black.  A request for a ruling was then submitted to 133 pathologists for a single case study in which the only difference was whether the child was Black or White.  “Of the 133 medical examiners who participated in the study, 78 said they could not determine a manner of death from the information available. Among the 55 who could, 23 concluded the child’s death was an accident, and 32 determined it was a homicide…. Worse, the medical examiners who were given the fact pattern with a Black child were five times more likely to rule the death a homicide than an accident.”  The cause of death aside, the study seems to suggest that the manner of death may well be subjected to personal bias.

Vancouver Province – Meenakshi Mannoe and Harsha Walia
We can choose differently: safety beyond police, prisons and criminalization – Opinion: Many reforms fail to realize meaningful change: For example, discretionary policing measures and administrative regimes for drug offences fail to counter systemic racism, prohibitionist logic, and anti-poor stigma.

This is a basic critique of Bill C-22 now in first reading in the Parliament of Canada. The reasons prompting the changes to the mandatory minimums and the drug laws involve racial bias and limiting the impact of the laws is not as helpful as eliminating mandatory altogether and decriminalizing the possession of drugs, especially in the age of the Covid-19 on prisons.   “These proposed federal amendments also come months after the global #BlackLivesMatter challenge to systemic anti-Black racism and police violence. There is now a sustained and necessary reckoning about how many of our institutions — such as police, criminal legal system, prisons, immigration enforcement, and child apprehension — are founded in the violence of settler-colonialism and enslavement and, still today, continue to target and harm Indigenous, Black people, and racialized people.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Daniel Brown    An end to mandatory minimum sentences  –  Podcast Michael Spratt (Ottawa)  Grading the New Justice Bill  (53 minute audio, go to 117 halfway down the landing page). (North Dakota) – April Baumgarten
North Dakota juvenile justice bill emphasizes services over punishment

The review of youth criminal justice is the first since 1969 and seems to tackle a critical junction is issues of youth and criminal justice: whether to focus on punishing or healing.  “That’s the aim of House Bill 1035. Dubbed the Juvenile Court Act, it would make major revisions to state law to make sure children are getting services they need so they can have a better future, preventing them from becoming “career criminals,” as bill sponsor state Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, put it… Many children need help, not punishment,” Klemin said Monday, Feb. 15, as the North Dakota House passed his 124-page bill with a 90-4 vote.”

Attorney General of Ontario Background to proposed legislation
Accelerating Access to Justice Act – Modernizing the legal system and reducing the time people spend waiting for their day in court

The ministry of the AG is recognizing that gaining access to the courts and to justice in Ontario has been problematic for long time.  Included in this proposed legislation are the appointment of judges, reducing costs for family court, parents and guardians, land tribunals, French courts, and other matters.  Detailed government Press release:

 Associated Press (US)
Woman who gave birth alone in cell secures $200k settlement

As horrible as the fate of this woman who gave birth in a jail cell without assistance, the horror does not end there.  Kelsey Love, 32, “filed a lawsuit in 2018 alleging that Franklin County Regional Jail ignored her while she screamed in pain during her labor in May 2017.”  The state of Kentucky paid her $200,000 in damages but in the settlement agreement the jail was not obligated to admit any wrong doing.  The details of the birth of the child are beyond imagination and cannot escape a label as a tremendous measure of inhumanity and human indecency.

 Canadian Lawyer – Michael Spratt (Ottawa)
Systemic racism is not irrelevant in sentencing Black offenders – Ontario’s top court is yet again hearing tired arguments about ignoring systemic discrimination

Spratt notes that systemic racism in the courts and in sentencing has been around for long time and acknowledged by courts and crowns since 30 years ago yet still powerfully present.  “So, it is exhausting to find ourselves back in the Court of Appeal arguing about just how much consideration should be given to systemic racism when it comes to sentencing Black offenders.”

Twitter from Jonathan Sher on percentage spending GDP vs disabilities support:

In 2019 Canada is in the lowest 5 of 38 countries.