A long time coming…

Mar 23, 2021

“Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
I wonder where the flowers is?” (Bugs Bunny via David Axlerod of the Axe Files)

John Howard Society
Unequal Justice: Experiences and outcomes of young people in Ontario’s youth bail system

The link is first to an excellent graphic (on an interactive website – follow the MORE INFO Tabs) that highlights the points of this latest report on the way youth are showing up in jail as part of the pre-trial charging and bail hearings.  Then the full 26 page report is available as a downloadable PDF.  Says John Howard in the covering description:  The report “shows how many kids in Ontario – and especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) youth – still get jail time for reasons unrelated to serious crimes.”  https://www.johnhoward.on.ca/unequaljustice/   Full report:  https://johnhoward.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Youth-Bail-Highlights-Final.pdf   Related report:  Globe and Mail – Patrick White    Indigenous, Black youth spend more time in Ontario court system, according to report   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-indigenous-black-youth-spend-more-time-in-ontario-court-system/  (Laidlaw Foundation was a funding partner on this report and says:  Please take a look at the most recent Unequal Justice report by our partners at the JHSO.)

CBC News – Murray Brewster
Key allies watching closely to see how Canada handles sexual misconduct claims against Vance, McDonald – Could Canada’s current and former top commanders face courts martial? How would that work?

Normally, the decision around prosecution for criminal offences in the military is part of a command structure.  International allies are wondering how it would work in Canada if charges are recommended again General Vance or Admiral McDonald?  “Both Vance and McDonald are facing allegations of sexual misconduct. The top military commander is usually the ultimate disciplinary authority for those in uniform. Serving members of the military at that level tend not to face charges themselves — in fact, experts in military law told CBC News they can’t recall it happening anywhere else.”   https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/vance-mcdonald-canadian-armed-forces-sexual-misconduct-1.5959563   Related report:  Globe and Mail – Willow Fiddler  Pikangikum First Nation expels OPP from community over sexual assault allegations, SIU investigating   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-pikangikum-first-nation-expel-opp-from-community-over-sexual-assault/

CBC News – Catherine Tunney
Controversial neck hold still being used by Mounties as RCMP reviews its safety

Last June the RCMP’s Commissioner Brenda Lucki said the force would review the use of the carotid hold or the sleeper hold in which a constable momentarily cuts off blood to the brain resulting in a loss of consciousness.  But the hold has not been banned during the review and there does not appear to any time target for a decision one way or the other.  Consultants are suggesting annual refresher training if it continues to be allowed but the study includes injuries sustained in use.  https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/21/politics/innocent-former-death-row-inmates/index.html   Related article: CBC News – Guy Quenneville  RCMP racially discriminated against mother, mishandled witnesses, evidence in Colten Boushie case: watchdog – RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says she accepts discrimination finding  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/colten-boushie-rcmp-shooting-complaint-gerald-stanley-1.5934802   Related article: Globe and Mail – Joe Friesen   RCMP destroyed police records from the night Colten Boushie died   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-rcmp-destroyed-police-records-from-the-night-colten-boushie-died/

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
The impact of prison lockdown on mental health

The link is to a third in a series of studies on the impact of lockdown from Covid-19 (access to the previous two embedded in the text here).  The blog identifies the mental health pre-occupation with the isolation and confinement while in lockdown.  Boredom, disruption of prison life, anxiety, access to services are consistent themes while connections to family and extra food packages are helpful. https://www.russellwebster.com/the-impact-of-prison-lockdown-on-mental-health/   Related article: Globe and Mail – Michael Tutton  Inmate advocates warn jail populations rising again in some provinces, increasing COVID-19 risk  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-inmate-advocates-warn-jail-populations-rising-again-in-some-provinces/   Related article: CBC News – Hala Ghonaim    Grand Valley inmates (women) face ‘restrictive conditions’ under pandemic measures: advocate   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/grand-valley-institution-kitchener-modified-routine-1.5959456?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar

CNN (US) – Christina Carrega
They were innocent and on death row. Now, the exonerated want to ensure Biden keeps pledge

The link offers an overview of the status of capital punishment in the US with the numbers on death row for each state where the death penalty is still on the books.  Additionally, the perspective is through the eyes of a number of people convicted, sentenced to death and later exonerated.  “A recent study by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) revealed that in two-thirds of overturned death row convictions, official misconduct, perjury or false accusations played a role in 70.7% of Black and 93.8% of Latino exonerees’ cases… The DPIC announced in February that since the 1970s, 185 people, who received death sentences, were wrongfully convicted. Among them are: 66 White men and one White woman, 16 Latinos, one Native American or Alaska Native, two identified as other and 97 Black men and one Black woman — Smith.”   https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/21/politics/innocent-former-death-row-inmates/index.html   Related article: CNN – Ariane de Vogue    Supreme Court agrees to review Boston Marathon bomber’s death penalty case   https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/22/politics/boston-marathon-supreme-court-death-penalty/index.html   Related article: The Atlantic –  Alvin Melathe  A Witness to the State’s Power to Kill – What a spiritual adviser saw when the federal government executed a man on death row.  https://www.theatlantic.com/podcasts/archive/2021/03/experiment-witness-death-chamber/618334/  

Toronto Star – Canadian Press
Alberta to end name changes for dangerous, long-term, high-risk offenders

Alberta is making an effort to insure that those convicted of serious crime never have a legal chance to start over by invoking a name change.  Legislation to prevent the name change has been introduced by Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish as part of the Vital Statistics Act.  Glubish says the change is to allow “peace of mind for victims and for other Albertans.”  He is urging its adoption across Canada.  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/03/22/alberta-to-end-name-changes-for-dangerous-long-term-high-risk-offenders.html

Maine Monitor and Pro Publica (US) – Samantha Hogan, The Maine Monitor, and Agnel Philip, ProPublica
Lawyers Who Were Ineligible to Handle Serious Criminal Charges Were Given Thousands of These Cases Anyway – In the only state with no public defenders, people charged with murder and other serious crimes can get assigned attorneys who are legally ineligible to take on their cases. The state claims it was unaware.

Lawyers are supposed to be determined as qualified or not to try certain types of cases – felony criminal cases for example, and there is a state board to say who is and who isn’t.  In Maine, in over 2,000 such cases or approximately one of every eight, a lawyer without the qualifications was appointed basically by a court clerk, to defend in the manner of a public defender:  “Over five years, clerks made 15,700 assignments for cases where the charges were serious enough to merit a lawyer with elevated experience and training under MCILS (Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services) rules.”  https://www.propublica.org/article/lawyers-who-were-ineligible-to-handle-serious-criminal-charges-were-given-thousands-of-these-cases-anyway?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

Washington Post (US) – Mark Guarino
Evanston, Ill., leads the country with first reparations program for Black residents

Evanston is a suburb of Chicago and has determined to attempt to mitigate racism by agreeing to reparations to Black people historically deprived of their rights and income by laws to prevent their economic well-being.  “The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of reparations to acknowledge the harm caused by discriminatory housing policies, practices and inaction going back more than a century. The 8-to-1 vote will initially make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents, primarily those can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from such discrimination.”  One cannot help but wonder if fear of the consequences of the reparation issue like Evanston’s is not a substantial proponent in the denial of the vote to Black people, the White Supremacy movement, and all underlying racism.    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/evanston-illinois-reparations/2021/03/22/6b5a308c-8b2d-11eb-9423-04079921c915_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F312021c%2F605a10c19d2fda4c8818c185%2F597720279bbc0f6826c0ca16%2F31%2F70%2F605a10c19d2fda4c8818c185   Related article:  NY Times – Rachel L. Swarns   Catholic Order Pledges $100 Million to Atone for Slave Labor and Sales – The move by Jesuit priests is the largest such effort by the Roman Catholic Church and comes amid growing calls for reparations across the United States.   https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/us/jesuits-georgetown-reparations-slavery.html

National Rifle Association (US)
Victory in Colorado Preemption Case

As we are grieving the death of 10 more in Boulder, this headline seems to shake our brains in our skulls.  A Colorado state court ten days ago struck down a Boulder city law “ban on possessing and transferring commonly-possessed “assault weapons” and ten-round magazines…” as pre-empted by state law.   This brings locking the barn to new heights of silly.  https://www.nraila.org/articles/20210315/victory-in-colorado-preemption-case