Repairing harm…

April 14, 2021

Toronto Star – Rachel Mendleson
Woman wrongfully convicted over flawed Motherisk evidence acquitted by Ontario court

Joyce Hayman has endured 23 years before this week the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned her conviction for killing her son by feeding him heroin.  Said Ontario’s Associate Chief Justice Michal Fairburn, who delivered the ruling on behalf of the three-judge panel, said Hayman “suffered an egregious miscarriage of justice…Where the harm has fallen is crystal clear, Ms. Hayman is truly the victim of a faulty criminal process.”  The case dates back to the use of hair at the Toronto’s Sick Children labs to determine the presence of heroin.  The Motherisk analysis involved over 25,000 such tests and efforts to right the wrong missed the Hayman case until now.

TVO – Daniel Kitts
‘Making change is tough’: A criminologist on rethinking crime prevention – speaks with Irvin Waller about community-based interventions — and what it will take to change the system

The link is to a podcast between TVO and Irvin Waller, Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the University of Ottawa and author of The Science and Secrets of Ending Violent Crime.  Waller is advocating for community based response to crime.  Waller is calling attention to the reduction of crime and the approach witnessed in Glasgow, Scotland where he says the community defines community safety and has a prevention plan.  The usual response is to invoke deterrence.

The Marshall Project (US) – Lawrence Bartley
The Language Project – I am not your ‘Inmate’

Bartley is a former corrections officer who knows what he speaks about in suggesting that many of the terms we find in justice talk are offensive and meant to degrade.  The link offers two other commentaries by other authors on the topic and invites us to speak more personally about those imprisoned and to accept their dignity.

CBC News – Jennie Russell
Edmonton Police Commission report calls for better coordination of police, social services – Report says new governance model needed for municipal social service programs

Edmonton seems to respond to what is troubling many cities:  “Police are often called upon to respond to complex situations that often have elements of public safety concerns but, after investigation, are found to be non-criminal in nature,” said the commission’s report, completed in December but publicly released Monday.”   Commission Chair Micki Ruth said the problem was not funding but aligning the services correctly.  An agency to oversee the services could be tasked with distributing the funding, establishing priorities and determining service priorities.   Related article: CBC – Natasha Riebe  Edmonton city council votes to create community safety task force  Police Commission Website: Strategic Plan 2020-2022

 Keough School of Global Affairs (US – Notre Dame University) – Syed Atif Rizwan
Mitigating Punishment’s Overreach

The link brings a reflection piece about the role of punishment in criminal justice and the role exercised by both Christian and Muslim religion.  In particular, the author is asking what role should be given to mercy as both systems of jurisprudence respond to punishment that overreaches, lashes for sexual offences under the Muslim system and solitary confinement in the US system.  While the lashes may bother us, the blog does raise succinctly the intersection of punishment and mercy.  What may be further helpful is to look more carefully at what constitutes punishment, what its purpose is, what are the cultural influences favouring punishment for both, why are Christian and Muslim, equally dedicated to severity of punishment as the only means to rehabilitate.   Related article: Washington Post – Justin Wm. Moyer   As Ramadan begins, lawsuit alleges mistreatment of Muslims at Va. Prison

Some pressing questions around deadly force and qualified immunity

Related article: Blogger Derecka Purnell  raises issues around Black lives (300+ a year) and white lives (500+) taken by police: why not equal reaction of the community at large? Black looting vs white theft?   Related article: Bree Newsome Bass – A study in contrast   Related Blog: Justice for Eishia Hudson – Winnipeg 16 year old killed by unnamed police

Ottawa Crime Prevention – Webinar
Responding to Mental Health Crises: Learning What Works in Ottawa and Beyond

A series of five webinar starting at 12 noon (Eastern Time) each day:  April 21 : Toronto’s Reach Out Response Network  May 5 : CAHOOTS from Eugene-Springfield, Oregon  May 19 : Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (DOPE) Response Team, from Ottawa  June 2 : REACH Edmonton 24/7 Crisis Diversion  June 16 : Minwaashin Lodge’s Street Team OutReach Mobile in Ottawa Free registration:

Waterloo Regional Crime Prevention Council – Overdose Prevention
(Un)Safe: New Insight and Opportunities to Prevent Accidental Overdoses, and Reduce Related Individual and Community Harms:  A Safe Supply Report, Unsafe Summary Infographic, Unsafe Comparison Infographic   Related article: Kitchener Today –  New report outlines, advocates for safe supply initiative – A new report from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council sheds light on the barriers affecting drug users

Global News – Amanda Connolly
Liberals shut down probe into sexual misconduct in Canadian military

This is another of those “Does not make sense” allegations.  Two senior officers, the highest ranks in the military and formerly charged with cleaning sexual assault in the military are the focus themselves of investigation by a Commons Defence Committee.  Most recently the Liberal government closed down the investigators leaving the issues around sexual abuse in the military seemingly without answers for victims and likely without solutions, legal or otherwise.  Critics and advocates think that any solution now has to be outside the military.

The Colony Courier Leader (Texas) – Chris Roark
Lewisville ISD is approaching discipline issues in a different way

Two years ago, the Lewisville School Board initiated a restorative justice disciplinary model in the school.  The link provides an assessment of the approach and its measures of success, even though the pandemic has influenced the process.  Training in the RJ approach continues at a rate of just under 20 campuses per year.  Says District Superintendent Kevin Rogers: “We’re committed to the idea that traditional discipline is and always will be part of our classroom,” Clark said. “But what we have to acknowledge is that traditional discipline alone is not working at improving behavior in some of our students.”