Deadly force…

May 4, 2021

CBC News – Inayat Singh
2020 already a particularly deadly year for people killed in police encounters, CBC research shows – CBC’s Deadly Force database looks at role of race, mental health in deaths

This report dates from July 2020 but raises several concerns about deadly force used by police and prison guards.  “There were 30 people killed after police used force in Canada in the first half of 2020, which is the full-year average for such deaths over the past 10 years (the deadliest year was 2016, when 40 people were killed). This is according to the Deadly Force database, updated and maintained by the CBC’s own researchers. The database shows Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately represented amongst the victims compared to their share of the overall population.  The data also finds most of those killed in police encounters suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.”   Related article:  The Atlantic – Conor Friedersdorf    The Numbers Tell a Different Story About Police Killings of Minors – Exaggerated narratives could yield misguided policy responses—which would endanger many more kids.   Related article: Blogger Russell Webster (UK)   Surge in number of people dying in prison

Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno
Don’t you dare ask for forgiveness

The link is to an acerbic condemnation of the Ford government for its repeated failure to respond caringly to the crisis of the Covid-19 in the province’s long term care homes.  The commentary is forcefully supported by the recent report of the auditor general.   “Our elders may be beloved to their families, those of us fortunate enough to still have living parents and grandparents. But as a generation, as an age class, they have precious little value.  Warehoused, discarded, abandoned to a pitiless virus and indefensible beadledom.  Don’t you dare ask for forgiveness.”

Globe and Mail – David Pyrooz, Rosemary Ricciardelli and Sandra Bucerius
Jails and prisons remain a hotbed for COVID-19. Vaccinate the people who live or work in them

The link offers combined US / Canada perspective on the response to the Covid-19 impact on people in prisons – prisoners and staff.  “Public health guidelines fall flat in jails and prisons. As incarcerated people live in congregate settings, it is practically impossible to practice physical distancing. While personal protective equipment, such as masks, are generally available to incarcerated people, they would have to be worn non-stop—including at night—to help protect against the disease as most facilities lack proper air circulation.”  The authors insist that the prison time is the punishment for the crime and that no one should suffer death in the unavoidable circumstances of prison.

The Marshall Project (US) Life Inside – Manuja Waldia
Nothing has made me feel more American than going to jail – I was born in D.C. to South Indian parents. But it wasn’t until I had to negotiate the criminal justice system that I fully realized what many Americans of color have to deal with.

The Hartford Correctional Center (HCC) is the place where Waldia was sent, after conviction for driving with a suspended driver’s licence after the misdemeanor conviction.  He was sentenced to 90 days.  His description of the 90 days serves to make anyone wonder ever so pointedly why he was ever jailed at all and what the purpose was, besides some sort of vicarious expiration for the state players  or perhaps more sinister and revenge inspired disruption of personal life.  A fascinating tale…   Related article: ABC News – Don Thompson, Associated Press   76,000 California inmates now eligible for earlier releases – California is giving 76,000 inmates the opportunity to leave prison earlier   Related article: CNN – Melissa Alonzo   A change in California’s corrections system could mean earlier release or parole hearings for some inmates

Associated Press (US) – Colleen Slevin
Use-of-force cases prompt state debates over officer records

Many may be surprised to know that beside the much discussed liability issues around the use of force by US police many states – about 20 at the moment – also have laws that reflect agreements with police unions that individual personnel records will not be made public when a particular officer is accused of excessive force.  The qualified immunity with these restrictions on personal histories often mean that officers who are repeat offenders are not charged and can easily transfer to other police departments without revealing a troubled past.

Elizabeth Fry Society Week – May 3-7
I advocate for human rights because…

Here’s a challenge for you from a well-known defender of women and women’s rights.  EFry was named for a lady from the 18th century who long advocated for women and whose ideals are still honoured today in such groups across the country.  The theme for celebration this year is human rights in Action.