Longer sentences…

May 10, 2021

CBC News – Olivia Stefanovich
Proposed federal justice reforms could reduce number of Indigenous, Black people in system, say advocates – Ottawa trying to divert racialized youth from courts, create national Indigenous justice strategy

In the most recent federal budget the government pledged $216.4 million over five years, and $43.3 million each year after that, to divert Black and Indigenous youth and young people of colour from the courts.  Stefanovich offers a break-down of the allocations but there is not much detail on what the budget will specifically do, and whether this is simply pre-election mumble which would disappear after the next election.  Equally important there is, as yet, no suggestion about how the money will involve the community agencies that can provide alternatives to prison and how the provincial prison system may be involved.    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/legal-advocates-welcome-ottawa-budget-bipoc-justice-1.6018034

Book review by Gilles Renaud
Justice through Apologies: Remorse, Reform, and Punishment – Professor Nick Smith (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

This link offers an extended book review (published by Queen’s University in 2016) and commentary on a book published first in the spring of 2014.  While the review is of course not the actual text of the book itself, Renaud credits Smith with considerable break thru in the area of apology and remorse, its assessment in criminal and civil trials, and its impact on sentencing, deserved and otherwise.  As such, the review brings a welcomed second thought to the focus of remorse and apology in the criminal legal system.  It may also offer some additional insights into the role of apology and forgiveness in restorative justice approaches.  https://journal.queenslaw.ca/sites/journal/files/Issues/Vol%2041%20i2/7.%20Book%20Review.pdf

George Mason University – Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution
Howard Zehr – Human Rights Meets Restorative Justice

This is a lecture from 2019 by Howard Zehr (it starts at the 17 minute mark of the 1 hr 32 min video – previous time on thanks).  Zehr speaks for 38 minutes and the rest of the video is Q /A.  The talk addresses the implications of human rights for RJ circles and practices.  The presentation suggests that we need to re-think the current legal system based on an emphatic mingling of RJ and human rights.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccz55SO4Ah4

The Sentencing Project (US) – Ashley Nellis
No End in Sight: America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment – In the United States, more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every seven in prison.

The same factors that influence the Life without Parole sentence are at work in the belief that long sentences work as a deterrent to crime, even though the overwhelming evidence suggests that long sentences are just long sentences and mostly revenge thinking.  The author, Ashley Nellis, is a senior research analyst with a long history of work in the area, including the LWOP for juveniles.  She recently authored The Meaning of Life: The case for Abolishing the Life Sentence with Marc Maurer.  https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/no-end-in-sight-americas-enduring-reliance-on-life-imprisonment/?s=03   Related article: Youtube: Marc Mauer & Ashley Nellis, “The Meaning of Life”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzZEOJqfYzk (Approximately one hour)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Ryan W. Scott

The link offers a view justifying the LWOP for juveniles on the grounds that once imposed the sentence is over and no longer subject to review or change – that the latest USSC ruling in Miller (Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) should not be applied retroactively to those sentenced to LWOP prior to the ruling in the Supreme Court.  “The non-retroactivity of “new constitutional rules” of criminal procedure, in particular, is grounded principally in respect for the finality of criminal judgments. Once the process of direct review has concluded and a prisoner’s conviction and sentence become final, a collateral attack on the judgment faces a steep uphill battle based, in part, on concerns about finality.”  Critics say that finality of conviction seems a worthy factor more than finality of sentence. Is re-sentencing a better option than new trials? In the case of juvenile LWOP is there any legal or social advantage to insisting that there is no rationale for adjusting the sentence in the light of the Supreme Court ruling?  How do clear excesses in sentencing get corrected?   https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3597&context=facpub   Related article: Twitter thread from Shon Hopwood et al  Finality of sentence   https://twitter.com/shonhopwood/status/1390750887887441921?s=03   Related article: The Hill (US) – Harper Neidig   DOJ faces big decision on home confinement  https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/552447-doj-faces-big-decision-on-home-confinement   (A commentary on the expectation that those prisoners released because of Covid protection (about 24,000 federally) are expected to return to prison for the remainder of their sentence.)

Passages – Ted Rutland and Virginia Adamczak
Beyond Prisons:  The Case For Prison Abolition

The link is to a series of e-mail offerings on the subject of why we need to abolish prisons altogether.  A four part series by an independent media, the course asks for membership to access the program ($60 per year).  Rutland is an Associate Professor, Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia;  Adamczak is one of the hosts of the Prison Radio Show.  https://readpassage.com/course/beyond-prisons/

APTN – Brielle Morgan
Beyond Red Dress Day: Seven calls to action for Indigenous allies

Red Dress Day is a day to remember the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.  Morgan proposes seven things beyond remembering through the red dress (and the Youth who use the Red Ribbon Skirt).  The seven items include other links to help follow-up in the support for Indigenous women.  https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/beyond-red-dress-day-7-calls-to-action-for-indigenous-allies/

Ottawa Crime Prevention
Responding to Mental Health Crises:
Learning from Ottawa and Beyond –    with Berkley Carnine from CAHOOTS
Wednesday May 19th, Noon to 1pm EST via Zoom

Cahoots is the delightful name of a group on the streets of Oregon confronting crisis – Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, a program enjoying considerable success pre-dating the current defund-the-police response to crisis intervention.  To register visit: Zoom Registration Link

 Global News – Amanda Connolly
Calgary mayor says anti-mask rallies are ‘thinly veiled white nationalist’ protests

This article is a surprising concession from a popular city politician of the only slightly buried white nationalist sentiment finding ‘causes’ to embrace to advance a nasty and pernicious agenda. “Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says some recent rallies billed as opposing the wearing of masks during the pandemic are really just “thinly veiled white nationalist” and “anti-government” activities. In an interview with The West Block guest host Abigail Bimman, Nenshi expressed his frustration with the fact that people refusing to wear masks and gathering in large crowds are endangering others.”  https://globalnews.ca/news/7843813/naheed-nenshi-covid-pandemic-vaccinations/