Mum’s the word…

May 17, 2021

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
She wanted to tell you about her sex assault. The court has finally let her

Morrell Andrews has a story to tell and without her knowledge or consent she was banned by the court from telling about herself as a sexual assault victim.  In a court where the convicted assaulter was being sentenced she was allowed to voice her victim impact statement before sentencing.  But she has plans so that other victims are not silenced.  “…she wants to advocate for changes to the Criminal Code to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to lift publication bans and to ensure victims are not penalized for violating publication bans on their own identities.”

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
‘Alarming’ lack of clear strategy for LGBTQ inclusion practices across federal government, new report finds

The LGBT Purge Fund — released Monday to coincide with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – is offering 23 recommendations on how to make the work place, including federal agencies like the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency, more inclusive of the LGBTQI2S  (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Two Spirit).  The report says that, thus far, most of the work of reconciliation is being done by the victims and that it is now time for the government and agencies to begin implementation of improvements. “Because there’s no clear, overarching strategy with “measurable outcomes” for LGBTQI2S initiatives across government, it can lead to a lack of resources, “with little attention” paid to effectiveness, the report found.”  Full report:  LGBT Purge Fund releases “Emerging from the Purge: The State of LGBTQI2S Inclusion in the Federal Workplace and Recommendations for Improvement”   Home page LGBT Purge Fund:   Related article: ISSUU (UK) Women in prison: The Bent Bars Project   New Resources for LGBTQ+ People in Prison

The Guardian (UK – US desk) – Richard Luscombe
Man who spent 22 years in solitary urges Illinois to curb ‘psychological torture’ – Anthony Gay, who calls solitary confinement ‘wrong, despicable and horrible’, hopes bill passed by lower house will become law

The evidence of the damages solitary does to the mental health of the person so inflicted has been more than clear for some time, yet cases like this one are still surfacing, not as historic but as lived reality.  The case of Anthony Gay is even more horrendous given that his experience stemmed from the theft of a hat and a dollar bill and led him personally through self-mutilation and a suicide attempt. “According to the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), 80,000 inmates are held in some form of isolation across the US on any given day, and more than 10,000 are released to society from solitary confinement every year with an increased risk of anxiety, depression or suicide.”  Related article: Forbes Magazine – Amanda Nguyen   Born In Prison, How One Woman Used Her Trauma To Write The Post Traumatic Prison Disorder Act   Related article: Des Moines Register (Iowa, US) – Erica Spiller and Peggy Long  Opinion: Inequities are deep and numerous for incarcerated women, and it’s time to intervene – We can and must create meaningful change in our criminal justice system and community support programs.   Related article: Blogger Russell Webster (UK)   Judges Must Consider Rights Of Children When Sentencing Mothers      Full Report:  House of Commons Joint Committee Report on Human Rights:  Children of mothers in prison and the right to family life: The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill  (2021)    Medical Express:  (Repeat Link to University of Glasgow study on head injuries and abuse from last newsletter)   Research finds significant head injury in women prisoners linked with past abuse  (Includes new details on the study.)

American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) – Udi Ofer
Police reform at first blush…

The link is to a thread of twitter entries that provide the broad strokes of what Ofer (of the ACLU) calls genuine police reform and not playing around the edges. Brooklyn Center is the Minneapolis suburb where Daunte Wright was killed by police, leading to considerable racial and civic tensions.  Related article: CNN – Andy Rose, Sara Sidner and Alaa Elassar   Brooklyn Center City Council approves sweeping police reforms in the wake of Daunte Wright’s death  Related article: ABC News (KSTP TV) – Kyle Brown   Brooklyn Center City Council approves police reform resolution  Related article: CBS News (Minnesota) – David Shuman  Brooklyn Center Passes Sweeping Public Safety Resolution To Reform Policing  Related article: Input (Chicago, Ill)  Matt Willi   The Chicago Police reportedly bought secret drones using drug money  Related article: News & Observer (North Carolina) – Andrew Carter  Jury awards wrongfully convicted NC brothers $75 million in federal civil rights case     Related article: Washington Post – Griff Witte and David Weigel    With violent crime spiking, the push for police reform collides with voters’ fears

Law 360 (US) – Sarah Martinson
Resentencing Laws to Cut Terms Gain Momentum across US

The link has an assessment of the potential of resentencing laws to reduce mass incarceration and offers a map of the US states currently looking at the options.  The effort consists in authorizing judges to re-examine and reduce sentences (aka ‘second look laws’ ) for people after serving 15-20 years in prison.  “Research shows that long prison sentences don’t benefit public safety because people are already less likely to commit crimes as they get older, and the threat of long prison sentences doesn’t deter crime…”  The report derives support for its position from the Sentencing Project.   Related article: WAPT TV (NY) Soledad O’Brien   What Happens When The Criminal Justice System Gets it Wrong?   (A 5 min video; click on the button for a transcript.)   Related article: Georgetown woman turns incarceration into recovery wagon non-profit to inspire others

Big (US) – Scotty Hendricks
Study: You would spend 90 extra days in jail in a private prison – A new study suggests that private prisons hold prisoners for a longer period of time, wasting the cost savings that private prisons are supposed to provide over public ones.

The study in this case involves private prisons in the state of Mississippi but is a good update on some additional problems surfacing around private prisons.  The state requires that the private prison cut the state’s expense by 10% and for that reason sends prisoners preferentially first to the private prison.  The salaries of staff are 30% less and the prisoners will serve about 90 days more in the private prison with more infractions penalized and services reduced.