Overcoming the system…

July 5, 2021

CBC News – Desmond Brown
Sexually assaulted at 8, incarcerated 4 times and lost the will to live — how this woman found her stars – ‘Just everywhere I went there was … something going on with being a victim,’ Jessica Compton says

Occasionally success stories come out of the criminal legal system but more than likely the narrative shows the stumbling blocks that the system created for people already wounded and struggling for survival.  Jessica Compton’ story is one of these.  A victim of sexual abuse from a home intruder, neglectful parents, foster homes and jailed four times, a rehab program set her on another road resulting in her founding the program called Tree of Stars for recovering addicts.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/jessica-compton-assault-story-1.6082329?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar   Related article: CBC News (SK) – Morgan Modjeski   ‘They don’t care’: Inmate complaints paint troubling portrait of Sask. jails during pandemic – Complaints show many inmates felt helpless, hopeless and angry… https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/provincial-jails-covid-19-dig-1.6080067

 Toronto Star – Susan Delacourt
Perry Bellegarde has some advice for non-Indigenous Canadians

Bellegarde is outgoing chief of the Assembly of First Nations after a seven year tenure.  Delacourt, in the middle of some of both the most tense and most hopeful times for significant change of the settler towards the Indigenous people wanted to know what Bellegarde thought was most important.  Here is his estimation of the best way for settlers to help. https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2021/07/04/perry-bellegarde-has-some-advice-for-non-indigenous-canadians.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=star_web_ymbii

Toronto Star – Omar Mosleh
As Muslim women are attacked in Alberta, a community asks: Can Canada face its Islamophobia problem?

This link offers a very personal description of a Somalia woman living in fear and taking extra vigilant steps to monitor her surrounding as she moves through the city.  “Every time I go out, it’s like before I was afraid of COVID, but now I’m more afraid of someone just attacking me out of nowhere,” Mohamud said. “And it’s not just for me — what if it’s someone I know: my cousin, my friend, even my mom? And I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to live in that fear…This is Canada. They always talk about diversity, multiculturalism and all of that. But I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like it.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/07/04/they-only-call-it-a-hate-crime-after-you-get-killed-as-muslim-women-are-attacked-in-alberta-a-community-asks-can-canada-face-its-islamophobia-problem.html

The Brennan Center (NY) – Peggy McGarry
Probation and Parole as Punishment – Community supervision must be transformed in order to help people caught up in the justice system, not hurt them further.

The link traces the origins of the parole practice and then looks at what that system has largely become.  The change from helpful support to punitive supervision became most severe in the efforts to cope with budget costs and the re-focus of supervision to law enforcement and parole rules.  “We will continue to see these trends until we intentionally recruit officers who are more interested in prevention than enforcement, unless we invest in officer training that focuses on how to help those on supervision to succeed, unless we change our reward structure to incentivize those whose clients succeed, and unless we stop ordering long terms of supervision and onerous conditions…We have not done these things primarily because we seem to be content to waste the lives of those who have broken the law. The damage we continue to do is of little concern to us. They are other. And, apparently, their lives don’t really matter.”  https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/probation-and-parole-punishment

WBEZ 9 (Chicago) – Shannon Heffernan
Lawmakers Are ‘Horrified’ and Calling For Action on Illinois Prison Abuse

The beating death and charges against three guards have led to a demand that the Illinois Correctional System be under outside supervision.  The death of Larry Earvin tipped the scale to the realization of widespread beatings within a portion of Western Illinois Correctional Center not covered by the internal video but reputed to be the place to beat prisoners.  Officials are silent but insisting that the blind spot now has cameras but John Howard director Jennifer Vollen-Katz says:  “It’s not just how many cameras are there and where are they placed. It’s who’s reviewing the footage? How often is the footage being reviewed? Is it made publicly available? Is it being shared? Is it being reported?”  Vollen-Katz wants independent surveillance and review of the videos.  https://www.wbez.org/stories/lawmakers-are-horrified-and-calling-for-action-on-illinois-prison-abuse/ece8dbdb-a49f-4bbc-92a2-ae725cc27b07

Prison Reform Trust (UK)
Prison: the facts – Bromley Briefings Summer 2021

Published twice annually, the Bromley Report, looked on as the most reliable indication of prison use, tells all about the facts arounds around the British prison system.  This report compares the facts of imprisonment in the UK with other countries and concludes that England, Scotland and Wales have the highest imprisonment rates of Western Europe with a 74% increase in the imprisonment rate in the last 30 years, comparable to what is called mass incarceration in the US.  The system in the opinion of the Bromley authors is overused for non-violent crimes and for people sentenced to six months or less.  “Drawn largely from government sources, these facts chart the extraordinary rise in prison numbers over the last twenty years, inflation in sentencing and the social and economic consequences of overuse of custody. They reveal the state of our overcrowded prisons and the state of people in them, the impact of deep budget cuts, the pace and scale of change in the justice system and the scope for community solutions to crime.”  http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Bromley%20Briefings/Summer%202021%20briefing%20web%20FINAL.pdf   CF also Blogger Russell Webster (UK) Commentary on the latest Bromley Report  https://www.russellwebster.com/all-the-latest-prison-facts-and-figures/   Related article: USA Today – Kristine Phillips   ‘Scared and confused’: Elderly inmate sent home during COVID is back in prison after going to computer class   https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/7795965002

Waterloo Regional Crime Prevention Committee
(Re)Think “Crime” …because it’s not real. WRCPC UPstream Series, June 19, 2021

This is one of a series of previously held sessions recorded and available on Youtube.  The sessions are generally two hours long and focused on new understanding that emphasize an “upstream” approach in which the preventive approach is more effective.  The others in this series to date include structural violence.  Jessica Hutchinson is this speaker.   The series stands at four presently.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymMthtXXJx4  WRCPC Website:  https://preventingcrime.ca/