Sapers and Doob back…

July 25, 2021  

Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup and Patrick White
Former correctional investigator Howard Sapers to chair federal advisory panel on prisoner isolation

In an apparent effort to salvage the mess the federal government made with the last review panel on the use of solitary, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has announced the appointment of Howard Sapers to chair the new federal watch and the renewal of the committee.  Dr. Anthony Doob (U of Toronto, criminology professor emeritus) will continue as a panel member, though it is not clear who the other members will be.  Government allowed the refusal of the CSC to provide data and the report from Doob’s panel to die of frustration rather than respond.  Sapers and Doob probably represent the best chances for any advice to have a longer shelf life.

Homeless Hub – Naomi Glogauer
The Connection between Homelessness and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

The link is to a site with timely information on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and the connection to homelessness.  The article includes description of the disorder and its causes and manifestation, its rates and prevalent populations.  Two surprising stats are that 60 of FASD people will be involved in the justice system either as victim or offender and 90% will struggle with mental health issues.

Criminological Highlights – Professor Anthony N. Doob and Rosemary Gartner

The July 2021 highlights offer eight articles of topical information around the criminal legal system: 1) How should one interpret denials by police that they engage in racially targeted policing?   2) Can probation supervision be made more effective?   3) How do immigrants’ views of their local police differ from the views of those with similar origins but who were born in the country?  4) Has judicial review of long stays in solitary confinement in prison been shown to be effective?  5) Does a court-ordered “certificate of qualification for employment” overcome the stigma of a criminal record when looking for a job? 6) Has the US “imprisonment rate” really decreased in recent years?  7) Does the full prosecution of drinking-driving offences reduce reoffending?  8) Are criminal justice responses to intimate partner violence effective in reducing repeat offending?  As usual, readers are invited to get their own subscription to this fine service. (note: there may a slight delay in getting the on-line version posted)   For subscriptions: or   Note that the professors are offering an index of historical articles as well at:

Globe and Mail – Jooyeung Lee
Joe Biden’s half-measures on gun violence only highlight Canada’s policy shortcomings

Lee, an associate professor of sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of Toronto, is saying that Biden has fallen into the old and debunked approach to crime consisting of hiring more police and setting up special task forces for targeted cities to control the flow of guns.  The US federal approach ignores all that incites the defund police arguments and the over-policing issues falling more heavily on racial minorities.  Lee uses recent US developments to pass into comparisons of the Canadian scene and our own government policies.

 Toronto Star – Shawn Micallef
What the city and police say about the crackdown on the homeless in Toronto parks seems at odds with reality. Why should we trust them?

Micallef draws attention to the deceit surfacing from city staff and politicians, including Mayor John Tory, around the recent encampment police activity in Toronto.  The first victim has become trust that one can accept as truth anything voiced by these officials.  The motivation and the aggressive police behaviour during the evictions are at issue, as is the deployment of so many police for so few encamped in the various sites already emptied without alternative for the campers.  The narrative has now again become the focus rather than the people badly treated and displaced without adequate alternative.   Related article: CTV News – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press   RCMP spied on Canadian nationalist committee over communist concerns

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)

There are 11.7 million people in prison globally…

Webster is citing the UN that there are an estimated approximately 12 million people in prison across the world, 1/3 of them un-sentenced.  Further alarming, since 2000 there has been a 25% increase in imprisoned men with the imprisoned women increasing even faster over the men, now at 33%.  The number of prisoners per 100,000 cedes first place to America with 600 with a world average of 159.  Full report:  UN Office on Drugs and Crime:  Nearly twelve million people imprisoned globally nearly one-third un-sentenced with prisons overcrowded in half of all countries   Related article: Business Insider – Heather Schlitz     Some companies are using prison labor amid claims of a worker shortage. Critics argue they should just raise wages instead.

Maytree Foundation –
Advancing justice: Human rights, poverty, racism, and Canada’s criminal justice system

This is a new effort to trace in the justice system the impact of human rights, racism, and poverty. “We explore themes such as the historical roots of the present-day realities, the challenges associated with the lack of race-based data, issues specific to Indigenous communities, lack of access to justice, as well as potential solutions and promising practices.”  The first of the articles is by Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and is entitled:  Understanding the impact of racism, colonialism, and poverty on Canada’s criminal justice system   Related article: US Department of Justice (Civil Rights Division)  – Former Alabama Correctional Supervisor Convicted for Allowing Inmate Abuse  Related article: The Marshall Project -Keri Blakinger    ‘I Have No Teeth’: Michigan Prisoners Say Long Wait to See Dentist Is Inhumane

 Pew Foundation – John Gramlich
10 facts about the death penalty in the U.S.

Most people think that there is a consistent decline in the popular opinion about the death penalty in the US but in truth though executions have declined in the states the federal executions spiked under Trump and are now again suspended. The Pew study from April 2021 recognizes that the death penalty does not deter people from murder and nor does it properly protect innocent people.  Here are some recent polling results starting with the recognition that 6 of 10 adults in the US somewhat or strong favour the death penalty for convicted murderers.  Still, a majority of Americans see the death penalty as unfair.  Breakdowns for the influence of political and religious affiliations are included.   Related article: Death Penalty Watch (US) – Dismantle the gallows! Sierra Leone becomes the latest country to abolish the death penalty (110 countries in the world of 192 now have abolished the death penalty.)