Judges to rule…

Aug 24, 2021

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rules to consider history of racism, marginalization in cases

For some time now, Canada has had the Gladue ruling requiring judges to consider the personal and cultural background of Indigenous people to be sentenced.  Nova Scotia has reached a milestone by requiring similar considerations when Black people are to be sentenced.  “…trial judges need to consider the history of racism and marginalization that shaped them, and do their utmost not to put them behind bars where appropriate.”  What is powerful in this announcement is the realization that prison is the last resort, as for Indigenous people since 1996, and now Black people, the two most frequently over-represented in the criminal system.  Equally so, the ruling places the onus for fairness not on legislated sentencing but on judges.  The ruling may also add some incentive to reduce both the prison population and the use of prison as first resort to deter crime.  The Appeal Court decision was announced by Justice Anne Derrick, the ruling was 5 /0.   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-nova-scotia-court-of-appeal-rules-to-consider-history-of-racism/

The Conversation (Queen’s U) – Kirsten J. Fisher and Kathy Walker
Transitional justice for Indigenous Peoples should be a key federal election issue

The authors, both political science professors at the University of Saskatchewan, invite consideration of transitional justice as an election issue in Canada.  They understand the notion as justice “centred on accountability and redress for victims, refers to the ways countries emerging from periods of conflict and repression address large-scale or systematic human rights violations.”  They describe what they called “the contested terrain” en route.  https://theconversation.com/transitional-justice-for-indigenous-peoples-should-be-a-key-federal-election-issue-166452?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2024%202021&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2024%202021+CID_b3b030aef14f1d427dd4978af3fdad90&utm_source=campaign_monitor_ca&utm_term=key%20federal%20election%20issue  Related article: The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)     What is Transitional Justice?  https://www.ictj.org/about/transitional-justice   Related article: The Broadview – Romeo Saganash reflects on the 37-year journey to bring UNDRIP to Canada – A motion to align Canadian law with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples became law back in June  https://broadview.org/undrip-canada-romeo-saganash/

Global News – Stewart Bell
Extremist groups ‘actively recruiting’ military and police, Canadian intelligence report warns

Global is reporting on a recently de-classified report from Canadian Intelligence around the growth of hate groups in Canada.  Bell also quotes Bernie Farber of the Anti-Hate and focuses on the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Boogaloo Boys and the Three Percenters.  Of the 17 incidents of efforts to recruit new members, 6 have involved people with police or military background.  The report is re-capping assessment first released in November of 2020 but suggests that, though small, the memberships are growing in Canada.  https://globalnews.ca/news/8128463/extremist-groups-military-recruitment-report/

National Observer (Canada) – Shaena Lambert
I witnessed police attacking Canadians practicing civil disobedience at Fairy Creek

The article is an eye-witness account of a recent confrontation between people protesting old growth cutting at Fairy Creek and the RCMP.  In many ways the issue of cutting old growth can be an assessment as well of the general capacity for environmental concern.  “Standing apart with other witnesses, hearing their voices, I can’t help but be moved. These young activists blocking the road in an act of non-violent civil disobedience are apparently the only defence for the thousand-year-old trees in the Fairy Creek Forest. Biologists call it an irreplaceable ecosystem, home to almost extinct green lichen, endangered owls, bears, and marbled murrelets. As an old growth forest, it is also one of nature’s best ways to sequester carbon and off-set climate change.”   https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/08/22/news/i-witnessed-police-attacking-canadians-practicing-civil-disobedience-fairy-creek

The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA)
Transparency Spotlight

The link is to a BC non-profit organization (founded in 1991) focused on privacy and transparency issues as they related to 10 different categories / areas of interest for requests from professional news media for information.  The notion is to highlight and make available from some 6500 access-to-information requests by media the importance of transparency in public information.  Clicking on a particular category brings up the information in summary form with its source.  The security category, for example, has 104 entries listed from historic to 2020. Unfortunately, there is no justice category while there is a category for policing, a human rights, and a Health Care and Social Services.  https://fipa.bc.ca/transparency-spotlight/

NY Times – Michael Wines
A North Carolina court panel expands voting rights for parolees and people on probation.

A North Carolina state Superior Court panel has ruled that approximately 56,000 former prisoners or parolees, disproportionately Black, are entitled to be registered to vote in spite of their criminal past.  The ruling first delivered verbally is awaiting a written decision and then the Republican controlled Board of Electors and the State General Assembly will decide whether to appeal the ruling.  Republicans argue that the loss of the voting franchise for criminal conviction is a part of the state constitution.  The practice of denying the vote is commonplace but not entirely throughout the 50 states.  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/23/us/politics/north-carolina-former-felons-voting.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

Death Penalty Information Center (US) –
The Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death Penalty Convictions: Official Misconduct and Perjury or False Accusation

There have been a number of discoveries and remedies to false convictions, some involving the death penalty and some with long years of imprisonment.  The link is a study on the causes of wrongful conviction based on data from the National Registry of Exoneration.   Of 34 cases examined:  “Every one of these cases involved some combination of official misconduct, perjury or false accusation, or false or misleading forensic evidence; and more than three-quarters (26 cases, 76.5%) involved at least two of these factors. Fewer than one-tenth of the cases (3, 8.8%) involved a single wrongful cause. 91.2% (31 cases) had multiple contributing factors and nearly half (16 cases, 47.1%) had three or more contributing causes.”  Not a very encouraging or just track record.   https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/stories/dpic-analysis-causes-of-wrongful-convictions

Washington Post – Cathy Free
For hours each day, these prison inmates make personalized quilts for children in foster care

Known as the prison quilting circle, groups of prisoners spend hours making quilts with child themes patched together for children who are in care.  These particular prisoners in Missouri, says Joe Satherfield, a case manager at the prison, ““They especially love making something for kids who might have nothing. Social service caseworkers in the area provide us with the kids’ first names and birthdays, and the guys do the rest.” William White, 49, who once ran an upholstery business, now serving 25 years, and who works overtime on the various projects, says: “I don’t need much sleep, and besides, I’d rather be here doing something for a child who needs it.  Even though I’m incarcerated, I can still do something beautiful.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/08/18/prison-quilt-sew-foster-kids/