Dec 15, 2021

 Maytree Series: Advancing justice – Akwatu Khenti
 Rethinking community policing: Civilian partners in public safety

Part of a continuing series, this article looks to the efforts to broaden the notion of public safety beyond the normal police response to the wider social and public health perspective, and the consequences for police in a new role like this.  “Widespread, problematic trends such as disproportionate violence by police in their interactions with racialized citizens, particularly those from Indigenous and Black communities, are policy priorities in municipalities across the country. The intersections of race with homelessness and with mental health and substance abuse challenges are widely perceived as symptomatic of entrenched, systemic bias within Canadian policing…  Though police reform has long been deemed necessary to address inherent structural issues, police forces and governments have largely circumvented any meaningful accountability to bring about the required changes.”

APTN News – Kathleen Martens
Feds need a commission to review ‘miscarriages of justice’ for Indigenous and Black inmates: Judges

“Harry LaForme, the first Indigenous lawyer on an appellate court in Canada, and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, the first Black judge in Quebec, were tasked with helping formulate a new Criminal Case Review Commission for Justice Canada.”  The two delivered a report to the Federal government on Dec 9.  They say:   “The current system has failed to provide remedies for women, Indigenous or Black people in the same proportion as they are represented in Canada’s prisons,” said their executive summary… We believe that the new commission must be proactive and reach out to potential applicants, including Indigenous people, Black people, women and others who may have reasons to distrust a criminal justice system that had convicted them and denied their appeals.”

The Lawyer’s Daily – Murray Fallis
Let innovation stop crime

Here’s a rather rash analysis by one of John Howard Society lawyers.  First, let’s acknowledge two facts: Corrections Canada is charged with confronting crime; second, Corrections Canada is well behind the rest of the world in confronting crime with any sort of innovation that uses the rehab skills programs found in so many places, e.g. the UK, Belgium, and Australia.  Fallis also points out one failed effort in which CSC pulled the plug on a computer access training to help with post release coping.

CBC News –
Anand, Eyre offer official apology to victims of military sexual misconduct

To the attentive, this latest effort, an apology, to begin to address widespread sexual assault and rape in the military may seem like just another stutter step after the repeated initiatives already attempted.  Many are wondering what beyond the authoritarian structure of the military is at the root of the problem, also witnessed recently in the RCMP.  “The official apology — presented by Defence Minister Anita Anand, Gen. Wayne Eyre and deputy defence minister Jody Thomas on the government’s behalf.”  The measure of the pervasiveness is found in the numbers:  “As of Friday, 18,943 serving and retired members of the military, along with civilian defence workers, have submitted settlement claims as part of a class-action lawsuit against the federal government over sexual misconduct.”

Toronto Star – Tonda MacCharles
Justin Trudeau says he is staying out of the fight over Quebec’s Bill 21 — for now

The question of religious symbols and Quebec’s Bill 21 banning them from public spaces has erupted again in the firing of an elementary school teacher who wears a hijab.  The question about the firing of elementary teacher Fatemeh Anvari is at the crux of human rights but political expediency seems to hover over the issue very closely.  The feds say not now to intervention and the Quebec government says that the Chelsea board should not have hired Anvari in the first place.  The issue will not go away and is bound to become more heated.   Related article: CTV News – Michael Woods   Protest planned in Chelsea, Que. after hijab-wearing teacher removed from classroom  Tweet from Gerald Butts:  “With the greatest respect to my former colleagues, this isn’t just about Bill 21 and Quebec now. It’s about whether every Canadian can depend on the Charter to protect them from state discrimination. I really hope there’s a plan here. It’s a big thing, not a small thing.”  (@gmbutts)  Ottawa Citizen: Canadian Press   NDP leader Singh would back federal intervention in court challenge to Quebec’s Bill 21

 The Guardian (Manchester, UK) – Martha Spurrier
Who will stop human rights abuses if the government puts itself above the law? Dominic Raab’s attempt to hollow out protections and stifle judges will make state abuse of power unpunishable

Raab, the Justice Secretary, announced the intent of government to overhaul the human rights code, alarming many with the direction and changes in store for all citizens.  “Raab’s plans make for grim reading. They include stripping away the right to family and private life. This is being done under the guise of the deportation of “foreign criminals”, a proposal that goes hand in hand with the government’s determination to use the revoking of citizenship as a punishment, creating instead a tiered system of rights protection based on your immigration status. But human rights are universal – take them from one group and you take them from all of us.” Fears also include the reversal of positive obligations of government and its agencies to intervene in human rights violations.  The pursuit of this revision may well be the first major incursion into the assurance of constitutionally guaranteed human rights by an authoritarian government.

National Observer – Natasha Bulowski
Ultra-rich families hold a quarter of Canada’s wealth

“Canada’s richest families hold nearly 25 per cent of the country’s wealth while the bottom 40 per cent of Canadians own just over one per cent, according to a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) released Thursday.”  The top 1% of Canada’s population increased their wealth by 5% since 1999.  Polling suggests that 89% of Canada’s population support a wealth tax to reduce the discrepancy.  The study of Canada’s wealth came from the Broadbent Institute efforts to establish the impact of the NDP proposal for a 1% wealth tax for those whose wealth was excess of $20 million.  The NDP also proposed a capital gains tax increase from 50% to 75%.

Bureau of Prisons (US) – E. Ann Carson, Ph.D.
Just released: Prisoners in 2020 – Statistical Tables

The stats are compiled from all fifty states and the federal Bureau of Prisons and are published annually.  The report is present in both summary format and the full report as downloadable pdf. The report is announcing a 15% decrease in prison population – the actual decrease from 7% to 31% by states reporting (except Alaska +2%).  The rate is now 358 per 100,000 state and federal persons in prison, 1,182,200 in 2020 down from 1,430,200 in 2019.  The report does not comment on why the decrease but does look at influences from Covid-19. Likewise, the report deals only with those persons in prison and not with those under any sort of supervision. (One page summary; full report: Prisoners in 2020 – Statistical Tables  E. Ann Carson, Ph.D.,

Washington Post (US) – Hillary Blunt
Opinion: Thousands of incarcerated people deserve to come home. Here’s how prosecutors can help.

This opinion piece by a former San Francisco prosecutor highlights the latest effort to reduce needless incarceration.  Blunt founded For the People, a non-profit that seeks to reverse unjust sentences.  The new attention on the role of prosecutors reflects the fact that the vast majority of criminal convictions are concluded in a plea deal with the prosecutor who plays a huge role then in determining on an agreed sentence.  Kenneth “Isaiah” Love was sentenced to 28 years for robbery and spent 13 years in prison getting college degrees.  “Love is one of more than 100 people to date who have been released through Prosecutor-Initiated Resentencing (PIR), an innovation born in California. PIR allows prosecutors — whose role has traditionally been to put people in prison — to get people out when the sentence is no longer in the interest of justice.”   Related article:  NBC News (Colorado) – Wilson Beese, Janet Oravetz, Katie Eastman  Driver gets 110 years in fiery I-70 crash that killed 4 – Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty on 27 counts, including four counts of vehicular manslaughter, after the April 2019 crash near Lakewood.

Ottawa Lawyer Michael Spratt on Twitter:

Breaking: Massive COVID outbreak at the Brockville jail. How big you ask? They are shutting it down and transferring everyone prisoner out of the jurisdiction. A bad day for the justice system and a huge failing by @SylviaJonesMPP  @douglasdowney  and the Ontario government.   (@mspratt)

City of Regina:  Community Safety and Well-being Plan   “The CSWB Plan is the result of extensive engagement with community stakeholders and front-line community support providers, residents with a diverse range of lived experiences, and feedback from the general public. The Plan was approved by City Council on November 25, 2021.”

The Norman Transcript (OK) – Max Bryan
NPD, council agree to further use of force analysis

The link may be considered a primer for small town examination and action on the police use of force, a topic of common concern in Canada.  “A report released to the public Dec. 6 by Center for Policing Equity showed 16.5% of NPD’s 267 uses of force from 2016 to June 2020 were against Black people, who are roughly 4.7% of the city’s population. The report, which stated 17% of uses of force from NPD are on Black people, asserted NPD used force on Black people 3.4 times as often as on white people in that time.”