Pardons, again…

Jan 10, 2022

 Toronto Star Editorial Board (Jan 10, 2022)
The pardon system perpetuates disadvantage. Ottawa should fix it – ‘By limiting opportunities for employment and education, the cumbersome pardon system is perpetuating disadvantage.’

The pardon system in Canada, perhaps more than any other factor, is a major obstacle to ‘second chance’ or opportunity for rehabilitation.  Yet the system continues to present obstacles to allowing people convicted of crime, major or minor, from restoration to family and community.  How many are there who must answer ‘yes’ to the employment form that asks about a criminal record:  astoundingly one in nine Canadians or about 11% of the population.  A major step came when the fee for pardon was reduced from over $600 to $50. The editorial advocates for a ‘spent regime’ as endorse by over 60 organizations.  “Unfortunately, the federal government has yet to express support for a spent regime system. But if it’s interested in saving money, improving the pardon system, and improving many lives, it ought to.”   Related tweet: John Howard Canada – “Should people who have been convicted of crimes get automatic pardons when they have served their sentences? YES! Efficient, fair, with broader societal benefits of curbing discrimination and allowing fuller contribution?”   Related article:  Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant    Should people who have been convicted of crimes get automatic pardons when they have served their sentences? Canada needs to automatically pardon people convicted of crimes to reduce the barriers they face reintegrating into society, advocates say.   Related article: Did you know from the Parole Board of Canada:  “An offender serving a life sentence remains under sentence for the rest of their lives, even if they are eventually granted parole.”

The Lawyer’s Daily – Jeffrey Hartman
When I die bury me by Chuck’s Roadhouse near the 401

We have been hearing for some time about sexual harassment and sexual assault in both the RCMP and the military.  No one should be surprised with this latest revelation around Corrections Canada’s (CSC) latest survey of its women staffers – CSC’s 2021 National Employment Equity Survey of Women Employees.  Tongue-in-cheek, Hartman says there is a policy in place to prevent incidents:  “Oh wait, only 36 per cent of respondents agreed CSC has “appropriate” support measures to combat gender discrimination, and less than 50 per cent agreed CSC “works hard” to prevent it. “In fact, nearly every one of CSC’s measures currently in place to fight gender-based harassment or violence received a failing grade from survey respondents.”  Hartman has also thoughts on the growing number of incarcerated Indigenous women, CSC hollow response, and Elgin-Middlesex Detention facility in particular, near Chuck’s.

A welfare trap torn down once and for all with #basicincome

Here is the twitter link to Basic Income Canada and a set of excellent comments on elements that are commonly raised as reasons why the notion of an adequate and sustained level of basic income cannot work.   Mostly what we appear to offer as reasons against basic income are projections based on the present welfare system that basic income seeks to replace.

 Policy – Kathryn May
Sweeping deputy minister shuffle raises the question, « what took so long? » The biggest deputy minister shuffle in memory comes in unusual circumstances as the government forms its management slate to ease out of the pandemic.

The recent and sweeping changes within the top levels of the civil services are first presented and then assessed for impact or intent on the part of government.  In part the government is also responding to the retirement of 10 of these significant persons in government life.  “The Trudeau government may have made history with the biggest deputy minister shuffle in memory. And now the capital’s insiders are reading the tea leaves to discern where’s the power, who to watch and the future of the public service.”

 Equal Justice Initiative (US)
Prison Phone Companies Recording Attorney-Client Calls

This is startling news from lawyers about widespread and fundamental constitutional abuse involving both private prisons and the whole of the justice apparatus. “Prison phone companies Securus Technologies and Global Tel Link have allegedly recorded thousands of confidential phone calls between attorneys and their clients in prisons in at least nine states—and have let prosecutors listen to recordings of privileged attorney-client communications, VICE’s Motherboard reports. Prison Phone Companies Recording Attorney-Client Calls”   Related article:   Prison Phone Companies Are Recording Attorney-Client Calls Across the US – Lawyers say their conversations with incarcerated people are being recorded and analyzed by private companies in at least nine US states.   Related article: Time Magazine – Madelaine Carlisle    The Crisis at the D.C. Jail Began Decades Before Jan. 6 Defendants Started Raising Concerns

  The Marshall Project – Melissa Bickford as told to Maurice Chammah
The Criminal Justice Issue Nobody Talks About: Brain Injuries – I know firsthand what it’s like to navigate the criminal justice system with a brain injury caused by domestic violence. I also live with the fact that an injury like mine can turn a victim into a perpetrator.

The role of brain injury for both victims of crimes, especially domestic violence, and for perpetrators having suffered brain damage prior to engaging in offending is beginning to find credence in the system.  The link offers a first person experience illustrating the contribution of brain injury to crime.  Because of the frequency of brain injury in prisons, Bickford wants neurological exams for people under charges and in jail as a stepping stone to prevention.

N.Y. Times – Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum
Conflict Quickly Emerges between Top Prosecutor and Police Commissioner – A memo by New York City’s new police leader sharply questioned Manhattan’s new district attorney over his strategy for prosecuting crime.

As one may expect, reform district attorneys in the US are going to attract a lot of opposition for any change in the status quo.  Alvin Bragg has drawn the ire of the N.Y. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell for Bragg’s proposed changes in policy around crimes his office will not prosecute.  The DA’s policies are also like to draw attention from New York’s new Mayor Eric Adams, himself a former NYC Police Captain.  More to come, for sure!

A string of tweets from Ted Rutland(Canada):  Police Budget Changes    Here are the budget changes proposed or approved for Canada’s largest police forces – all increases. This is a graphic version of @policingblack‘s recent claim: “We are living through a violent, institutional backlash in the wake of historic protests in defence of Black life.”  Here are the budget changes proposed or approved for Canada’s largest police forces – all increases. (see link for graphic)  Related tweet: Ahmed Ali    “We fund what we value.  We police what we don’t.” (US) – Jeff Truesdell
How a Man Convicted of Murder at 14 Found Forgiveness, and Devoted Himself to Helping Young People – Xavier McElrath-Bey’s journey began with changing his own life — and now he works to change the lives of others

At age 14, McElrath-Bey was sentenced as an adult to life in prison for his role as a look-out in a gang killing.  He earned a bachelor’s degree while serving 13 years and was released on parole. “Now 46, he co-directs the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, an organization that lobbies states to end laws that lock up teens for life without parole.”  He has also reconciled with the family of the boy who was killed in the gang incident.