Jan 20, 2022 

The Lawyer’s Daily – Christopher Guly
Problem of ‘unjustified’ convictions raised as Appeal Court orders retrial in murder case: Lawyer

The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial that James Lockyer regrets.  He wanted a directed verdict of dismissal of the charges in the light of the decision by the trial judge not to repeat the evidence of four witnesses at the request of the jury during the trial that convicted Miguel Chacon-Perez of second degree murder in 2018.  “In his reasons, Justice Watt wrote that section 686(1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Code “permits a court of appeal to allow an appeal from conviction on the basis that the conviction is unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence adduced at trial. The question framed by s. 686(1) (a) (i) is whether the verdict is unreasonable on the evidence received at trial, not whether the verdict is unjustified.”  Lockyer has been at the forefront of the Innocence Project in Canada, a group that tackles miscarriages of justice.  Lockyer says:  “Essentially, it means that verdicts are upheld, even though an appeal court is concerned that the person convicted may well be innocent,” he explained.”  Lockyer is expecting a federal Minister Lametti promise to establish an independent commission to address cases of wrongful conviction.   Related article: The (US) – Liliana Segura  “Innocence Isn’t Enough”: Arizona Urges the Supreme Court to Send Barry Jones Back to Death Row – The case has far-reaching implications: Should new evidence be ignored by the federal courts even when it exposes a wrongful conviction? 

National Post – Anja Karadeglija
More than one in four Canadians support jail time for the unvaccinated, poll finds – In the Maru poll, 27 per cent of respondents say it would be OK to jail the unvaccinated for up to five days

According to a recent Maru poll, 37% of Canadians are in favour of denying health care to the unvaccinated and a 27% would approve a short jail sentence of 5 days.  33% in the survey advocated for denial of the driver’s licence.  Rather than resolving the vaccination problem, the survey may just be measuring our reliance on punishment as the best way to achieve compliance with the health mandate.

European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN)
Towards evidence-based crime prevention in the EU

The EUCPN has adopted a program calculated to encourage partners in the European states to adopt an evidence based approach to what will actually prevent crime.  The strategy includes: “A set of criteria that serve as minimum thresholds for assessing crime prevention interventions for further dissemination by the Network; a set of other types of evidence and knowledge that the Network should continue to share with its target groups in order to improve the crime prevention field; a roadmap containing the actions the Network will take to increase the uptake of evidence-based practice in the EU crime prevention field.   Full document:  Towards evidence-based crime prevention in the EU  (An 11 page downloadable pdf.)

Policy Options – Emilie Coyle and Jackie Omstead
The use of solitary confinement continues in Canada – Despite the government’s announcement that it abolished solitary confinement, it continues under new names, a violation of Canada’s Charter.

The Canadian government declared the en do solitary confinement in prisons on Sept. 30, 2019.  It’s the follow through that’s problematic:  “The truth is, however, that there is no humane way to hold someone in solitary confinement. Whatever the form of solitary confinement – SIUs, mental health monitoring, lockdowns, dry celling – all are characterized by constant observation, intense isolation and severe mental health implications. Instead, there must be security practices implemented that require CSC – and the government – to see the people in prison as, just that: people. The question, then, is not what the alternatives to solitary confinement are, but why CSC is not willing to use them?”  Additionally, the practice of ‘dry celling’ has been outlawed by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Pew Foundation (US) – Julie Wertheimer & Tracy Velázquez
Jail Admissions Have Fallen, but Average Length of Stay Is Up, Study Shows – Pew-funded look at three counties also finds racial disparities in jail populations and lengths of stay

One may begin to suspect that our society has a commitment to keep the prisons full rather than empty them, even in the face of the Covid prevention releases.  Pew and John Jay College collaborated on a report that suggest that while the influx of new people sentenced is slowing (perhaps because Covid has backed up the court system) those already in prison are there for longer – between 18-24% longer, leaving the prison population somewhat neutral for the conflux of these circumstances.  A further factor was the number with bail too high to meet who accounted for over 2/3 the bed spaces.  Summary of Full Report:  Understanding Trends in Jail Populations, 2014-2019: A Multi-Site Analysis   Related article: Pew Foundation – Aidan Connaughton   Americans see stronger societal conflicts than people in other advanced economies  Full Pew Report:  Diversity and Division in Advanced Economies: Most embrace diversity but see conflicts between partisan, racial and ethnic groups