Repeat offenders…

Mar 14, 2022 

Center for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) – Richard Garside
Escaping the monotony of repeated failure

Garside is a well-known British activist in criminal justice and he raises the question that frustrates all of us, frequently and without satisfying answer: how to achieve significant change in policy vs “performance activism?”  The question is particular important when the public agenda is pre-occupied with numerous other crisis and the prison / criminal justice agenda is left aside for prolonged periods.  Garside is proposing “developing coherent and credible alternatives to the seemingly relentless drive to ever more prisons, and charting a path to the world we might wish it to be, while taking seriously the realities of the world as it is.”  Related article: Prison Strategy White Paper – Whitney Iles, Khatuna Tsintsadze and Charlie Weinberg  Trauma-Informed Prisons: paradox or paradigm Web page for the Center for Crime and Justice Studies:

 Ottawa Citizen – Jon Willing
What does the City of Ottawa need in its next police chief? The results from multiple investigations following the “Freedom Convoy” occupation will inform the police services board’s approach.

Ottawa, after the three week tantrum from the Trucker’s Convoy and its aftermath, is back to hiring a police chief after only three years since the last effort.  Mandi Pekan, director of the Street Resilience Project, says “it’s not that Sloly failed as chief, “it’s that the institution of policing is a failure by design.”   Heidi Languille, a long time advocate in Ottawa for the Innuit, says: “I don’t want someone who thinks they’re coming in to save our city. We don’t need a saviour. We need someone who’s willing to collaborate and build on the strengths that are already there.”   The thought that proficiency in the policing skills needs fundamentally to include working with the strength of community agencies may usher in a new era for policing.

The Washington Post (US) – Keith L. Alexander, Steven Rich, and Hannah Thacker
The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct – More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.

There are over 18,000 police departments in the US at the federal, state, county and municipal levels.  This information does not flow freely or evenly and represents 40,000 payments in the 25 largest jurisdictions during the ten years from 2010 – 2020.  The data excludes payments of $1,000 or less and discovered more than 1200 of the 7600 officers implicated had involvement in five or more incidents, more than 200 were involved in 10 such incidents.  The report includes charts showing the immediate charge and the amounts paid by reporting jurisdictions.  The report also articulates the defense offered for both repeat offenders and the high incidence including one offering that the lawsuits and settlements “were part of the price of policing.”

The Lawyer’s Daily – Amanda Jerome
Ontario court recognizes ‘new foundation for liability for family violence’

Does long term physical and emotional abuse in a marriage create a new basis for liability against the offending party?  Justice Renu Mandhane, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice thinks so and has ordered a $150,000 compensation for 16 years of mistreatment.  Madame Justice ruled:   “It was not just ‘unhappy’ or ‘dysfunctional’; it was violent. The family violence the Mother endured at the hands of the Father is not compensated through an award of spousal support,” she explained, adding that the Divorce Act “specifically prohibits me from considering ‘misconduct’ when making a spousal support award… On the rare and unusual facts” before her, Justice Mandhane determined that “the Mother is entitled to a remedy in tort that properly accounts for the extreme breach of trust occasioned by the Father’s violence, and that brings some degree of personal accountability to his conduct.”

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
What can big data tell us about criminal justice?

A new report on repeat offending comes from several datasets first from “the magistrates’ courts dataset includes 13,357,982 records from January 2011 to December 2020 and the Crown Court dataset comprises 1,000,827 records over the slightly shorter period from January 2013 to December 2020.” Now the findings allow analysis of the specific offence, the frequency of repeated appearances and the influence of deprived localities in the offences.  “Defendants returned disproportionately to the courts for the same offence, and those who returned to the court multiple times were more likely to be directed to the higher Crown Court. These findings suggest both a specialisation and escalation in offending behaviour and point towards the importance of targeting interventions to prevent criminal careers.”

The Marshall Project (US) – Maurice Chammah
How Melissa Lucio Went From Abuse Survivor to Death Row – Why some trauma victims are more likely to take responsibility for crimes, even when they may be innocent.

This kind of narrative seems to defy all logic and credibility: how could someone innocent confess to a heinous crime?  Melissa Lucio was sentenced to death by Texas and is scheduled for execution on April 27 based on her confession.  The article lays out an explanation in the lead up to the confession that puts Lucio’s entire guilt very much in question.   Related article: National Public Radio (NPR) – Carrie Johnson   Justice Department ends limiting compassionate release in plea deals after NPR story