May 9, 2022

APTN – Tom Fennario
‘Tormented my mental state’: Métis man sues Canada over his treatment in prison

This lawsuit highlights a double problem: “double dooring” and the loss of video tape around incidents in prison.  “Double dooring” refers to the practice of eliminating any escape so as to prompt a fight between incarcerated persons.  Then, the usual security video tapes disappear and the fighters further punished.  The Edmonton Institution has settled several such lawsuits for undisclosed amounts.  “The Correctional Investigator  also says that “evidence shows these attacks were planned and orchestrated events that escalated over time and that EI [Edmonton Institution] staff and management consistently looked the other way when incidents occurred.”

Sojourners Magazine (US) – Renée Darline Roden
Why Rikers Alumni Debated Cash Bail with Catholic Students

Regis High School, a Jesuit school in New York, is known as an education desirable for the up-and-coming youth.  The link highlights both an event and an approach to controversy not often heard in these extremely polarized times: debate.  The focus this time is the use of cash bail and features two debaters from the Rikers Debate Project and two Regis students.  Neither team chose the side to defend but were assigned a side on the issue:  “Should cash bail be abolished?”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy (US) –  Allana Jackson, Alexandra Williams, Nidhi Sahni, and Cora Daniel
Ahead of Mother’s Day, Let’s Remember and Support Moms Behind Bars

One of the fruits of mass incarceration is that the process and the results are often gender blind and the stats reveal a disturbing reality: the rate of women imprisonment growth is currently double that of men.  From 1980 when 26,000 women were in jail, there are now 236,000 in 2019.  Equally disturbing is the assessment of why women are in prison:  Sexual abuse and sexual violence have become such accurate predicators of girls’ entry into the criminal legal system that researchers now talk about the “sexual abuse to prison pipeline.”  That pipeline includes girls who are victims of sex trafficking and those who run away from home because of sexual abuse and are arrested for truancy.”  Further, one in four women in jail were too poor to make bail – no convictions at all.   Related article: Brief Policy Perspective – Leisha Goel  The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: What is it, and What Can Be Done?   CBC Radio Podcast: White Coat Black Art with Dr. Brian Goldman – Toronto psychiatrists Dr. Bob Maunder and Dr. Jon Hunter are calling for radical change to deal with this national epidemic in their new book, “Damaged: Childhood Trauma, Adult Illness, and the Need for a Health Care Revolution.”

Los Angeles Times (US)  – Tejal Kothari and Carson White
Op-Ed: Stop using cash bail to separate mothers from their children

“Roughly 4,300 women across California will spend this Mother’s Day in pretrial custody. An estimated 80% are mothers, and most are their children’s primary caretakers. Pretrial incarceration — leading to coerced guilty pleas, unemployment and housing loss — devastates these women and their children, who are left behind.”   Related article: Prison Policy Initiatives – Stephen Raher   Insufficient funds: How prison and jail “release cards” perpetuate the cycle of poverty – We examined release card companies’ fee structures to learn how this industry has evolved, and what government leaders can do to stop its worst practices.   Related article: Lancaster University (UK) – Claire Fitzpatrick, Katie Hunter, Julie Shaw & Jo Staine   Disrupting the Routes between Care and Custody – Learning from Girls and Women in the Care and Criminal Justice Systems   Full report: (193 p downloadable pdf)

 CBC News – Catherine Tunney
RCMP looks to bolster its ranks with civilians, says it’s ‘playing with the DNA’ of the service

The RCMP are looking to make permanent a hiring experiment with 14 civilians in roles dictated by cyber-expertise and finance expertise for money laundering crime.  The recruiting program is running into the same obstacles as private industry but the RCMP is hoping to hire as many as 100 such individuals within the year.  The immediate issues for such hiring appear to be the competitive salary from private industry and the intense security clearance for the jobs.

The Manchester Guardian (UK) – Oliver Laughland
Life in prison for stealing $20: how the Division is taking apart brutal criminal sentences – Part two: The New Orleans civil rights division reckons with a case involving an egregious sentence – and a policy that has punished the city’s poorest for decades

Louisiana has the record for rates of imprisonment in the world, even compared to whole countries.  The link offers an explanation about how it happens that a person goes to jail for life for attempting to steal a purse with $20.  The issue the story really raises is why the law does not correct itself or get corrected by supposed guardians of the law when outrageous events play out.  Maurice Lewis, in this case, was not a career criminal, but was convicted under the three strike law and served 23 years of a life sentence before the matter was addressed.  What is worse, he served the time in Angola, one of the worst prisons in the world.    Related article: the Manchester Guardian (UK) – Oliver Laughland   The Division: New Orleans – Part 1   Other articles on the New Orleans justice scene:

St. Louis Post Dispatch (US) – Tony Messenger
Jury foreman pleads for leniency in case where law, not facts, dictated outcome

The case is most unusual and involves the practice of “felony law,” in this case second degree murder. Felony second degree murder prohibits a self-defence plea. Here is a partial content of the letter’s astounding content sent by the jury foreman, Jason Cummings, to the judge, Circuit Court Judge Katherine Fowler, after delivering a guilty verdict to the court:  “The jury’s hands were tied and had no choice but to convict an innocent man of second degree murder,” Cummings wrote in his April 27 letter. “This felt so wrong and still feels wrong …While I know you did not create the law, I can firmly say that this particular law is completely broken, and as a result, an innocent man will lose a substantial portion of his life, simply due to a mistake that was made 20 years prior.”