Nov. 25, 2022

The Conversation (Queen’s) – Joanna Pozzulo and Emily Pica
Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of known wrongful convictions

Wrongful convictions are sufficiently common that the legal system is looking to understand how they occur and equally important how to fix them quickly.  The stats are difficult to establish and mostly the problem becomes public when noteworthy cases become public, such as David Milgaard, Leighton Hay and Steven Truscott.  There are currently about 90 cases under review by Innocence Canada but the reviews depend on volunteer agencies and the resources available.  The most common element of a wrongful conviction, says Innocence Canada, is false eye witness testimony and the second is false confession.

Ottawa Citizen – Yavar Hameed,  Haniya Saeed
Hameed and Saeed: End the detention of immigrants in Ontario jails – The Canada Border Services Agency subcontracts the detention of immigrants to provincial authorities for violations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The result is dehumanizing.

Since 2006, the federal government has had a co0ntract with provincial jails to hold immigration detainees, 7,215 on average each year at a cost just under $400 per day.  While not all provinces have this contract – some have refused to house immigration detainees in jails – Ontario stil provides this service to the feds.  “Provincial incarceration represents a disproportionate and inhumane response to immigration control that has been normalized for decades. It places immigration detainees in jail. Sometimes indefinitely. Human Rights Watch has documented a disproportionate impact of immigration detention upon communities of colour, including Black men, who face more restrictive conditions. Immigration detention also creates discriminatory effects for persons with disabilities. It is an inherently punitive system.”

Homeless Hub Newsletter – Connecting the Shadow Pandemic of Violence against Women and Homelessness: Watetu wa Gichuki / McMaster University
 The Connection between COVID-19 and the Uptick in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

The stats for Canada are quite startling: “In Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. According to police-reported data from 2019, 79% of the 107,810 people aged 15 and over who experienced IPV were women.”  The problems that need addressing are also consistent with good sense and entirely possible:  “Supporting women in securing safe accommodations in the community is paramount, but equally important is ensuring women are able to keep their housing. It is imperative that IPV support strategies move beyond band-aid solutions and look for strategies that address the systemic barriers that continue to prevent women from becoming economically dependent.”  (Ed note: Friday, Nov. 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  Kairos Canada is launching a 16 Days of Activism:  “This annual global campaign commences on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day.”  and The UN Women: )

Newsweek (US) – Ellen Flenniken , deputy director, ACLU Justice Division
Voters Deserve Safety and Justice, Not Fear

The analysis of the US midterm elections is prompting a closer look at what the elections say about fear of crime as a motivator for votes. Flenniken says:  “Turns out tough on crime isn’t just bad policy, it’s bad politics…If this cycle has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t believe lazy punditry, including analyses that ignore the results of the election and perpetuate the false binary of tough versus soft. We have the option to be smart on crime, and examples abound of voters choosing both safety and justice this election cycle.”  The practical implications are found in the opinions of people around the current crime issues: “People across the political spectrum agree that our criminal justice system is broken, and it’s time to fix it. Eighty percent agree that the criminal legal system needs reform. And four out of five believe those experiencing mental health, suicide, or drug crises should be treated by a health care provider or crisis counselor, not by law enforcement. Eighty-three percent said the war on drugs has failed, while two-thirds support eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and reinvesting drug enforcement resources into treatment and addiction services. And even in an environment rife with fear-mongering and stigmatization, 68 percent support ending or shortening the prison sentences of individuals determined not to pose a threat to public safety.”  What now? Can we change the public conversation about public safety?    Related article: The Conversation (Queen’s) – Vinita Srivastava and Duncan McCue   How to decolonize journalism — Podcast   Related article: Washington Post – John Woodrow Cox   ‘We aren’t numb; we’re traumatized’: Another mass killing rocks U.S.

  European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN)
Myth Buster: Awareness-raising never hurts, does it?

From Europe here are five common myths around crime that mostly hinder any real effort to prevent it.  The first is the belief that awareness or knowledge about crime and its impact on our lives will lead to change; not necessarily so.  “Crime prevention initiatives often take the form of awareness-raising campaigns. However, there is little evidence that awareness in and of itself is able to prompt behavioural change, and consequently, that it can contribute much to crime prevention. Effective campaigns play into affective aspects of behavioural change and are part of integrated crime prevention strategies.”  EUCPRN offers some other myths as well and their caveat about what works:  “Embeddedness, strategy and integrated approach.”

CBC News – Ioanna Roumeliotis & Brenda Witmer
No uniforms, no guns: How police officers in Longueuil, Que., are confronting bias – Immersion program takes officers off patrol and into people’s lives in the community

Here’s the reality for the Longueuil police:  “In Longueuil, the future of policing is already here. From suicide calls to checking in on people who haven’t shown up at work for days, the majority of 911 calls have nothing to do with crime.”  The decision to train by immersion is bold, and promising.  “ It’s a paradigm shift — to put the emphasis on compassion over control — and it begins by bringing officers back to the classroom, in this case a rented church hall.”   Related article: Monia Mazigh – Racial bias and profiling in security intelligence: what we’re learning from the Rouleau Commission

Tweet from Parker Donham: On blind vengeance   “Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is poised to deport Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver whose tandem truck collided catastrophically with a bus carrying the Humbolt Junior Hockey team, killing 16. If he does so, it will be a triumph of blind vengeance over common sense.”  (cf thread)

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
Cops posing as underage sex workers not entrapment, Supreme Court rules unanimously – A first of its kind Ontario investigation that caught 104 men using an “escorts” website was lawful, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Thursday.

A scheme to entice people to pursue a sexual relationship with an under-aged person has been determined to be legally acceptable:  “Between 2014 and 2017, York Regional Police officers put ads on the “escorts” section of the now-closed website When people responded, an undercover officer posing as a sex worker would eventually disclose “she” was actually younger than 18 — as young as 14 years old… Police arrested everyone who actually showed up to the hotel room — 104 men — and charged them with child sex offences.”  On the question of the child luring entrapment, the nine justices of the Supreme Court said a resounding no!   Related article: Lawyer’s Daily – Cristin Schmitz    SCC rules 9-0 men seeking sex with minors were not entrapped by online police investigation

The Hill (US) – Julia Mueller
US passes 600 mass shootings for third straight year

The link offers an elusive if grim statistical version of the number of incidents of mass killing – the killing of four or more people in a public incident.  What is at odds is not that there is an incidence of almost two per day or that the number of people killed by firearms, enormous by any reckoning,  – almost 40,000 killed this year along – but which incidents get included in the stat.