What’s broken in the bail system…

Jan 16, 2023

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press
Premiers demand bail reform in letter to Trudeau after killing of OPP officer

The letter with the demand comes from Doug Ford but all ten premiers have asked the federal government to reform the bail laws of Canada in the light of the death of OPP Constable Greg Pierzchala.  The accused killer was on bail at the time and a re-arrest warrant dates from August 2022.  What exact reforms are sought is not clear but the request is clearly influenced by police associations.  Proponents seem also to ignore why the arrest warrant lay in abeyance for over 5 months.  One proposal is the notion of a reverse onus on an accused to show why bail should be granted, a measure that seems a little draconian when about 70% of people currently in jail are without conviction and already denied bail.  https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2023/01/14/premiers-demand-bail-reform-in-letter-to-trudeau-after-killing-of-opp-officer/#.Y8QTv2xVnZu  Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Jan 12, 2023)   Seeking solutions to crime – To solve a complex puzzle like crime, we must ensure that all pieces are on the table.   https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2023/01/12/fng6102023010416cpt638084301586911577.html?source=newsletter&utm_content=a10&utm_source=ts_nl&utm_medium=email&utm_email=404CAADEF7EB839FC77B1B04F0C251E1&utm_campaign=top_161764   Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung  ‘Why was he in a maximum-security prison?’ Advocates want answers on immigration detainee’s death in custody – More than seven years later, an inquest will start Monday into the death of Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan, a man with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.   https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2023/01/15/why-was-he-in-a-maximum-security-prison-advocates-want-answers-on-immigration-detainees-death-in-custody.html?itm_source=parsely-api

Toronto Star – Jeremy Nuttall
Should Canada dismantle its Mounties? Why some say the time has come – More funding? Major reforms? A smaller footprint? What the future could hold for the RCMP

This is the fifth of a series examining policing in Canada.  Nuttall suggests a number of constant criticisms: trying to all things to all, succeeding at some, failing at other chores; too big to administer; properly; losing trust among Canadians; lack of transparency, walls of silence and needful of a civilian Commissioner.  And as usual, those who defend the RCMP say it comes down to a lack of adequate funding, presently sourced from all three levels of government.  There is also a contradictory 76% satisfaction rate among Canadians.  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2023/01/08/should-canada-dismantle-its-mounties-why-some-say-the-time-has-come.html?source=newsletter&utm_content=a02&utm_source=ts_nl&utm_medium=email&utm_email=404CAADEF7EB839FC77B1B04F0C251E1&utm_campaign=lng_161759   Related article Youtube    B.C. Mountie’s controversial website prompts concerns over police bias https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwlind2OLCo  Related tweet from Winnipeg Police causes harm  On rent-a-cop    “We’ve received an account of a scary interaction that just happened with a “special duty” cop at the Superstore on Gateway Rd. in East Kildonan. The text/photo in the thread below is all directly from the person who sent it to us. (cf string) https://twitter.com/WpgPoliceHarm/status/1614731938568495104?s=20&t=4ug3rQvhrVx3yxTXgeOaAw

National Post (Canada) – Sabrina Maddeaux
Stop punishing victims of crime who exercise self-defence – Those who defend themselves from violent attacks are too often treated as wrongdoers

One of the areas of terrible inconsistency and therefore injustice in the Canadian legal system is the area of self-defence, often in the context of repeated male violence towards a female partner or spouse.  When pushed to this ultimate defence, Maddeaux has some advice:  “The bottom line: if you ever need to defend yourself, you’d better hope police find you a sympathetic character, aren’t offended by your choice of weapon and believe the unfortunate truth that, sometimes, violence is justified.”  But there are also incidents outside the domestic violence context that suggest the process of self-defence should be re-visited.  https://nationalpost.com/opinion/stop-punishing-victims-of-crime-who-exercise-self-defence

The Marshall Project (US) – The Closing Argument – Jamiles Lartey
Virginia School Shooting Tests How Young Is Too Young to be Prosecuted – Nearly half of U.S. states have no minimum age for prosecution, unlike most nations.

The recent shooting in a Virginia elementary school by a 6 year old has promoted a review of the state law involving the age for both prosecution and for raising a juvenile to adult status.  World-wide, the standard seems to be less than seven no prosecution but Virginia has no such restriction in age for prosecution.  Some states also prevent criminal prosecution under 10; some 13; and many try to prevent raising juveniles charged with violent offences to adult court. But says Lartey:  “Before children can ever be prosecuted, they have to be arrested — something that happens with shocking regularity in U.S. schools, and rarely for something as serious as using a gun. At least 2,600 children between ages 5 and 9 were arrested in schools between 2000 and 2019, according to a 2022 USA Today investigation, often for childhood behaviors like temper tantrums. Similarly, CBS News found more than 700 children were arrested in U.S. elementary schools during the 2017-2018 school year alone, and that Black and disabled students were overrepresented in those numbers.”  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2023/01/14/virginia-school-shooting-juvenile-justice-minimum-age  Related article: BC Tyee – Katie Hyslop   Despite Claims, School Liaison Officers Received No Special Training – An FOI request filed by The Tyee reveals the VPD did not offer specific instruction for officers working in schools.   https://thetyee.ca/News/2023/01/13/School-Liaison-Officers-No-Special-Training/   Related article: CBC News – Richard Raycroft   The military cadet program is wrestling with its own systemic sexual misconduct problem – Military police report 257 sexual misconduct incidents at cadet camps, units from 2016 to 2019  https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cadet-sexual-misconduct-1.6712904

 Boston Review (US) – Thad Williamson
The Almost Inevitable Failure of Justice – The persistence of black poverty has become a permanent feature of U.S. democracy. We need an expanded political imagination to dismantle it.

The article offers a 50 year perspective on the life and work of Martin Luther King in the face of limited achievement in racial equality of the legal criminal system.  “King’s warning about the thinness of the country’s commitment to democracy was combined with a profound optimism that ending poverty and creating a truly free society was within reach—that Americans might at last choose justice…it is hard not to fear that the persistence of racial injustice and U.S. poverty is anything but a permanent feature of our democracy. There have been pilot and demonstration programs, tax incentives, competitive grant initiatives, and other policy steps aimed at steering investment toward low-income communities…The lopsided distribution of wealth characteristic of U.S. capitalism must be on the table in any discussion about realizing social justice—including the discussion of ghetto poverty.”   https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/thad-williamson-almost-inevitable-failure-justice/?utm_source=Boston+Review+Email+Subscribers&utm_campaign=eabbae4786-reading_list_12_17_22_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2cb428c5ad-eabbae4786-41290816&mc_cid=eabbae4786&mc_eid=27138107ab

Lawyer’s Daily – Cristin Schmitz
Ottawa allocates $1.5 million to help tackle justice system discrimination against Métis people

The funding comes over a period of three years and seeks to identify ways in which the criminal system discriminates against Indigenous people and ways to improve access to justice by the Indigenous, especially the Metis nations.  https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/42773/ottawa-allocates-1-5-million-to-help-tackle-justice-system-discrimination-against-m-tis-people-?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal