On the streets, in the jails…

Jan 26, 2023

CBC News – Paige Parsons
6 deaths, 4 months: Central Edmonton violence prompts concern for vulnerable – Housing desperately needed, advocates say

Cold, gangs, violence – that’s what people on the street confront in the attempt to survive what housing advocates say is totally unnecessary.  One lady, Mary Jo says: “…There’s been an increased presence of gangs and violence recently, and that she was once robbed after picking up her pension cheque at the bank… I come out there — two women shove me from behind. They took my money, my backpack,” she said. “I learned … you have to watch what’s behind you and what’s in front of you.”  Says Inspector Angela Kemp:  “…people living in encampments or spending time on the streets can end up as victims of what she calls “predatory violence.” She said there has been an increase in stranger-on-stranger assaults.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/6-deaths-4-months-central-edmonton-violence-prompts-concern-for-vulnerable-1.6721561


Toronto Star – Santiago Arias Orozco
Four 13-year-olds arrested in ‘despicable’ TTC swarming attack – The 13-year-old suspects were taken into custody a day after two TTC employees were assaulted on a bus in Scarborough by a group of 10 to 15 youths

This is the sort of article from which both ordinary people and advocates for justice can learn a lot.  The cue for rising concerns about youthful criminals may lead to the conclusion that the legal systems should repudiate all the gains in youth justice and return to tougher punishments.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2023/01/24/four-13-year-olds-arrested-in-despicable-ttc-swarming-attack.html   CBC News – Shanifar Nasser – Family of man killed in alleged Toronto ‘swarming’ attack breaks silence – Ken Lee had ‘heart of gold,’ says statement that also raises concerns about Youth Criminal Justice Act  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ken-lee-toronto-swarming-family-1.6719316  And finally, a commentary by well-respected University of Toronto Professor of Criminology, editor of Criminological Highlights,  Anthony Doob, who reviews the case. https://twitter.com/CrimHighlights

While we understand the public’s concern, esp. given recent reports of another similar attack, youth crime rates have declined generally since the 1990s, and continued to do so even after the introduction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) in 2003.

However, aside from the continued reduction in crime rates generally, in our view, (while not perfect) the YCJA has led to other positive changes, including aligning Canada’s treatment of young persons closer with the Charter and other Human Rights legislation.

As a highlighted study by Webster, Sprott, and Doob (2019) showed, “The data demonstrate reductions at all stages of youth justice processing between 1998 and 2015: fewer incidents (especially non-violent incidents) were reported to the police; …”

“… a smaller proportion of reported incidents resulted in charges; a lower proportion of cases in court resulted in findings of guilt; and a smaller proportion of those cases with a guilty finding resulted in a custodial sentence.”  (cf Criminological Highlights Dec 2019)

In conclusion, it appears we can continue to reduce youth crime rates while also staying committed to the reduced use of incarceration for young persons. It does not have to be one or the other.

Criminological Highlights (@CrimHighlights) tweeted at 3:47 p.m. on Tue, Jan 24, 2023:
Tony Doob of @CrimHighlights commented on the latest updates in the Toronto teen “swarming” attack
https://t.co/QbMBCEelQS (a thread): 1/

 Toronto Star – Robert Benzie
 Ontario claims $75M stolen in ‘kickback schemes’ run by alleged ringleader of COVID-19 fraud – In an expansion of the province’s civil case against the ex-bureaucrat accused in the alleged $11 million theft of COVID-19 relief funds, the Crown claims at least nine others are involved in a separate “conspiracy.”

Whatever else, if true, this allegation proves the axiom about going into crime with big ambition.  “In court filings on that matter, the government alleges Sanjay Madan, spouse Shalini Madan, their adult sons Chinmaya and Ujjawal, and associate Vidhan Singh funnelled cash to thousands of Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, TD, Tangerine, and India’s ICICI bank accounts in 2020.”  The kickback scheme with fee-for-service consultants revolved around computer services and it is difficult to know just how much money is involved, perhaps as much as $40 million plus a further $11 million from a program to offset additional costs for at home instruction.  Some of the money appears to be lodged in Panama Banks where there is no access for Canadian authorities.  https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2023/01/25/ontario-claims-75m-stolen-in-kickback-schemes-run-by-alleged-ringleader-of-covid-19-fraud.html?source=newsletter&utm_source=ts_nl&utm_medium=email&utm_email=404CAADEF7EB839FC77B1B04F0C251E1&utm_campaign=bn_163710

The Atlantic (US) – John J. Lennon
The Brutal Reality of Life in America’s Most Notorious Jail – I’ve been locked up in maximum-security prisons for two decades. My time on Rikers Island was worse.

For the past 21 years, I’ve been locked up, mostly in maximum-security prisons:    Clinton, Attica, Sing Sing, and now Sullivan, in the Catskills. But before my sentencing, I spent a few years on New York City’s Rikers Island. That period, and the year I did on the island as a teenager, was, by far, the most brutal.

You go to prison after you get sentenced. You go to a jail, like the ones housed in the sprawling mega-complex on Rikers, after you’re arrested and denied bail or can’t afford it. Jail is a tension-filled place, with months-long stretches between court dates, hours of nothingness, clashes over who’s next on the phone or who didn’t get extras on chicken day. What makes jail so hard is not knowing what is to become of you.  (Rikers: An Oral History – Graham Rayman and Reuven Blau, Random House) https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2023/01/rikers-island-oral-history-book-review/672795/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20230123&utm_term=The%20Atlantic%20Daily

The Sentencing Project – Ashley Nellis, Ph.D
Mass Incarceration Trends – The year 2023 marks the 50th year since the U.S. prison population began its unprecedented surge.

Here is concisely the longer view:  “The United States is unparalleled historically and ranks among the highest worldwide in its dependence on incarceration. Over five million people in total are under supervision by the criminal legal system. Nearly two million people, disproportionately Black, are living in prisons and jails instead of their communities. Compare this to the figures of the early 1970s when this count was 360,000…The social, moral, and fiscal costs associated with the large-scale, decades-long investment in mass imprisonment cannot be justified by any evidence of its effectiveness. Misguided changes in sentencing law and policy –not crime– account for the majority of the increase in correctional supervision.”  The report includes the latest statistical reflection of mass incarceration.   https://www.sentencingproject.org/reports/mass-incarceration-trends/?emci=f77c2d5b-0a9c-ed11-994c-00224832eb73&emdi=4c3d69bf-bc9c-ed11-994c-00224832eb73&ceid=10203385  Related article: Vera Institute (US) – Jullian Harris-Calvin, Director, Greater Justice New York and Sam McCann Senior Writer –   New Yorkers Can’t Afford Another Year of Death in Our Jails  https://www.vera.org/news/new-yorkers-cant-afford-another-year-of-death-in-our-jails?emci=8a3945fa-3b9b-ed11-994c-00224832eb73&emdi=908cd5ad-219c-ed11-994c-00224832eb73&ceid=82378   (cf also the Related columns at the bottom of the landing page.)  Related article: The Marshall Project – Life Inside (US) – Douglas Ray Stankewitz as told to Richard Arlin Walker   California’s Longest Serving Death-Row Prisoner On Pain, Survival and Native Identity – As the Monache and Cherokee 63-year-old awaits a new hearing for a 1978 murder he denies committing, Douglas Ray Stankewitz shares the cultural tools and memories he depends on to stay alive.  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2022/03/18/california-longest-serving-death-row-prisoner-on-pain-survival-and-native-identity?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&s=03

 Tweet from John Howard Society   ON The impact of solitary:  Excessive prisoner isolation is linked to violence + mental health problems: “fallback into using solitary confinement in difficult conditions … cannot be tolerated … it is time for the correctional service to rethink its approach to pandemics”  (CF   https://t.co/fGjUMAx5J6 – A now dated article Perfect Storm  from the Lawyer’s Daily by John L. Hill

Tweet from Justin Piché, PhD  On more needless prison building in NB  “You can’t make this shit up about the inflated provincial prisoner figures @premierbhiggs & his government have made up. NB needs a prison construction moratorium & review on how to spend millions to actually enhance community well-being and safety now.”  #BuildCommunitiesNotCages
https://twitter.com/JustinPicheh/status/1617677027615870976?t=JmwYdlRDMnFXw9HtwHxHHQ&s=03   (Cf string comments on changing the way to count the incarcerated:  CBC News – Karissa Donkin   Change in the way N.B. counts people in jail makes the correctional system seem more crowded – Province now counting people physically in jail and people serving sentences in the community  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-jail-capacity-numbers-1.6718096?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar

 Tweet from Justin Piche On the increase for Ottawa Police Budget:  “#OttCity. I’m not a mathematician, but if the #Ottawa police budget was $346.5M last year and they’re requesting “around $400M” this year, isn’t that a proposed 13.4% police budget increase not a 2.5% increase for 2023?

Tweet from Prison Health (UK)  On confidence in the police decreasing:  Sugden was speaking after it emerged that 9 PSNI officers had been sacked for misconduct related to sexual or domestic abuse.  There are also 74 cases, w 32 cops suspended on suspicion of sexual misconduct. https://t.co/NEuPL9iNp9  (BBC News – Matt Fox   Confidence in the police is decreasing as a result of officer misconduct cases, a former Stormont justice minister has said.  Claire Sugden was speaking after it emerged that nine PSNI officers had been sacked last year for misconduct related to sexual or domestic abuse.)  (PSNI is Police Services of Northern Ireland)

 Toronto Star – Steve McKinley
RCMP misses deadline for employees to complete mandatory anti-racism training – The 3-hour online course “Uniting against Racism” was introduced as part of the Vision 150 program brought in by Brenda Lucki when she took over.