Oct 1, 2023 – Time to change…

Oct 1, 2023 – Time to change…


St. Leonard Society of Canada Webinar:

Advocating for Least Restrictive Measures with Mary Campbell

Smart Justice has often pursued Mary Campbell, a giant resource for corrections, for the benefit of her wisdom derived from long experience around the criminal legal system.  The link offers about 30 minutes of direct input from Mary on the public discussion of the legal rights of the incarcerated and the obligations of the prison authorities.  Mary speaks about “the least restrictive measures” as both the law and good sense if rehabilitation is the focus.  She includes the notion of justice as vengeance and the long tension between incarceration and parole practices as a struggle between the contradictory goals of punishment or rehabilitation.  This talk is also a reminder of the history of reform efforts within the criminal legal system.  For advocates, veteran or rookie, this presentation (and the audience derived questions following) is insightful and fundamental to any justice reform.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGPgLlwJOqY  (The sponsoring St. Leonard’s Society has a newsletter called Community Connections; the September edition available. Sign up at St. Leonard’s Society of Canada info@stleonards.ca )


Prison Transparency Project (Carleton) – Jena Lynde-Smith

SSHRC Partnership Grant Funds Carleton University Research on Prison Transparency

“Prisons are among the least transparent public institutions in the world. This is particularly true in Canada, where only a handful of people have a legislative right to get inside to do research. This concerns both scholars and those worried about prisoner living conditions… Dawn Moore, a researcher in Carleton University’s Department of Law and Legal Studies, in partnership with a team of 17 researchers in three countries, has been awarded a $2.5 million Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to tackle this problem. Through the aptly-named Prison Transparency Project (PTP), the team is breaking down barriers in accessing prison information and protecting the human rights of those incarcerated.”   https://newsroom.carleton.ca/story/sshrc-partnership-research-prison-transparency/?fbclid=IwAR2IgsFKHiKiE1W_peU0cYbnCJw5CtPgoUnaSSXkV-l7vcg25Jz4GuCxxy4


University of California at San Francisco – Amend

Amend.us – Changing Prison Culture – is a program around prison reform seriously influenced by the Norway approach and the notion that prisons need a health model.  The link offers an initial 5 minute video describing the goals for both staff and incarcerated under this intentionally different approach:  “Amend at UCSF is a public health and human rights program that works in prisons to reduce their debilitating health effects on residents and staff, while also joining policy makers and community leaders to advance decarceration strategies and a better, new system of accountability and healing in the US. We focus on health-focused culture-change initiatives, staff training, public education, advocacy, and policy-oriented research.”  https://amend.us/


Inquest (US) – Thomas Dichter

Imprisoned but United – How the peaceful takeover of Walpole prison in 1973 holds lessons for abolitionists today.

When prison unrest is the subject, most think about the N.Y. state prison Attica in 1971.  Few have ever heard about the Walpole state prison in Massachusetts in 1973 when guards walked out on strike and the incarcerated formed a union and ran the prison for two months.  This fascinating bit of carceral history, now 50 years old, opens many of the current issues in the criminal legal system and its abolitionist perspective invites review of many long held views on prison.  https://inquest.org/imprisoned-but-united/


Yale Climate Connections – Samantha Harrington

Extreme heat can be a death sentence in Texas prisons – Advocates are calling for solutions, such as more air conditioning, worker protections, and prison abolition.

2023 has been the second hottest summer in history.  “The Texas Tribune found that at least 41 people died of either heart-related or unknown causes in Texas prisons in summer 2023, many of them in their 20s and 30s.   The Texas Department of Corrections says that no prisoner died of heat since 2012.  The lawsuits are multiplying.  Advocates say that the most at risk are people with added vulnerability such as diabetes or mental illness.  The link provides good medical information as well.  https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2023/09/extreme-heat-can-be-a-death-sentence-in-texas-prisons/?utm_source=Weekly+News+from+Yale+Climate+Connections&utm_campaign=f462d8f0fd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2023_09_28_07_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_-f462d8f0fd-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D


The Marshall Project (US) – Melissa Bickford as told to Maurice Chammah

The Criminal Justice Issue Nobody Talks About: Brain Injuries – I know firsthand what it’s like to navigate the criminal justice system with a brain injury caused by domestic violence. I also live with the fact that an injury like mine can turn a victim into a perpetrator.

While the effort to change incarceration to better definition through the lens of a public health model continues, the stark reality of conditions prompting the urgency are easily demonstrable.  This link identifies the problems attendant on brain injury while incarcerated but the Life Inside is replete with special problems detailing the personal struggle with numerous other maladies.  Bickford’s description of her uncontrolled behaviour adds to the urgency of getting screening and medical attention for this subset of incarcerated victims.  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2022/01/06/the-criminal-justice-issue-nobody-talks-about-brain-injuries?utm_source=TMP-Newsletter&utm_campaign=ef247990a7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2023_09_29_03_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e02cdad9d-ef247990a7-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D The Marshall Project:  Life Inside https://www.themarshallproject.org/tag/life-inside


A seed of hope for a troubling times:

“If ever a time should come, when the vain and aspiring shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
~ Samuel Adams