Jan 18, 2024 – Police spending and crime…

Smart Justice Network 

Jan 18, 2024 – Police spending and crime…


Toronto Star – Emily Fagan

Police spending has ‘no consistent correlation’ with lower crime rates, new Canadian study says – “I think a lot of people simply assume that more money for the police will mean safer communities,” said co-author Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. “We’re demonstrating that that’s not the case.”

It is safe to say that police budgets have been growing across the country, some at alarming rates and at serious harm to other municipal services, sacrificed to pay for police expansion.  What is surprising is that the long-held notion or more money-less crime does not appear to stand up to scrutiny.  So says the University of Toronto Public Policy Journal.  The scholars looked at twenty municipalities and examine the crime severity rates from 2010-2019 and the policing budgets from 2010 – 2021.  “I think a lot of people simply assume that more money for the police will mean safer communities,” said co-author Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an associate professor in Sociology at the University of Toronto. “We’re demonstrating that that’s not the case.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/police-spending-has-no-consistent-correlation-with-lower-crime-rates-new-canadian-study-says/article_eedff7f4-b3b9-11ee-81a9-ffea73dd6f71.html   Full text / abstract (Report in French):  Police Funding and Crime Rates in 20 of Canada’s Largest Municipalities: A Longitudinal Study   (Full Text at: Police Funding and Crime Rates in 20 of Canada’s Largest Municipalities: A Longitudinal Study | Canadian Public Policy (utpjournals.press) (Subscription required).   


Edmonton Journal – Jeff Shantz

Opinion: Let’s stop the dangerous practice of arresting intoxicated people

Author Jeff Shantz teaches in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. His article was prompted by the death in custody of the Edmonton Police Services a 49-year-old arrested for public drunkenness.  Shantz reports that in 2022 there were at least eight deaths in custody across Canada and in 2023 there were at least four more.  The problem is that no one keeps the stat around the people who are arrested drunk and who die in custody.  Shantz wants an immediate end to the arrest for public drunkenness and wants a public health resolution.  “The situation surrounding these arrests is so dire that the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. recently called for an end to intoxication arrests while pushing for the province to move to non-police responses — appropriate healthcare supports — for people who are intoxicated and need care. IIO Director Ronald MacDonald stated, correctly, that “the care of intoxicated persons should not be a police responsibility. It is a health-care issue.”  https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-lets-stop-the-dangerous-practice-of-arresting-intoxicated-people


Homeless Hub – Alan Hanna

Systemic Barriers for First Nations People: Security of Tenure in Canada

This is an important conversation before assessing who is to blame for homelessness and how to fix the problem for First Nations.  “First Nations people’s experiences with housing vary based on a number of factors, from geographic and jurisdictional location within Canada to the severity of impact of colonialism on an individual’s home community. However, the existence of many common systemic barriers continues to limit the options First Nations people have to access safe, affordable housing, whether on or off First Nation reserves. In addition to explicitly identifying some of the key systemic barriers to security of tenure faced by First Nations people, this report attempts to offer a concise rendering of the history of the Crown’s relationship with First Nations in order to provide context for the problems and barriers which continue to the present.”  Systemic Barriers for First Nations People: Security of Tenure in Canada | The Homeless Hub


The Sentencing Project – Ashley Nellis

Massachusetts First State to Ban Life without Parole for People Under 21

The recognition is a significant development in US youth justice – by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts – that Life without Parole is an unconstitutional sentence for a person under twenty-one.  “ Last week, Massachusetts’s highest court ruled that its ban on life without parole sentences for youth under eighteen also applies to “emerging adults,” through age 20. The ruling stems from the case of Sheldon Mattis who participated in a crime at age 18 during which his 17-year-old co-defendant killed someone. The co-defendant’s youth qualified him for parole review after 15 years, but Mattis received a mandatory life without parole sentence because he was 18 years old.”  The ruling is a recognition that youthful brain development continues well after the chronological age of eighteen, the legal age, and the reality impacts on youthful decision making or intent.  (Sentencing Project Press Release)  https://www.sentencingproject.org/

Full Ruling:  f11693.pdf (mass.gov)  


Blogger Russell Webster (UK)

Food matters in prisons…

“Food does matter if we want to create a more secure, and rehabilitative environment in prisons.”  Prison food is frequently a factor in unrest and tensions in prisons.  The UK charity Food Matters has published a 42-page briefing (pdf):  “This paper explores the crucial role of food in shaping prisoners’ identities and relationships and its potential to have positive impacts in prisons, including fostering relationships; promoting education, exercise and meaningful activities; enhancing cultural understanding improving physical and mental health; enhancing safety; and reducing reoffending. Food Matters has concluded that food should move from being a functional aspect of prisons to become a focal point for various activities and improvements to prison regimes.” There is an executive summary and key findings from the project.  https://www.russellwebster.com/food-matters-in-prisons/  Full Report:  https://www.foodmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Food-Matters-in-Prisons-report-FINAL-January-24.pdf


American Civil Liberties Union (US) – Jay Fernandez

Jury Justice – A class-action lawsuit challenges the permanent exclusion of people with felony convictions from serving on juries.

There is a patch quilt of prohibitions on anyone with a felony record, some of which are truly worthy of additional punishment status, such as housing, jobs, welfare.  This action by the ACLU brings notice of yet another prohibition that seems to hover if not cross the line into human rights violation: a felon cannot be a juror.  “Jury service is a fundamental right. It holds law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges accountable in a criminal legal system that is inherently biased.”  Jury Justice | ACLU


Pagosa Daily Post (Colorado, US) – Emily Murphy

Charter School Students Mediate Conflicts, Build Community

Pagosa Peak Open School, a charter elementary school,  trains its students in restorative practices and then forms a panel to mediate disputes even among first graders.  “Restorative Practices adds a layer to PPOS’s discipline policy, allowing individuals to take responsibility for their actions and work toward repairing harmed relationships. This is the first step and allows students to identify solutions to problems with support, in place of being given an unrelated consequence around rule-breaking.”  How do student restorative Practice Board Members see the role of helping resolve conflicts? “It’s fun helping kids; and nice to know how to communicate and help others,” said eighth-grader Amelie, who is in her third year as a Restorative Practice Student Board member.”  Charter School Students Mediate Conflicts, Build Community – Pagosa Daily Post News Events & Video for Pagosa Springs Colorado