Corrosive justice

 May 9, 2013

  Toronto Star – Editorial (May 8, 2013)
Ontario judge blasts Harper government’s ‘tough on crime’ agenda: Editorial

Judge Melvyn Green’s article in the Criminal Lawyers Association Journal has prompted the Star to endorse the position Judge Green takes on the current malaise in the criminal justice system.  The Star quotes Judge Green’s conclusion: “A policy of punishment, incapacitation and stigmatization has replaced one premised on the prospect of rehabilitation, restoration and reform,”  Text of Judge Green’s article in pdf format:   

 Public Safety Canada
Harper Government Reinforces Support for Victims of Crime

With yet another private member’s bill, the Harper government seems to bite its nose to spite its face by introducing more changes while doing a consultation on victim’s rights.  This new bill, Bill C-479, changes, among other things, the interim between a rejected and a new parole hearing for those convicted of violent crime.  John Howard Society’s Catherine Latimer reflects:  “Society benefits by having graduated, supervised release of those who pose a risk.  With a one-shot every 5 year parole regime, many will reach statutory release or warrant expiry without the benefit of a graduated release plan.  – This will be expensive in terms of greater incarceration, in many cases unfair, inhumane and ineffective at promoting public safety.  If we really want to help victims and their families, let’s provide services for them and rehabilitate perpetrators to prevent further victimization.” Text of the bill: 

 The Heritage Foundation – Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D. and Andrew Robert James Southam
European Court Errs in Decision on Terrorist Suspect Extradition

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has made an interim ruling that Britain can not extradite to the U.S. a terrorist suspect who has been indicted in the US for running a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999.  The authors who are senior researchers on international law in Britain are of the opinion that the ruling, if further upheld, will damage the mutual extradition powers of the  US and Britain. 

 International Business Times – Eric Brown
Free Shotguns in 15 Cities, Courtesy Of the Armed Citizens Project

The Armed Citizen Project has been founded by University of Houston grad student Kyle Coplen with the intent of giving away shotguns to ordinary citizens in high crimes cities to fight the threat of victimization.  Background checks and training in the use of the weapons are required.  Lawyers are checking for the legalities around the project for different states. 

 Human Rights First
Elisa Massimino and Grover Norquist on Immigration Detention

Two well known reformers carry on a 26 minute video conversation about how criminal justice reform should be applied to immigration reform.  Massimino is the CEO of Human Rights First; Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, offers his comments from the perspective of needed tax reform. 

 Vancouver Sun – By William Marsden, Postmedia News
Drop in U.S. gun violence could threaten tighter controls

Murder by guns is down some 39% between 1993 and 2011.  Likewise non-fatal gun crime is down by a whopping 69%, despite the news reports.  Advocates for gun control fear that the stats, from the US Justice Department, will have the effect of reducing the pressure to update and improve gun law. 

 Pew Research
Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware

Pew identifies a massive drop in gun murders since 2000.  Pew offers an extensive commentary on the development and other news agencies have added their voices and their confusion about why Americans generally think such crime is rising steadily.  Here are some of those links.  The question around public perception has some implication for us in Canada as we grapple with the political acceptability of ‘tough-on-crime’ in spite of significant crime rate reductions.  

L.A. Times:,0,3022693.story 

NBC News: 

Edmonton Journal: 


 Lessons from Remand – Mark Stobbe   Foreword by Catherine Latimer, John Howard Society

 The book chronicles Stobbe’s encounter with the justice system in Manitoba while accused of murdering his wife and awaiting trial in a remand center.  The remand scene is one of the least known areas around criminal justice and some 55% of those in prison in Canada are in remand – no convictions have been established.  The book is available from Amazon for $22.