More tough-on-crime?

  Sept. 26, 2013

 Huffington Post – Alison Jones, Canadian Press
Harper: Child Sex Crimes to Draw Tougher Penalties 

 In the case of child sex offenders, and multiple charges and victims, the Harper government wants consecutive rather than concurrent sentences.  The proposal will apparently increase minimum and maximum sentences for individual offences.  There is at the bottom of the link a series of 17 slides offering a survey on what critics fear will come from further federal ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation. 

Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Seymour
Gay ex-jail guard says $98,000 award inadequate after years of harassment

 Bob Ranger faults both the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services and his own union for their failure to stop the harassment  that he received.  Awarded $98,000, several years of back pay and a new job, Ranger says that the historic track record of both for tolerance of harassment requires more for damages. 

 Globe and Mail – Andre Picard
Balancing act: The freedom to be sick, and the right to be well 

The Ontario Supreme Court has accepted that provisions of the Mental Health Act permit committing persons with severe mental illness to psychiatric institutions for treatment and that mental health care allows administration of drugs against the will of the patient.  Picard includes a history of the community treatment orders used to legalize the custody and treatment.    Related article (US):  Time – Alexandra Sifferlin Will Taking Guns from the Mentally Ill Prevent More Violent Crime?   

 Scarborough Mirror – Mike Adler
Program to keep young people away from gangs announced in Dorset Park – Local MP Roxanne James named parliamentary secretary for public safety

 The federal government announced the appointment of the local MP as parliamentary secretary for public safety while also announcing a $3.4 million grant over five years for gang prevention activity.  James has already sponsored a successful private member’s bill to change the Correctional and Conditional Release Act and to prevent frivolous complaints from inmates.  

 San Francisco Examiner – Chris Roberts
Feds give San Francisco $1 million to treat crime as ‘mental health’ issue 

 Nearly 25% of the youths booked for crime in San Francisco come from one postal zip code.  What to do when punishment fails and fails badly, making the area the city’s “most distressed and violent?”  Why, you treat crime as a mental health issue and turn to therapy!  Here is the start of a new approach to youth crime:  it’s a health issue.  Related article: San Francisco Examiner – Editorial    City is right to target mental health issues to curb crime 

 Atlantic Cities – John Roman
The Puzzling Relationship Between Crime and the Economy 

 Criminologists suggest that hard times mean more crime.  People steal what they can’t afford.  Economists say that better economic times increase crime.  There is more availability of things to steal.  The data seems to support both, suggesting that there is no real relationship between crime and the economy.  

 Canadian Families and Corrections Network
Jeffery goes to jail 

 Written by Marg Holland and illustrated by Stuart Cox, the book tries to provide insights and guidelines into the experience of children visiting with incarcerated parents.  The link provides other materials and research information as well. 

 Guardian (UK) – Andrew Bloss
Rival gang members to meet at mediation sessions to stop violence in Croydon

 Police and municipal officials want the rival gangs to talk out the immediate causes for conflict.  Additionally, police will intervene and warn parents and siblings when there is indication of possible gang affiliation.  Police Supt Messinger said: “We are trying to foresee risks such as a rivalry developing and we are trying to get things in place to stop it from growing.”   Related series:  London Evening Standard – David Cohen   Frontline London, Day 1: The Gangs of London   Day 2: Fighting the gangs

 Center for Media and Democracy – Brendan Fischer 
Violence, Abuse, and Death at For-Profit Prisons: A GEO Group Rap Sheet 

 Are private prisons profitable?  GEO certainly is – it paid its CEO $22 million over four years – all from tax payer outsourced services from the government.  The profits appear to come from squeezed costs so that assaults on guards are 45% higher, assaults inmates on inmates are 65% higher, employee turnover is higher and poor training follows.  Then, there are high incidents of prisoner abuse and sexual assaults.