Treatment plan?

   May 1, 2014

 Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Seymour and Tom Spears
Ashley Smith prison death prompts Royal Ottawa pilot project for mentally ill offenders 

 According to Minister Blaney, and springing from the jury recommendations from the Ashley Smith inquest, the pilot program for one year has five pillars: timely assessment, effective management, sound intervention, ongoing training and robust governance and oversight.   The plan calls for two beds at the Brockville Mental Health Centre and claims access as well at  L’Institut Philippe Pinel in Montreal and East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The response seems somewhat silly, given the level of needs.  The government announcement seems to suggest there would be other responses forthcoming.  Related article:  Public Safety Canada Press Release – Government of Canada launches Mental Health Action Plan to treat complex mental illnesses among federal offenders

 A Commentary from John Howard Canada – Catherine Latimer
Federal Action Plan to Treat Complex Mental Illnesses among Federal Offenders

 This morning Minister Blaney announced a Mental Health Action Plan for federal prisoners which includes new partnerships with provincial facilities.  Some prisoners suffering from serious mental illness may now get more help in outside treatment facilities and that is a very good thing – but it cannot be the only thing.  Many important recommendations made by the Ashley Smith Coroner’s jury, like the limits on administrative segregation/isolation, have not yet been answered and a one-year “pilot project” initially providing only two beds for female prisoners does not address the scope of the problem.

 This is an action plan ostensibly to treat complex mental illnesses among federal offenders with the most complex mental health needs.  Complex mental health problems are experienced by both men and women and some of the facilities for the men have been described as “grossly inadequate”.  You will see from the “quick facts” contained in the government’s announcement that 13% of men and 29% of women identified as having mental health needs upon admission.  The 2013 Annual Report Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview produced by Public Safety Canada shows that 7,669 males and 425 females were admitted that year.  If my math is correct, that means that 997 men and 123 women identified as having mental health needs upon admission in that year or about 89% of federal offenders with self-identified mental health needs were males.  While I am pleased to see some movement to address the mental health needs of seriously ill female prisoners, surely correctional authorities have a duty to ensure that all seriously ill prisoners get the medical assistance they need.  

 The News Release makes it clear that this is “just one aspect of the ongoing response to the recommendations of the jury from the Coroner’s Inquest into the tragic death of Ashley Smith”.  Let’s contribute as we can to supporting a just, effective, and humane approach to all prisoners with mental illnesses.

 Globe and Mail – Canadian Press
RCMP said to identify more than 1,000 missing or dead native women 

 The RCMP have filed a report with Public Safety Canada that acknowledges after contact with over 200 police forces across Canada that the total on Aboriginal women murdered or missing is over 1000.  The Mounties are not denying the APTN claim nor the intended publishing date of March 31 for the report, but a spokesperson said the report still needs certain detail. – Canadian Press
Income gap growing among fastest in Canada

 An analysis from the OCED with its 34 member countries suggests that Canada with the US are among the worst in the world for widening the income gap.  In Canada, the top 1% take 12.2% of the income pie while capturing 37% of the overall income growth since 1981.  Canada ranks fourth in income disparity behind the US, Britain and Germany. 

 N.Y. Times – Eduardo Porter
In the U.S., Punishment Comes Before the Crimes 

 Porter outlines the history of mass incarceration in the US along with both the cultural and economic consequences of the policy.  Professor Bruce Western of Harvard thinks the civil rights movement  was influential for legitimizing mass incarceration:  “The anxieties white voters felt were not just about crime but about fundamental social changes going on in American society.”  

 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Vienna
2011 Global Study on Homicide: Trends, Contexts, Data 

 The 128 page pdf downloadable report has an executive summary starting on p. 9 and offers a global picture along with an organized crime section, a firearms and trafficking section, and a section on domestic homicide.  

 E-Journal of Public Affairs (US) – Michael Stout, Bradley Ficher, Chantal Lesvesque-Bristol
Social Media, Social Capital, and the Civic Participation of College Students 

 The media is filled with reports of university students reacting to political issues via social media, aka civic participation.  Here is an effort at summary analysis of how the social media works and what seems to be the consequences of usage.  Those that use the social media to monitor political issues and events tend to use it to bridge into news on line.