More jail?

    Feb 12, 2015

Law Times (Canada) – Matthew Gourlay
A Criminal Mind: Time for a constructive look at bail controversies

This article looks first at the legal rational sometimes used to refuse bail and then more specifically at the case of Shawn Rehn, the man who killed a RCMP constable while on bail in St. Albert, AB.  The case aroused a broad spread criticism of the system that would allow Rehn on the streets with such a colourful criminal history.  “It would be reductive and glib to lay all of the blame for an ordinary criminal’s wrongdoing at the feet of the system. But it does suggest that more jail is unlikely to be an effective prophylactic against the kind of tragedy that unfolded near Edmonton.”

 Vera Institute of Justice (US)
Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America 

Local US jails have been used after arrest for those dangerous to release or those deemed a flight risk.  The use of local jails takes on a new role when the people jailed are too poor to afford the bail set, resulting in poor people languishing in jail and disproportionate numbers of racial minorities in local prisons.  The 56 page report (downloadable pdf) addresses the research data available on this new perspective for local jails. Additionally there is a two page summary report and an infographic on the stats.

 Postmedia News – Douglas Quan
How restorative justice changed a grieving family’s opinion of a hit-and-run driver

The article highlights the use of victim-offender mediation as a way to help victims and offenders.  The Community Justice Initiatives in Langley, BC, was both an advocate for the mediation and the facilitator of a session for Coral Forslund whose sister was killed.   “For many offenders, the impact of meeting the families of those whose lives they took — seeing their pain and, in some cases, receiving their forgiveness — can be transformative, challenging them to focus on a new way of living,” said Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Community Justice Initiatives Association.

 Penal Reform International (PRI – UK) – John Podmore
Prison systems need to acknowledge widespread corruption   

This article is the ninth of a series of blogs by prominent experts on topics around penology.  Podmore suggests that we readily acknowledge correction in business, sports, politics and most walks of life, we are most reluctant to acknowledge it in the prison system.  He identifies corruption as misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance and calls for the first step in acknowledging the practices within the prison system.

 Defense for Children International
UN endorses Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

Consequent to the first international World Congress on Juvenile Justice, the UN has endorsed a call for a global study on children deprived of their liberty.  PRI and some 60 agencies, state sponsored and private, announced support for the proposal from the Defense of Children International, a study aiming “to encompass children involved in criminal justice systems, children in need of protection, children with physical or mental disabilities, children exposed to drug abuse, children detained with their parents, children in immigration detention, and those suspected of threats to national security.”

 European Committee for the Prevention of Torture – Annual Report
24th General Report of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Anticipating 25 years of operations, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), the AGM (an 88 page pdf) celebrates the activities and the conclusions of the committee, its visits to prisons, its interactions with governments and other bodies as well as a section of the Juvenile Justice study just endorsed by the UN.    Related article: Harvard Law Review:  The Psychology of Cruelty: Recognizing Grave Mental Harm in American Prisons

 Human Rights Watch
World Report 2015  

This report – a 660 page downloadable PDF – looks at the state of Human Rights in some 90 countries and highlights the presence of the ISIS forces and the human rights issues as well as the China’s crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang, and Mexico’s abuse-riddled war on drugs.    Related article: Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Keynote to the AGM – Tyranny’s False Comfort: Why Rights Aren’t Wrong in Tough Times