Along came terror…

     Feb 25, 2015

 Globe and Mail – Jeffrey Simpson
Then along came terror  

Simpson puts on record the series of events that have justified a jihadist perspective as the background for the current C-51, the anti-terrorist bill and the partisan approach of the federal Conservatives to the type of response.  Says Simpson:  “Terror at home. Terror abroad. Tough on crime. Tough on terror. Fear stalking the land. Threats. Bad guys. It’s a dangerous world out there, folks, and only the Conservatives can protect us. The other parties? Soft on terror. Weak-kneed. They are listening to “elites” nattering about personal privacy at a time of menace. Only we can keep the country safe. For this government, the narrative is heaven-sent.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – Stephen Chase Conservatives move to restrict study of anti-terror bill   Ottawa Citizen: Alex Neve, (Amnesty International)   In terrorism bills, the Canadian government goes shopping for laws    Related article: Toronto Star – Alex Boutilier   Conservatives want to limit testimony in study of terror bill  Related article: Toronto Star – Errol Mendes (Florida) – Editorial (Feb. 25, 2015)
Smart justice 

The editorial comments on a recently published report around Smart Justice as an alternative to the current justice system.  The report, entitled The True Cost of Justice in Marion County, finds the current practices too expensive in both financial terms and in human terms.  The report, covering Marion County only, suggests that Smart Justice could save $10 million per year.  The report suggests likewise that the social cost of locking up people is likewise excessive and in need of immediate solution.  The report writers included police and judicial representatives.   Related article: Winnipeg Free Press – Dan Lett    Li case exposes ugly truth about Tories – Would rather punish the mentally ill than provide help and support

 Blogger Marion Lane
Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) #1: Judicial Restraint at its Best

Lane is a retired criminal court judge who blogs from BC.  When the Supreme Court of Canada made its pronouncement regarding assisted suicide, many in politics and media voiced the notion that here again in this decision the Supreme Court is making law, a process properly belonging to the Parliament of Canada.  Lane argues vociferously that the opposite is true: the decision is a model of restraint by addressing specifically and exclusively the issues brought before the court in appeal.  “In my view, faced with the unenviable job of dealing with a matter known to be highly contentious, they had the courage to make the decision required by law and, out of deference to Parliament, the wisdom to make it as narrow as possible.”  Lane has started a three blog post to unpack legally the SCC decision.

 The Sentencing Project (US)

The agency has two new reports.  The first is called THE STATE OF SENTENCING 2014 – DEVELOPMENTS IN POLICY AND PRACTICE.  It is an 18 page downloadable pdf that documents changes in the sentencing practices in some 30 states.

The second report is called STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVOCACY IN A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENT.  This report is a 9 page downloadable pdf that documents successful advocacy strategies focused on developments in Indiana, Missouri, and Texas where there have been significant justice changes.

 The Nation (US) – Zoë Carpenter
A 2-Day Revolt at a Texas Private Prison Reveals Everything That’s Wrong with Criminalizing Immigration 

The two day riot has made Willacy County Correctional Center, a privately run prison and immigration holding center, uninhabitable, forcing the transfer of 2800 inmates to other facilities.  This third disturbance since 2013 has brought to light allegations that the center was uninhabitable from the beginning.  ACLU senior staff attorney Carl Takei said:  “The facility is a physical example of everything that’s wrong with the criminalization of immigration, and the relationship of the private prison industry to both ICE and the Bureau of Prisons.”

 VICE Media – Desmond Cole
Canada Is Spending Millions Keeping Immigration Detainees in Jail 

A Family Day protest outside the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, is drawing attention to some of realities facing those immigrants in detention in Canada.  Since 2013, only 15% of immigrants detained – they are detained in prisons – have been released.  There is no requirement for any limit to the amount of time the immigrant can be held in prison.  International best practices maintains that 90 days is the maximum to hold people not convicted of any crime.  The detention costs Canada $54 million per year.   Related article: Toronto Star – Editorial (Feb. 25, 2015)   Ottawa’s perverse crackdown on refugees

 National Newswatch – Murray Brewster, Canadian Press
Mentally ill soldiers with Afghan-related experience more often declared unfit

Recent long term studies by the National Defence suggests that many of the soldiers suffering from mental illness consequent to service in Afghanistan were highly likely to be declared unfit for military duty and mustered out of the service in short order, creating a fear of disclosure among the career soldiers.  The numbers in themselves are scary.  After ten years, almost 70% are released.