For the record…

    April 15, 2015

 Toronto Star
Four ways the Supreme Court has battled the Conservatives on crime

The failure of federal legislation to meet the test of the Charter of Rights continues.  Here, the STAR lists the rejections from the SCC on the tough-on-crime agenda:  Abolition of Early Parole Act; Truth in Sentencing Act; Mandatory minimums; Prostitution laws struck down.

 Toronto Star – Edward Keenan
Blair torches his legacy to defend carding 

The practice of carding continues in Toronto – stopping individuals without cause and entering info about the person and the stop into a police databank.  The Police Services Board wanted to end the practice but has been stubbornly resisted by retiring police chief Bill Blair – in Keenan’s opinion a blemish on his track record of opposition to racism.   Related article:  The Sentencing Project (US) Race and Justice News: Chicago Police Stops Outpace New York’s Stop and Frisk Peak – Amira Elghawaby
Who has the most to fear from C-51? Canadian Muslims. 

Canadian Muslims, says lawyer Faisal Kutty, are “too guilty to fly, but too innocent to charge.”  Justice Denis O’Connor adds:  “Given the tendency thus far of focusing national security investigations on members of the Arab and Muslim communities, the potential for infringement on the human rights of innocent Canadians within these groups is higher.”

 CBC News – Anthony Peter-Paul
Native elders and spirituality denied to inmates in jail

The Southeastern Regional Correctional Centre, one of the newest prisons in NB, housing about 180 inmates, is disputing a claim from Aboriginal inmates that twice a group of 15-20 inmates requested and were denied Aboriginal smudge ceremony.  The ceremony consists of mixing four sacred medicines — sage, cedar, sweet grass and tobacco that are then burned in a bowl. The smoke is rubbed on different parts of a person’s body to cleanse them of negative energy.  The inmates also requested to no avail an Aboriginal spiritual leader. – Elaine Della-Mattia
Unique program deliverable with funding

The Ontario provincial government is funding a joint effort by the district Social Services Administrative Board, the Mental Health Association and the city housing authority to provide ten apartment units for supportive housing for mental health patients.  The funding is for $2.6 million and is predicated on the notion that housing is a critical focus for coping with mental health issues.

 CBC News –
Manitoba kids in care stay in jail longer due to lack of foster spots: watchdog

Darlene MacDonald, Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate, says that children are kept in jail beyond need because there is no alternative available except for motel / hotel accommodation, already heavily under criticism for creating unsafe circumstances for children who are wards of the state.  Mental health and suicide are two problems identified with the Manitoba’s youth detention facility.

 UBC Research Excellence
Fighting the pull of Aboriginal gangs

UBC’s Dr. Alanaise Goodwill knows that Aboriginal gangs make up about 20% of the gang population of Canada, growing she says at an alarming rate,  and yet have not been subjected to any clarification by research.   She is offering two main reasons for the attractiveness of gang life for Aboriginal youth.  The first is violence derived from extreme poverty growing up, and the second is survival for the disproportionate number of Aboriginals in prison.

 QMI Agency – The
A third of teen boys attempt suicide after sex assault: Study

Psychologist Laura Anderson of the University of Buffalo looked 31,000 teens aged 14-18 from 2009 and 2011 in the Youth and Risk Behavior Survey.  33% of boys and 27% of girls who were sexually assaulted attempted suicide.  A large number in the study (20% of persons of colour) also refused to answer survey questions about suicide.

 American Civil Liberties Union (US)
Smart Justice, Fair Justice – Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

The ACLU has identified five steps necessary to halt and reverse the practice of mass incarceration:  End the war on drugs, make the sentence fit the crime, incentivize smart justice practices, eliminate unnecessary incarceration, invest in better systems.   Related article: Washington Post (US) – Rev. Richard Cizik     My son died in my arms from a heroin overdose. Here’s what the War on Drugs missed.

 The Daily Astorian (Seattle)
US judge: Immigration courts must consider non-cash bond 

A 15 year policy that required immigrants in detention to post a cash bond for release has been ordered to make allowance for poor people in detention who must stay behind bars because they cannot afford the bail required.  ACLU lawyers sued on behalf of Maria Sandra Rivera who spent five months in custody for a bond first set at $7500 and later reduced to $3500, neither of which she could pay.  U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ordered the release without bond, a possibility already established in federal law but ignored in practice.