What Next?

      May 5, 2015

 IIRP Policy Options – Anthony N. Doob and Cheryl M. Webster
The Harper revolution in criminal justice policy…and what comes next… Stephen Harper’s Conservative government broke with the consensus on crime and public policy. Can the next government find a new consensus?

Doob and Webster offer a view of the pursuit of justice prior to 2006 and after 2006, a forceful summary of the consensus approach to justice and its components, in contrast to the Harper government vision which defies every aspect of the consensus model.  This article is a must-read for anyone looking for intelligent commentary on the present needs of justice in Canada.  The article includes a series of recommendations and this assessment for the future:  “These areas are examples of what any government that is interested in creating a fair, efficient and effective criminal justice system might do. None is easy. Achieving a consensus will be a challenge. But in the past 50 years, we have accumulated substantial knowledge on the operation of the criminal justice system. A government motivated to make improvements could show leadership and, in cooperation with the provinces, move Canada’s criminal justice system in a direction of which most Canadians would approve.”   http://policyoptions.irpp.org/issues/is-it-the-best-of-times-or-the-worst/doob-webster/

American Trial Lawyers Association (US)
Extra Judicial Measures Pilot Project of Peacebuilders International (Canada) Chosen for 2015 Emil Gumpert Award 

Congratulations to founder and Executive Director Eva Marszewski of Peacebuilders Canada for this significant recognition.  Eva has been invited to address the association in Chicago at the 2015 AGM.  Her work has been focused on finding alternatives and support for those alternatives for youth in conflict with the law; the Peacebuilders program uses talking circles and restorative justice practices.   Eva is a director / member of the Smart Justice Network as well.  The lawyers’ association criteria lies the program’s “ability to duplicate, encourage and extend its services beyond the jurisdiction of its existing program in Toronto.”   http://www.pr.com/press-release/617877

IIRP Policy Options – Mary Campbell
Life and death after Carter – The Supreme Court’s assisted suicide decision was only the latest twist in the complex ways the law treats killing 

Campbell is the retired director general of corrections at Justice Canada.  She develops a historical perspective on the criminal code’s version of killing and then puts the recent Carter decision on assisted suicide within that line of development, insisting that under Canadian law, death and its consequences have never been a black and white issue.   After several pointed public policy implications from the Carter decision, Campbell asks:  “Carter resolves one issue. As medical science improves, it expands the shadowy area between life and death. Are we prepared to continue the post-Carter discussion?”  http://policyoptions.irpp.org/issues/is-it-the-best-of-times-or-the-worst/campbell/

Toronto Star – Nathan Gorham
How to stop police from lying – Important safeguards against dishonesty and corruption in Ontario’s justice system have been whittled away in recent years

Gorham notes four incidents in the past month alone where police lying in court has created credibility problems for the justice system.  He cites four safeguards to ensure the integrity of police testimony and raises an added concern when there is testimony from secret witnesses or agencies who call on judges to determine the truth of the testimony without an opportunity to cross exam.  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/05/04/how-to-stop-police-from-lying.html   Related article:  Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant Drug case dropped after judge finds York cops lied to search man’s car   http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2015/05/04/drug-case-dropped-after-judge-finds-york-cops-lied-to-search-mans-car.html    Related article: Toronto Star   Marco Chown Oved    Pot growing charges dropped after cop lied to get a warrant   http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/05/04/pot-growing-charges-dropped-after-cop-lied-to-get-a-warrant.html

IIRP Policy Options – Jon Penney
American lessons for bill C-51 – Despite extensive debate, there’s been little discussion of what American experience tells us about the wisdom of Bill C-51. That’s unfortunate, because what it tells us is troubling 

Penney’s article introduces Bruce Schneier, a “security guru” according to the Economist.  Penney says that the oversight of C-51 and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is set up to fail and offers three reasons from Schneier for why the power in C-51 and current government approach is calculated to allow abuse:  a maximalist operational philosophy, oversight without transparency, once accepted and practiced there will be further expansion.    http://policyoptions.irpp.org/issues/is-it-the-best-of-times-or-the-worst/penney/

CTV News
First responders call for more support as report flags 44 suicides in one year

First responders are saying that “the expectation is that they will “suck it up, move on to the next call, and don’t talk about it.”   Spokesperson Vince Savoia, from Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an agency collecting stats on the suicides: “Three’s still that shame of coming forward,” he said. “The unfortunate reality is that there are still some organizations in this great country of ours that still perpetuate that stigma.”  Savoia thinks there are likely more but fall below the radar that requires verification.  http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/first-responders-call-for-more-support-as-report-flags-44-suicides-in-one-year-1.2357473

Star Tribune (Colorado) – Emma Nelson
For inmates, a healing process through journaling 

Gabriel Ross has been teaching “Soul Journal” classes at the Shakopee prison, which houses about 650 female prisoners, for about four years.  “To them, it’s like an awakening,” said Sgt. James Church of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who works on restorative justice ­programs at the prison.”  Ross teaches the course to other women in church basements and uses similar techniques in classes for mothers, grandmothers, long-term offenders and other inmates.   As usual, funding remains an on-going problem.  http://www.startribune.com/local/south/302508441.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue