One mattress…

     May 27, 2015

CBC News
Edmonton inmate stomped to death owed $287 LRT fine – Video of eight-minute attack entered as evidence Monday at fatality inquiry

Rather than pay his fine, Barry Stewart choose to spend three days in the Edmonton Remand Centre where he was housed with another inmate who was known to have serious mental illness.  Cell mate Justin Sommers stomped Stewart to death in the early hours of the morning.  “There were two inmates in tank 10 on morning of May 12, 2011, but there was only one mattress,” said Robert Andraidt, deputy director with the Solicitor General’s department. – The Current – Anne Marie Tremonti
Prison watchdog Howard Sapers troubled by Canadian corrections

A 22 minute audio interview with Howard Sapers, who after 11 years and without reasons has been told by government that he is to be replaced. What circumstances is he leaving behind?  Worrisome.  Related article: Toronto Star – Breese Davies    Stephen Harper defangs another watchdog – By reappointing prison ombudsman Howard Sapers to just a one-year-term, the prime minister has once again struck a blow to accountability.

Huffington Post (US) – Ginger Lerner-Wren
The Criminalization of People with Mental Illness in America: A Matter of Human Rights 

Human Rights Watch has shocked the mental health community in the US who, while celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month, were confronted with a report detailing the most reprehensible treatment of prisoners.  The author of the report is none other than the judge who established the first mental health court in the US.  Called “Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates With Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons,” the report charges that everywhere US prisons have used “unnecessary, excessive and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities.”  The report urges the establishment of a human rights model with mental health courts and that the US adopt the UN Convention on Rights of the Person with Disabilities.   Full Report: Human Rights Watch – Jamie Fellner  Callous and Cruel (133 page downloadable pdf)   Related report: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  Related article:  The Chronicle of Social Change – Wendy Smith  Holding on to Humanity – A social Worker visits Pelican Bay’s SHU   Related article: Providence Journal –  G. Wayne Miller   Mental Health in Rhode Island: Treatment of inmates under fire – Study shows major problems in treatment of mentally ill in prison

A Great Injustice: Exploring American Incarceration

The installation and article debuted at Autodesk’s Artist in Residence show at Pier 9, San Francisco, on May 20th and 21st. All pictures here are from that exhibit.  The link is to an exhibit that brings together graphics and copy depicting the state of mass incarceration in the US.   Related article: NY Times Magazine (March 2015) –  Prison Planet   

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange – Levi Sharpe
Brooklyn Youth Justice in the Hands of Teens 

Red Hook, N.Y., is a tough neighbourhood, and this R.J. youth court is in the largest public housing unit in Brooklyn.  The teens can become members once they complete a 30-hour training session. Each member is paid a monthly stipend of $60 to $90.  Once experienced the teen can become a senior member of the Youth Court who decide, with other members, the sanctions applied.  The respondents are referred from police and family courts and later sometimes themselves apply to participate.

Globe and Mail – Canadian Press
Calgary Mayor Nenshi favours Lethbridge councillor’s move to lower municipal voting age to 16

A city councillor from Lethbridge, AB, Jeff Coffman wants to reduce the voting age for municipal elections to 16 and at least one prominent politician is supporting the notion at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association annual conference.  The youth vote has long been problematic and difficult to encourage.

In our (UK)  – Jane Miller
Detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure – The UK keeps migrants in detention centres for unspecified periods of time 

Miller reviews the practice in the UK of holding immigration detainees indefinitely.  The UK is the only member of the European Union that has no limit on the length of time.   Effectively, it is prison without conviction.  Many detainees are gay or lesbian and escaping sexual discrimination but equally distressing the Home Office seems to reward employees who can maintain a high rejection rate for asylum applications.