Youth in trouble…

    July 5, 2015

 Toronto Star – Sandro Contenta, Laurie Monsebraaten, Jim Rankin, Andrew Bailey
Shedding light on the troubles facing kids in group homes – Nearly 1,200 “serious occurrences” involving vulnerable youth — most living in Toronto group homes — were reported in 2013.

In 2013, there were 1200 incidents of serious incidents of youth disturbances while in group homes: being physically restrained, being charged by police, or running away.  The Star in depth report says that there are 3300 children in 484 group homes and that these homes, foster parents and children’s aid societies generate over 20,000 incidents per year without any real statistical capacity to know or even categorize these incidents – the Star has done its own data  analysis.   Related article: Toronto Star – Sandro Contenta and Jim Rankin   Toronto group homes turning outbursts from kids into matters for police

Toronto Star – Editorial (July 2, 2015)
Let judges ease the burden on the poor – Ontario should figure out a way to let judges do the right thing when they find that the poor and sick are being unnecessarily penalized by the justice system. 

Justice Peter Lauwers of the Ontario Court of Appeal has made obvious in a recent ruling that the legal system is biased against the poor and the vulnerable, the addicted and the mentally ill.  To remedy the problem, Lauwers went on record that his hands were tied without discretion to confront the injustice created by fines imposed long ago and impossible to pay, even though lives had changed for the better.  Said Lauwers “It is most unfortunate that there is no process in the system for commuting old and back-breaking fines for people who have little prospect of paying them, and whose lives are being ruined.”  How does a legal system put itself in such a position as to create acknowledged injustices?

CBC News – Dean Beeby
Canada without Poverty charity challenges Harper govt. audits at UN in Geneva – Ottawa anti-poverty charity in Geneva this week arguing before UN that political-activity audits are an abuse

A little small charity in Ottawa is taking on the proverbial Goliath by appearing before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva to complain that Canada Revenue has violated international human rights by its politically motivated audits of charities.  The UN will hear the complaints from Canada without Poverty, Kairos, and Amnesty International, likely on Monday or Tuesday and then later this coming week officials from the Canadian government will have a chance to respond.  In addition to the audit concerns the charities are raising issues around human rights abuses in Canada and the murdered and missing Aboriginal women as well as the residential schools.  Heather McLachlan, President of Canada without Poverty, and a 35 year social worker in Montreal says: “…the group does not press for new legislation, insisting only that Canada live up to its international commitments.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Mark Sarner   Let’s stop pretending we can’t end poverty – A guaranteed annual income would solve the problem of poverty while actually saving public money

Toronto Star – Alex Boutilier
Ottawa tightens prison visitor rules, citing drug crackdown – Guards’ justification for an intrusive search, such as a strip search, can be “subjective” under new rules, critics warn. 

In a notice quietly posted on a government web site the afternoon before Canada Day the regulations around visiting inmates in a federal prison have been tightened.  The rules used to require reasonable grounds to believe a visitor was carrying contraband into the system before a body search was permissible.  The new regulations lower the threshold for such searches of prisoners, contract workers and visitors, effectively the whim of the guard.  The regulations re-inforce the government’s approach to forbid and punish based on symptoms rather than to cure the root problem.  The new regulations will make family visits more intimidating and perhaps fewer.

Toronto Star – Rachel Mendleson
Ontario’s top court makes inmates eligible for early parole

Non-violent offenders convicted prior to the new parole regulations in 2011 should have their parole applications subject to the old regime, not the latest.  Accelerated Parole Review, first introduced in 1992, was eliminated and Justice Russell Juriansz on behalf of a panel of three judges who unanimously agreed found that ten women in Grand Valley were eligible for the accelerated parole.  The women were convicted of drug trafficking and fraud.  The judge ruled that the abolition of the Accelerated Parole Review in the case of first time offenders violated the Charter of Rights, a position also already taken by the Supreme Court of Canada.