Aboriginal justice…

    Aug. 16, 2015

The Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy – David Daubney
Truth, Reconciliation and Prisons

Citing a long standing over-representation of Aboriginals in Canada’s prisons, Daubney recalls the development of criminal justice policy from 1984 to today and the current steady deterioration of the recommendations from the 1988 report Taking Responsibility.  Those recommendations are now re-visiting Canadians in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.  For both the Aboriginal adult and child and for both male and female, with even greater concern for the females, the disproportionality continues.  Referring to the TRC Interim Report, Daubney says: “Some of the Calls to Action are daunting in their complexity, others capable of quick acceptance by reasonable Canadians. The key requirement for whichever party forms the next Federal Government is to act with genuine concern and a sense of urgency to address the serious gaps in health and education outcomes identified in the Interim Report.”   http://www.thepearsoncentre.ca/platform/some-thoughts-on-the-truth-and-reconciliation-report-from-an-observer-long-concerned-with-the-overrepresentation-of-aboriginal-canadians-in-canadas-prisons-and-penitentiaries/

Info.news.com (Penticton, BC) – Steve Arstad
Penticton native centre provides cultural grounding

40 years ago the En’owkin Centre began trying to link Aboriginal people with their cultural heritage.  At the time, the program could not be implemented in the public school system so they began to train teachers.  Now with a broad spectrum of secondary services and program, the centre even boasts an Aboriginal publishing centre and a flourishing RJ program.   http://infotel.ca/newsitem/penticton-native-centre-provides-cultural-grounding/it22043

Counterpunch (US) – Eric Mann 
Los Angeles Unified School District Debates Whether to Shoot Its Own Students–With Department of Defense Weapons

The Los Angeles Unified School District is under attack by some of the Black and Latino students who think it is time for the district to give back to the defence department the heavy weapons its police possess:  Surplus M-16 carbines and tanks.  Worse still, no one is answering for the decisions around the weapons.  http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/14/los-angeles-unified-school-district-debates-whether-to-shoot-its-own-students-with-department-of-defense-weapons/

Toronto Star – Kevin Donovan
Senate investigators haven’t talked to woman about complaint against Sen. Don Meredith

Senator Don Meredith is under investigation for alleged sexual relations with a minor and for sexual harassment in the workplace.  At least he is supposed to be but Senate Ethics officer Lise Ricard after two months has yet failed to interview the underage sex partner who has offered to give a statement.  Fire from the Conservative caucus by Prime Minister Harper who appointed Meredith, Meredith is not answering queries from the press, nor is anyone connected with the Senate except Senator Vern White, former chief of police in Ottawa who says:  “In my experience, in criminal investigations, the direct contact and statement taking is essential for the trust of the victim as well as the investigation itself.”  http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/08/15/senate-investigators-havent-talked-to-woman-about-complaint-against-sen-don-meredith.html

Houston Chronicle (Texas) – Timothy Williams, N.Y. Times
Locked in solitary at Age 14: The risks of juvenile isolation Juveniles ‘more vulnerable to abuse,’ but such isolation can be damaging

The Hattiesburg, Miss., authorities arrested Ke’jorium McKnight almost two years ago and wanted to charge him as an adult for armed robbery.  Now 16, the state requires him to be in an adult jail if he is to be tried as an adult, and federal law requires that he, as a minor, be keep separate from the other inmates.  So, McKnight spends more than 23 hours per day in solitary confinement.  Calling the practice barbaric, in 2012, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry called for an end to the practice. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/nation-world/nation/article/Locked-in-solitary-at-Age-14-The-risks-of-6446601.php

The Day (Connecticut) – Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press
Death penalty ruling may pave way for national abolitionists

Abolitionists of the death penalty in the US are hailing a State Supreme Court decision that they think may be a blueprint for the national scene.  The decision comes after the state legislature abolished the death penalty, the 18th state to do so, and then ruled that given that decision – that the death penalty no longer meets society’s evolving standards of decency – those remaining 11 inmates on death row could not be executive for convictions prior to the abolition.  “Connecticut’s abolishment is different because it comes in the form of a court ruling, one that found the 2012 state law that banned executions for future crimes did not go far enough, experts said. The court found the death penalty “no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.”  31 states still have the death penalty though only a few have used it recently; the US is experiencing a 40 year low in executions.  Maryland and New Mexico have already passed a similar law abolishing the death penalty for future crimes. http://www.theday.com/state-news/20150814/death-penalty-ruling-may-pave-way-for-national-abolitionists   Related article: TakePart (US) – Rebecca McCray   An Uncertain Fate for Death Row Inmates in States Abolishing Capital Punishment  http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/08/15/states-abolishing-death-sentence

The Nugget (North Bay, ON) – Gord Young
Province to rewrite Police Services Act

The Ontario provincial government has announced a public consultation in an effort to revise and re-write the Ontario Police Act.  The act governs the conduct of police and was last revised in 1990.  Two items known to be of prior interest is the suspension of a police officer without pay and the way police interact with vulnerable sections of the public.  Use of technology and the mandatory training of police service board members are also on the agenda.  http://www.nugget.ca/2015/08/14/province-to-rewrite-police-services-act

Shoreline Beacon.com (Ottawa) – Craig and Marc Kielburger
Restorative justice — using compassion to get tough on crime

The article is an interesting take by two young and well known Canadians on the potential of restorative justice to respond to much of the criminal activity in Canada.  The article, citing a case of two teens who robbed a hardware store, defines RJ according to several prominent organizations and speaks about the personal and cost effectiveness of the RJ approach vs the cost of the traditional police / court response to crime.   http://www.shorelinebeacon.com/2015/08/14/restorative-justice–using-compassion-to-get-tough-on-crime