Babies in prison…

Dec. 3, 2015

 Metro-Toronto – Sidney Cohen
Broken Bonds: How living with babies in jail changed inmates’ lives

What happens when a women is sentenced to prison and is at once pregnant?  Here is the first part of a series with the story of Jennifer Smith and the history of the correctional system coping with babies born while women are inmates.  A program once closed down by the BC Corrections at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, and then ordered re-instituted by the BC Supreme Court, is now so difficult to access that despite a plentiful number of potential candidates, no one is availing of the program.  Related article (Part II) Metro Toronto – Sidney Cohen   Broken Bonds: Why a jail’s nursery is empty after its last mom left

Toronto Star – Robert Benzie and Robert Cribb
Ontario clamps down on what police can reveal in background checks

There have been repeated incidents in which requests for criminal background checks have led to the disclosure by police of private medical records as well.  Now, the release of non-convictions, carding or mental health will be excluded from such police reports.  The new law defines three sorts of different criminal record checks.

Globe and Mail – Gloria Galloway
Canadians support reforms to voting system, poll suggests

Canadians, it would seem, are anxious to reform the electoral system according to a new poll of almost 3,000.    The article looks at the results of the most recent election had a ranked approach or proportional representation approach been in place.  Expectations are that the joint parliamentary committee will begin within the next 18 months to explore alternatives to first-past-the-post.

Ottawa Citizen – Kelly Egan
Judge fines pot grower $1 for 30 plants, mocks ‘ridiculous’ law

A courthouse in Gatineau was buzzing last week when Justice Pierre Chevalier imposed a fine of one loonie with 30 cents victim surcharge for a man charged and convicted of growing 30 marijuana plants.  The sentence was followed by musing from the judge about how to treat of the crime given the intent of the Trudeau government to legalize marijuana and remove all notion of community standards around the offence.

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Prison experts call on Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to restrict solitary confinement 

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had the recommendations from the inquest of Ashley Smith included in her mandate letter.  The suicide death of the teen followed repeated and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.  “We need immediate prohibitions for solitary confinement for youth and for those with mental health concerns because those folks are the ones most susceptible to having the most damage done to them by solitary confinement,” University of Ottawa Professor Justin Piché said on the heels of a panel at the university consisting of prison experts and advocates.

Toronto Star – Desmond Cole
It’s time to disarm the police 

Militarization of police in the US has been a pre-occupation with rights and social activists in the light of so many police killings and the sight of heavily armed police activity supported with surplus military gear.  Cole presents some of evidence for a concern in Canada around the use of lethal force, at times disproportionate to the “threat,” presenting 9 such incidents since October of 2013 in Toronto alone, including the current Sammy Yatim case.

Globe and Mail – Pierre Chauvin
Let hate go, says mother of Montreal Massacre shooter Marc Lepine

The 78 year old Monique Lepine, mother of Marc Lepine who killed 14 women in Montreal 26 years ago and is a poster boy for violence against women thinks we all need to let hate go.  She made her remarks to a conference at 12 Days to End Violence against Women Campaign in Whitehorse.  Seven years after the massacre, her 29-year-old daughter killed herself in a drug overdose, she said, noting her daughter suffered guilt about not having the chance to reconcile with her brother.  “I felt like I was dying of pain and sadness,” she said, recalling the event.

Globe and Mail – Joan Bryden
Ottawa to create non-partisan advisory body for Senate nominees

As the new parliament gathers for the first time, politicians, elected and appointed, are wondering what happens now that the Liberal Party has disavowed partisanship in the senate.  Senator George Fury, formerly Liberal, is the new appointed leader and the Trudeau government is about to appoint a five member advisory council on nominations, which still need to be appointed by the Prime Minister.   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Canadian Press    Trudeau government creates Senate-appointment advisory board, will fill five spots in early 2016