Confronting the face of fear…

    Dec 23, 2015

(Ed note:  See you again after Christmas.)
Citizens for Public Justice Catalyst – Dena Nicolai
Groundings: An Advent Call to Listen in the Face of Fear

Nicolai says that listening is not just a passive activity but one that calls forth our willingness to welcome the stranger in the Syrian Refugee and one that calls on us to confront our fear that we cannot both welcome the refugee and at once protect our own welfare and security.

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Federal prison agency amends solitary confinement policy

There are twelve policy changes for the use of solitary confinement initiated by Corrections Canada a week before the last federal election and springing from the recommendations from the Ashley Smith inquest.  The changes include an advocate for mentally ill inmates confined to solitary and a questionnaire but critics say there is not much that addresses the specific ills identified by the coroner’s jury in the Smith case or in the case of Edward Snowshoe who also died while in solitary.   Related article: The Walrus – Rhiannon Russell   In the Hole.  Is Solitary Confinement  a Justified Punishment or a Human Rights Violation for Yukon’s Most Notorious Inmate?   Related article: Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich   Looking for Ashley  (A new book launch on the lessons from the Ashley Smith inquest sponsored by the Church Council on Justice and Corrections:  Thursday January 28th, 2016  7PM – 9 PM Lago Restaurant  1001 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Ottawa)

National Newswatch – Laura Kane, Canadian Press
Canadians with marijuana convictions call on Trudeau to offer pardons

Long known to account for a large percentage of convictions for drug charges, marijuana convictions were known as low hanging fruit that led to easy convictions aided by mandatory sentencing.  Now, some of those caught under the harsh practices and living with criminal records for what is about to become legal want pardons, not the federal conservatives “record suspension.”   Related article:  Toronto Star – Ben Spurr  More young adults in Ontario would smoke pot if feds legalized drug: Poll   Related article:  Toronto Star – Christopher Reynolds   Experts stress ‘Goldilocks point’ for pot taxes: Not too low or high, but just right  Related article:  Toronto Star – Christopher Reynolds   1920s Prohibition holds lesson for legalized pot sales

Globe and Mail – Gloria Galloway
Liberals agree to revoke spanking law in response to TRC call

Section 43 of the Criminal Code permits parents to spank their children.  Number 6 (of 94) on the list of recs, the TRC report called spanking or corporal punishment “a relic of a discredited past and has no place in Canadian schools or homes.”  The reaction of those supporting the traditional ‘spare the rod’ view is not clear at this point.

Penal Reform International (PRI) –
UN gives major boost to prison conditions with adoption of Nelson Mandela Rules

The United Nations, after a four year process, has adopted what has come to be known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, a set of minimum rules governing how prisoners are treated worldwide.   The rules, first established in 1955, are updated to set new guidance over eight standards of prison operation.  The differences are explained in a short PRI video at:   The UN document (a 36 pages downloadable pdf) may be found at:    PRI also offers a marked version of the Mandela Rules showing the specific changes

Prison –  Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon
States of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context

The US has just 5% of the world’s population but as in the case of the mass incarceration of men, the US also leads the world in its practice of jailing women, accounting for nearly 30% of the world’s female inmates.  The US rate is 127 per 100,000 of population while Canada is at 11 and many Scandinavian countries at single digit.