Prison violence…

Dec 12, 2016

Toronto Star – Michael Tutton
Sudden surge in prison violence ‘a problem right across’ Canada, experts warn

Experts are warning that there has been a noticeable surge in prison violence in prisons, both provincial and federal, right across the country.  The level of violence is up 13% last year alone and is illustrated by one incident from the Halifax Central Nova Scotia Correctional facility.  BC Attorney General spokeswoman Kate Trotter acknowledges the growing number of incidents and says: “It is a reflection of higher inmate counts, the criminal histories of those in custody, and the growing number of inmates with addiction and mental health issues.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Jesse McLean   Jail guard sexually harasses colleague, gets promotion

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Canada’s prison agency argues segregation doesn’t affect inmates’ health

Faced with a lawsuit over the unjustifiable use of solitary or “administrative segregation,” Corrections Canada is defending itself by denying any connection between the practice and personal health.  Matthew Hamm, Shawn Keepness and Taylor Tobin filed the lawsuit after a provincial judge ruled they were unfairly put in segregation.  CSC has in turned filed a statement of defense denying the harmful effects.

Toronto Star – David Dishneau
U.S. police expect Trump to lift restrictions on surplus military gear

Those concerned about the militarization of police forces may expect a renewal of efforts to equip local and state police in the US with surplus military equipment such as sophisticated and high powered weapons and armoured vehicles.  Under a ban by President Obama since 2015 after the Ferguson incident saw armoured vehicles facing crowds of protestors, Trump has promised a change and the various police agencies say they will hold him to the promise.

Toronto Star – David Sterns
Time to modernize our courts – A few simple technological changes would help modernize Ontario’s courts and strengthen the public’s faith in our justice system

While criticism rages about clogged courts and charges dismissed because of unreasonable delays, the lack of digital resources for the court system is noteworthy in the extreme.  “In an age of instant communication, where video conferencing is virtually free, and where group meetings can be scheduled at the touch of a button, Ontario’s courts remain stuck in a world of fax machines, towering heaps of paper, and personal attendances for even routine court requests.”

Globe and Mail – Karen Howlett
Canada mulls giving border guards broader powers to combat illicit fentanyl

The epidemic of opioid associated deaths in Canada has been the subject of a meeting in Ottawa where the Canada Border Services Agency is looking for broader powers to intercept postal ships of both fentanyl and another synthetic but more powerful opioid called carfentanil, already know and found in four provinces.  CBSA wants authority to look in packages that are letter-size and under 30 grams, which appears to be a way to get under the radar.

Toronto Star – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
Separate sentencing rules could tackle indigenous incarceration rate: study

With 3% of the population but 26% presence in the federal inmate population of the prison system, the feds appear to be looking again at a 2015 study by Julian Roberts, a criminology professor at the University of Oxford in England and a member of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales.  “Roberts cites additional problems with Canadian sentencing, including overreliance on custody relative to other western nations, variation in sentencing outcomes, limited guidance on the role and use of victim impact statements, lack of gender-specific considerations and increased tension between the legislature and judiciary as a result of recent mandatory sentencing provisions.”  Roberts wants a sentencing commission.

Department of Justice – Canada
Victims and Survivors of Crime in Restorative Justice Processes: Call for Proposals

RJ organizations, non-profit victim groups, First Nations, provincial and municipal government and agencies are eligible for $750,000 in 10 grants with the maximum individual grant at $75,000.  The deadline is December 30, 2016 and the funding can begin Feb. 1, 2017.  For details and application form: