Bigger jails no cure…

May 5, 2017 –

 Ottawa Sun – Irene Matthias, Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)
MATHIAS: Bigger jail no cure-all

Matthias is reflecting on her oft repeated message that caging people is no answer. MOMS is an Ottawa group of mothers whose sons are in jail, many with mental health issues.  While the MOMS group is appreciative of the report from Howard Sapers, they are equally concerned that the instinctive reaction to build more and bigger jails is misguided in the absence of so many purely human community re-integration and mental health responses needed in the jails.  “MOMS Ottawa also feels very strongly that there should be a priority put on spending tax dollars on crime prevention, restorative justice and programs that address issues in our communities which result in our young people ending up in jail. Building bigger cages is not the answer.”

Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Segregation in Ontario: Independent Review of Ontario Corrections – March 2017

Howard Sapers is the Independent Advisor and author and provides the preface to this document examining the practice and frequency of the segregation in Ontario’s jails.  Segregation means up to 22 hours a day confined to a 6ft by 11ft cell and last year over 1300 men and women spent 60 or more aggregated days in such a cell.  The report is extensive and comprehensive, and should end any need for additional reports.  The report should lead to action on the on-going problems around segregation and particularly as a response to mental health.  Section VII deals with key findings and recommendations.   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Joanne Laucius   Hard time? If you’re going to end up behind bars, you might want to do it at these prisons   Related article:  Ottawa Citizen: David Reevely   Ontario jails’ love of solitary confinement shows what a disaster they are

N.Y. Times (US) – Manny Fernandez
A Path to America, Marked by More and More Bodies

This link is not for the squeamish.  It documents the number of refugees and immigrants who died trying to cross the southern US border.  Authorities for Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico estimate that literally 100’s have died; since 2000, the Border Patrol documented 6,023 deaths in these states.

World Economic Forum – Kate Raworth, Oxford University
Meet the doughnut: the new economic model that could help end inequality

Frustrated with traditional economics for profit in the struggle for fairer distribution of this world’s goods?  Stuck but unhappy with Basic income guarantee?  Enter Kate Raworth and the donut, an understanding of economics that lends itself to supporting social justice causes of all sorts, including environmental aspirations.  Says Raworth:  “Don’t wait for growth to be distributive because it won’t.  Be distributive by design.”

CBC News – Dean Beeby
Political activity audits of charities suspended by Liberals – Panel report says charities should be free to engage in politics, minister suspends infamous audit program

Charites may be able to breathe a sigh of relief soon from the tension and pre-occupation they face daily in how to speak “truth to power,” given that they are mostly on the front lines of servicing the consequences of bad laws and injustice but feeling powerless to address the causes.  The five year “advocacy chill” was aimed at preventing charities from becoming players in the politics of poverty, environmentalism and other hot topics.  Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (May 4, 2017) Time to rein in security overreach

 CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Canadian passport will have new marker for transgender travellers, justice minister says – Jody Wilson-Raybould says there’s much work to do to implement transgender rights bill

The traditional male / female designation for passport identification is due for a change says Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Minister of Justice.  Government, which has begun an examination of the implications for gender under Human Rights legislation, wants an alternative to allow further choice for the LGBT community in keeping with Bill C-16.  C-16  “would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression and extending hate speech laws to include the two terms.”  The changes would impact all sorts of current legislation in areas like the use of pronouns.   No one is quite sure how best to achieve the goal for passports, given that in some countries LGBTQ admissions are subject to arrest, imprisonment and in some cases death sentences.   Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung   Refugee board creates guidelines for deciding LGBTQ claims   Related article: Toronto Star – Tonda MacCharles   Parents of transgender youth join push to outlaw discrimination