More jails or more community…

Sept 25, 2017

Blogger Justin Piché – University of Ottawa and co-founder of the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP)
Carceral expansion and organizations that serve the criminalized

Justin Piché has noted a fair amount of prison construction and equally a disturbing commitment to the use of prisons, both supported by the expectation that, as they say in baseball, “if you build them, they will come.”  Piché prefers instead that people and organizations offering community supports come to together to persuade the feds and provincial authorities that community working together allows us to call for a moratorium on building new prisons.   (Ed note: This blog occurs as a guest on the new John Howard Blog…   ) Related article: Toronto Star – Reuel S. Amdur   What comes next when Seaton House closes?

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Ontario Superior Court warns federal government it ‘desperately’ needs more judges

The Superior Court of Justice in Ontario handles both criminal and civil cases and claims that the number of cases is increasing but the number of judges is inadequate to handle the increase.  The Court is looking for 12 more judges and federal Minister Wilson-Raybould is considering.   The problem stems in part from the SCC decision last year in the Jordan ruling, placing strict limits on delays.

Global News
Smoked pot? Canadians should ‘be honest and tell the truth’ at U.S. border

There are some US states that have already legalized marijuana though the federal government has not and its policies frequently lead to more severity in penalty for “low-hanging” fruit.  Nonetheless, Mark Holland, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety is advocating that Canadians crossing the border into the US should tell the truth about previous use of marijuana, even for medical purposes.  Perhaps the advice is somewhat naïve, given that Canada’s privacy commissioner has already warned about US custom agents intruding into cell phones and computers.    Related article: Toronto Star – Alan Woods   Marijuana debate leaves First Nations weighing pros and cons

Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung
Cap on refugee sponsorships means Syrians in Canada remain separated from family members

It’s known as ‘the echo effect’ but its name does not make it any easier to endure.  Shadi Alkhalifeh, his wife and three children are in much personal crisis in spite of their acknowledged good fortune to be here in Canada because their arrival meant leaving loved ones in the same circumstances they themselves escaped.  The priority of family comes up against the number that private sponsorship can handle but the exercise of private sponsorship has been much encumbered with delays and frustrated sponsors.    Related article: Toronto Star – Vjosa Isai    From refugee to university degree: How a Canadian program is giving refugee students a way out

CBC News – Erica Johnson
Caught on camera: prison guard sexually assaulted by colleague says Corrections Canada ‘did not protect me’ – Crown says sexual assault charges ‘not in the public interest’

Tracy Mercier thinks she is confronting an ‘old boys’ network in the light of her treatment following an acknowledged sexual assault by a fellow guard at Mountain Institution in Agissiz, BC.  She is now without a job and without income, after the April 2016 assault which was caught on video within the institution.  It is puzzling how a sexual assault prosecution is not in the public interest.  The link includes a statistical breakdown for sexual assaults in Correctional Services Canada, where, Mercier and others say, there is a culture of harassment.   Related article: CBC News – Habiba Nosheen   Trial begins in the murder of inmate at troubled Ontario jail – Adam Kargus was 29 when he was killed in 2013

NationTalk / Canadian Press
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations releases report on suicide numbers

A discussion paper released by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations on Friday past offers some grim numbers in both statistical and actual suicides among First Nations people, says researcher / therapist Dr. Kim McKay-McNabb.   Over 500 suicides in Saskatchewan since 2005, over half under the age of 30,  Equally alarming,  “the numbers released Friday also indicated First Nations girls aged 10 to 19 faced a suicide rate 26 times higher than non-First Nations girls in Saskatchewan.”

Alaska Dispatch News – Michelle Theriault Boots
Juneau takes a novel approach to dealing with chronic shoplifters

The amount of time and energy that shoplifting takes, the suspicion that relatively short jail sentences do little or nothing to deter the shoplifting, and the expense of fruitless response to the crime has led the justice system in Juneau to look for alternatives to jail.  “City attorneys say prosecuting people is a toothless, fruitless exercise with virtually no consequences.”  So starting this month a group of repeat offenders will be offered a chance for dismissal of charges if they agree and follow through with a case worker trying to improve their lives.  They must also make restitution.   Related article: Lincoln Journal Star – JoAnne Young   Attorney, author says Nebraska prison population could be halved  (Interview with youth advocate Bryan Stevenson)