Ask an expert…

Dec. 6, 2017

CBC News – Kelly Malone
‘They have a lot to teach us’: Inmates call for Canadian justice reform in journal – Journal of Prisoners on Prisons gives more than 50 inmates a voice on justice reform

Want the real scoop?  Ask those who live the experience, not those who merely observe.   That’s what the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons is doing.  Inmates themselves are offering commentary on what is happening to them and the journal has so far accumulated over 50 stories of life behind bars. “Prisoners know a lot about criminalization, know a lot about imprisonment, they have experiences. They have knowledge that needs to be shared with the general public and criminal justice policy makers if we want to try to understand harm and conflict in our societies better, and deal with it more effectively and more justly in the future,” said co-managing editor Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg.  The Journal is published by the University of Ottawa Press.  The web site for the Journal: (Articles available by downloadable pdf)

International Business Times (IBT) – (UK) – Lydia O’Neal
As The Criminal Justice System Changes, So Does a Private Prison Giant

Here’s disturbing piece of news from London about the US prison system.  The presence of private prison-for-profit operators in the US criminal justice system has long been controversial and has revealed deep political and government involvement in its furtherance.  Now we have a not surprising response from private prisons who fear the end of a supply of mass incarceration inmates:  the private prison operators are moving into half-way houses and drug treatment facilities but with equally poor performance. “The Pennsylvania facility, known as the Alcohol & Drug Addiction Parole and Probation Treatment center, or simply ADAPPT, was acquired in April by politically-connected GEO Group Inc., better known for its private prison management. The previous manager, now a GEO subsidiary, is Community Education Centers, a private contractor known for its halfway houses.”   Related Article: Right Relevance – David Sirota   As The Criminal Justice System Changes, So Does A Private Prison Giant

Global News – Jennifer Crosby
Former head of RCMP drug squad now leads national marijuana business

We have been following for some time the former career police and politicians who have been in the line-up to profit from the anticipated legalization of marijuana in July 2018.  The latest:  Derek Ogden, president of National Access Cannabis, is the former head of the RCMP drug squad.  “For the last five years of his 27-year career with the Mounties, he was in charge of drug enforcement and organized crime for RCMP across Canada, rising to the rank of chief superintendent.”

The Chronicler-Herald – Dan Leger
Our age of lies demands citizens be more vigilant

As we near year-end with all the reviews of the year’s news coming, Leger’s article may prove welcome food for coping with the serious questions about veracity and spin that is also coming.  “I’m talking about the feeling of living in the mad crossfire of facts, pseudo-facts and plain lies that are flying around out there. It’s a struggle to wade through it all to get to what’s really going on…Some subjects are notorious for lies and propaganda. Take “national security,” where both the terrorist foes and the authoritarians who claim to defend us have their own reasons to create distortions.”   Read on…

CBC News Judy Trinh
Ontario police to turn over sexual assault cases for outside review – ‘Groundbreaking’ review aims to increase number of charges and improve public trust, advocates say

The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women, with money from the Status of Women Canada, have achieved a break-through in the issue of how police investigate complaints of violence against women.  A large number of cases reported to the police are dismissed as “unfounded.” Conviction rates are also low across the country.  The review panel will have access to all but youth files and will report to the police every three months. Ottawa, Timmins, Peterborough, Ont., London, Ont., and Calgary will be reviewed by an outside panel of experts who work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence.    Related article: Policy Options – Naila Kabeer, London School of Economics  Women’s empowerment in business and the labour force    Related article: Policy Options – Sharon McIvor, Pamela Palmater, Shelagh Day  Equality delayed is equality denied for Indigenous women

UCLA (US) – Isaac Bryan, Terry Allen, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and Consultant, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, ACLU-CA
The Price for Freedom: Bail in the City of L.A. – A Million dollar Hoods Report

There has been much controversy about the discriminatory impact of a cash bail system in the US.  Critics have said for years that the high bail against poor people contributes significantly to the number of people in jail. This report looks at the actual numbers involved exclusively in LA and under the LA police only.  Between 2012 and 2016, and only for felonies and misdemeanor arrests in the city of LA, the total amount assigned was $19.4 billion.  The courts charge a non-refundable cash deposit and fee for the bond service comes to $210 million.  The issue is critical to reducing numbers in prison reform; some states have no cash bonds at all. The report breaks down the amounts by white, Black, Latino, men and women.

Pew Charitable Foundation – Cynthia Reilly and Alaina McBournie
Urgent Action Needed to Address the Opioid Crisis

The Pew Foundation is reacting to the Governor Report that led to the US President declaring the opioid addiction problem a national emergency.  “More than 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder (SUD), and every day, 91 people die from overdosing on prescription and illicit opioids. Yet only one in 10 individuals receives any form of treatment.” In particular says the foundation money is needed now to implement the evidence based solutions identified in the report.  Final Report from US Governors on Opioid solutions:  (138 pages downloadable pdf with 56 recommendations starting on p.12 )