Youth solitary…

May 2, 2018

CBC News – Cristina Tucciarone, Ferdouse Asefi and Sebastian di Domenico
If we truly want to rehabilitate incarcerated youth, we must stop putting them in solitary confinement

Advocates have made some inroads into the use of solitary confinement for the mentally ill but now are focused on what is considered another vulnerable population: Youth, aged 12-17.  The United Nations Mandela Rules, commonly accepted internationally, stipulate that solitary should not be used on youth at all, though some make a distinction between youth in secure isolation and youth in solitary, a distinction lost on most.  Advocates see solitary both as psychologically damaging and a double punishment.   Related article: CBC News (SK) – Kendall Latimer   Ombudsman wants video recording changes at correctional facilities after restraint, excessive force complaints – Saskatchewan ombudsman Mary McFadyen received 3,298 complaints in 2017, annual report says

Policy Options – Daniel Del Gobbo and Vathsala Illesinghe
Restorative justice for survivors of sexual violence – The #MeToo movement has exposed inequalities in the legal system that disadvantage women. Restorative justice could help in certain sexual violence cases.

The article addresses the scope of the sexual violence in Canada and examines the short fall of the handling of these incidents by the adversarial criminal justice system, advocating instead for the greater use of RJ.  At the base, the authors also acknowledge that the incidents are a complex point where sexuality and gender intersect with race and class based ingredients.  “We need to modernize the criminal justice system to ensure that every survivor of sexual violence — no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love — is treated with equal compassion and respect. This should not be controversial. Yet it has been well documented that many survivors experience the pursuit of criminal justice — intense public scrutiny, gendered social media backlash and the considerable time and expense involved — as deeply re-traumatizing.”  Related article: Globe and Mail – John Ibbitson    Senators face difficult choice over Bill C-66

National Post – Brian Platt
Legal fight over summer jobs abortion-rights clause escalates as new challenges are filed

The federal government requirement for charities seeking summer youth employment funds to sign an attestation around abortion is heating up with both the charities and the government re-enforcing their respective positions.  The lines are now more sharply divided with intervenors on both sides.  On Friday past, the Toronto Right to Life filed papers accusing the government of negotiating with bad faith and others are preparing Charter challenges while third party groups are also joining the fray.  The process by which government decided on the attestation has also been revealed.

 Government of the United Kingdom – Justice Ministry
Justice Secretary announces ambitious first steps in overhaul of Parole Board

The UK has been embroiled in controversy around the parole process for some time.  The Justice Secretary David Gauke has just released the report of a study commissioned in January past.  Most significantly, the blanket ban on revealing the activities of the Parole Board has been removed and the process of decision making now allows for disclosure on the procedure and contents, and makes the outcome subject to judicial appeal.  Says Gauke:  “Today I am announcing a package of measures to reform the Parole Board and introduce transparency of its decisions. But we are going further and consulting on a new way to challenge Parole Board decisions that would be judge-led and could, in some circumstances, be open to the public.”   Full text of Policy Paper:  Review of the law, policy and procedure relating to Parole Board decisions  

CBC News – John Paul Tasker
Senators recommend delaying cannabis bill for a year to address Indigenous issues – First Nations say their governments will face new social challenges from legal cannabis

The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs is asking the government to delay implementation of the legalization of marijuana because the communities are concerned about the adverse effects on the youth, many of whom already traumatized.  There is, according to the First Nations, no culturally appropriate education material and revenue sharing with First Nations is also on the table.  The law will likely be effective 8-12 weeks after the bill gets final approval, now scheduled for June 7.   Related article: National Newswatch – Michael J. Armstrong Buying pot in Ontario in 2018 will be like buying booze in 1928

CBC News – David Cochrane and Lisa Laventure
Canada helped France dig up evidence to extradite Ottawa man later freed on terror charges – Justice Department’s ‘smoking gun’ evidence led to Hassan Diab’s extradition, but case didn’t hold up

CBC News has acquired documents that assert that Canada’s Justice Department was active in providing France with evidence to extradite Diab who spent thirty-eight months mostly in solitary in a French prison before the charges were dropped.  The government facilitation of collecting evidence that was later proved false against Diab, a Canadian citizen, raises the question of the proper role of Canadian Justice in international relations.

Policy Options – Yafet Tewelde
Our justice system for youth should invest in early childhood well-being and opportunities for young people in the most marginalized communities.

Tewelde starts with the notion that the justice system has not worked equally well for all youth and often discriminates against minority group youth.  He says, that the justice system – policing, courts and prisons – does not provide solutions to criminality but “(are) rather tools of a system that further marginalizes historically oppressed communities; particularly Indigenous and Black communities. Data on Canadian Indigenous and Black inmate over-representation is similar to American data on Black inmates.”  The real solution, according to Tewelde:  “Redirecting the focus of police from arresting and processing youth through courts and prisons and mandating that all kids under 18 must be directed to a youth justice services will help address the causes of youth criminality.”