Timely intervention…

July 11, 2018

CBC News – Kevin Dougherty
Quebec investing in ‘collaborative justice’ program to resolve family conflicts – Quebec will spend $180,000 to expand a project to resolve family conflicts that reach ‘crisis’ level

Robert Pidgeon, associate chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, asked the Quebec government for money to expand the Parental Conflict Resolution program and got enough to expand to 80 cases if the parent conflict has the potential to considerably impact the children in a marriage that is imploding.  The program applies collaborative justice principles to confront a high conflict family breakdown and to prevent an estranged parent from murder of the children and then suicide.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/divorce-justice-collaborative-1.4732634

Globe and Mail – Jack Hauen
Toronto’s chief medical officer calls for decriminalization of all drugs for personal use

Dr. Eileen de Villa is of the opinion that criminalizing small amounts of presently illegal drugs is contributing to the problem rather than helping.  The change comes when addictions are treated as medical health problems rather than criminal justice problems.  The opinion, growing in circles practicing harm reduction strategies, has found support internationally where Portugal, for example, has no criminal laws on drugs and has seen considerable reduction in addictions.  “Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa recommended the federal government scale up harm-prevention strategies, including the removal of legal penalties for small amounts of drugs, and convene a task force to look at the possibility of regulating all drugs, such as alcohol.”   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-torontos-chief-medical-officer-calls-for-decriminalization-of-all/

International Federation of Social Workers – Pascal Rudin
Launch of Major Global Report on Social Work and Social Development:  Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability – Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development: Third Report

The 270 page report gives examples of how social work and social development are actively promoting sustainable communities and sustainable environments in five regional reports and a global overview.   https://www.ifsw.org/launch-of-major-global-report-on-social-work-and-social-development/   Full report in pdf:  (PDF costs $26.49 to download)  https://www.ifsw.org/product/books/global-agenda-for-social-work-and-social-development-3rd-report/

The Appeal (California) – Carimah Townes
 California County Law Enforcement Puts Kids on Probation for Bad Grades

Riverside County has defined ‘pre-delinquent’ behavior and four youths put in its Youth Accountability program are suing the constitutionality of the process and practice in federal court.  Approximately 400 kids in 17 school districts are currently subjected to a special contractual probation because they were assigned pre-delinquent status by “school administrators, law enforcement officials, community members, and some parents for school discipline problems, mental health issues, poor academics, and family conflicts.  The probation, say advocates, among other legal concerns, short circuits all due process and leaves a lot to be desired for educational philosophy.  https://theappeal.org/california-county-law-enforcement-puts-kids-on-probation-for-bad-grades/

CBC News – Ariana Kelland
‘Please help me’: Chris Sutton wrote letter to human rights commission 5 days before death – Inmate who took his own life alleged conditions tantamount to torture at HMP

We have heard many allegations and seen many coroner’s inquests into inmate suicide while suffering from mental illness.  When mental illness announces its presence in a prison, the immediate response is to put the inmate in solitary confinement without any sort of psychological or psychiatric care.  We need no more examples of the destructive combination f circumstances and we need to ask why the suicides continue.  Five days before killing himself, inmate Chris Sutton at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s wrote a letter to the Human Rights Commission.  Too late but in response, Kim Mackay, the acting chair of the Newfoundland Human Rights Commission, said: “I am heartsick  I am beyond … the emotion just doesn’t even address how I feel about this.”   https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4733364?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: The Daily Beast – Siraphob Thanthong-Knight   State Prisons Fail to Offer Cure to 144,000 Inmates with Deadly Hepatitis C   https://www.thedailybeast.com/state-prisons-fail-to-offer-cure-to-144000-inmates-with-deadly-hepatitis-c

Blogger Russell Webster
What about me?  The impact on children when mothers are involved in the criminal justice system

We are consumed recently with the depravity of separating children from the asylum seeking parents in the southern US.  Webster reminds us of the separation that takes place when mothers, most frequently the primary care-givers for their children are imprisoned.  The consequences are all the more stark when, as Webster suggests, the majority of sentenced women are sentenced for non-violent crimes and are given short sentences, frequently a year or 6 months or even less.  The picture puts a severe contrast on the almost exclusive reliance on jail even when a host of factors would scream alternatives needed.  https://mailchi.mp/russellwebster/prtkids18?e=10ab936adc  Related article: Canadian Lawyer: Aiden Macnab –  Feds need to end detention of children, say human rights groups  (Commentary by International Human Rights Program, U of T, on current situation in Canada with detained children.)  http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/author/aidan-macnab/feds-need-to-end-detention-of-children-say-human-rights-groups-15944/?utm_term=Feds%20need%20to%20end%20detention%20of%20children%2C%20say%20human%20rights%20groups&utm_campaign=CLNewswire_20180709&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

CBC News – Alisa Lombard and Aubrey Charette
The specific claims process is about justice for First Nations, not charity – Legal obligations have been breached or unfulfilled, and these failings must be remedied

“Specific claims” is a term used in the legal issues around how to resolve the many  colonial failures in relations between Canada and its Indigenous people.  “The body of outstanding violations against First Nations, accumulated through colonial and post-colonial mistreatment and negligence. These violations, allegedly committed by the federal government, generally concern treaty obligations, reserve lands or the administration of Indigenous property.”  There is a controversy around whether the nature of the claims is social welfare or legal right to which there must be legal remedy.  In fact, there is a Specific Claims Tribunal, established in 2008 and supervised by superior court judges to arbitrate final binding decisions.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/specific-claims-1.4736749

CBC News – Angela Sterritt
Prisons ‘pulverizing’ Indigenous people – Correctional healing lodges aim to reduce rising rates of Indigenous inmates but numbers continue to climb

30% of federal inmates are Indigenous according to the latest Stats Can report, up another 9% from 2007.  Healing lodges have been part of the correctional system for over 20 years but there is little hard data to illustrate if and how the lodges are effective.  An inmate must be classified as minimum security to be eligible.  Other studies have suggested that Indigenous inmates suffer a cultural bias in the system, get longer sentences and are held longer before parole.  Doug White, of the B.C. Aboriginal Justice Council,   who is working on the B.C. government’s first Indigenous justice strategy, says:  “We need to get into the roots, the depths and foundations of our criminal justice system that has been structured in a way that has excluded Indigenous people in its design… The justice system has been “pulverizing Indigenous people for decades.”   https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/correctional-healing-lodges-aim-to-reduce-rising-rates-of-indigenous-inmates-but-numbers-continue-to-climb

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Federal government urged to rein in mandatory minimum sentences

The Liberal government has been changing practices and process in the criminal justice system since elected but one notable item absent from the changes is the Tory government’s mandatory minimums, an omission, say critics, that clogs the courts besides removing the discretion of the judges.  “There’s been decades of evidence, volumes of criminological study, weeks and weeks of combined testimony before the House of Commons and Senate, and there was the explicit promise (to review the issue), and this isn’t just breaking one promise to deal with mandatory minimum sentences, it fundamentally breaks a promise to craft legislation and policy based on evidence,” said Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt.  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/07/10/federal-government-urged-to-rethink-reliance-on-mandatory-minimum-sentences.html