LGBT records…

Oct. 26, 2018

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Law permitting destruction of LGBT criminal records has seen low uptake so far – Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act came into force in June

Four months ago the feds passed legislation inviting those convicted of criminal offence as part of the LGBTQ community to apply for expungement of the criminal record.  From about 9,000 such convictions, only seven have applied to date, two granted and five pending at the Parole Board.  The law allows spouses, children and others to apply in the case of those deceased.  The results may suggest an onerous process that should be further actively pursued by the Parole Board rather than the victims.

CBC News – Robin Urback
Why are so many former prohibitionist politicians entering the marijuana bu$ine$$?:

As they say in the mystery story, follow the money.  The unfolding of the legalization of marijuana has much lack of clarity but none around who will profit from the sale.  Among the culprits whom Urback identifies are former PM Bryan Mulroney, former Cabinet Ministers Julian Fantino and Joe Oliver, among others.  Urback points out a conversion process since many of those former government officials were responsible for the mandatory prison sentences that went with their past opposition.  “These aren’t average Joes whose views on cannabis have changed; they were and are enormously powerful people who oversaw the arrest, prosecution and punishment of thousands of Canadians who possessed substances about which they have not only changed their views, but which will now be a money-maker for them.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Choe Sang-hun The New York Times   Canna-diss: South Korea to punish those who use cannabis in Canada  Related article: Toronto Star Editorial Board (Oct. 22, 2018)  Ottawa should go further in offering pardons for pot possession   Related article: Toronto Star – Kathy English Public Editor  Unpublishing historic marijuana charges a challenge for newsrooms   Related article: CBC News – Canadian Press  New pot, impaired driving penalties could bar newcomers from Canada

The Economist (US)
There is nothing inevitable about America’s over-use of prisons – A 40-year prison binge has done nothing to guard Americans against crime

The magazine notes that in the US justice system, the states lock up more people than the federal government and that the question of costs and effectiveness sits squarely with the individual states.  What to do?  “A list would include alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders, problem-solving courts that use incarceration as a last resort, reserving the longest sentences for those who pose a danger to the public, bail reform and treatment programmes for mentally ill defendants.”

The Marshall Project – Connie Farris as told to Christie Thompson
Caring for My Sick Husband from Prison – A federal inmate feels helpless as her partner’s health deteriorates.

Connie Farris is 73 year old and her husband of over 50 years is 74.  She is in prison serving a 12 year sentence for mail fraud since 2011.  He suffers from Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy that has no cure and there is no one at home to care for him as he enters the stage of falling from the disease.  This case seems to bring the ridiculous to the notion of secondary victims.  She has applied repeatedly for compassionate release after seven years in prison but the Bureau of Prisons says release “would minimize the severity of Mrs. Farris’ offense.”

House of Commons (UK) – Home Affairs Committee
Domestic Abuse Report

The official report mandated by the Home Office examines the various aspects of domestic abuse in the UK.  Part of the purpose of the report is to prepare legislation around the issue.  What is quite unusual is the inclusion of economic abuse in the statutory definition of domestic abuse, including the economic circumstances of refugees.  The report also urges an explicit inclusion for the concerns of children caught up in the domestic abuse, and recommends a new commissioner be appointed for violence against women and girls.  (Executive summary is available on pp 3-5 of the 59 page pdf.)

Nunatsiak News – Beth Brown
 Nunavut jail riot cost $1.5 million – Bulk of spending went toward housing inmates in Ontario

This is a fascinating report in some financial detail around the cost of reacting to the one night riot – June 20 – at the territorial jail.  40 inmates were re-located to Ontario jails after the damages to a cell block.  The real costs were in the relocation expenses – charter flight, per diems, costs for escorts.  The wisdom of prevention and alternatives to prisons comes through this itemized listing.

Hamilton Spectator – Teresa Wright
Canada officials deem U.S. a safe country for asylum seekers after internal review

For some time now, since the influx of Haitian refugees from the US anticipating the expiry of their temporary visitor visas in the US, the question has been whether the US continued to constitute a “safe third country” to which the Haitian applicants for refugee status may be returned.  Despite increasingly harrowing “illegal aliens” status in the US, the US has been deemed by Canada as continuing to be a safe third country.  The ruling now makes possible the deportation of the Haitians back to their circumstances of expired visa holders and likely gives them over the further deportation by the US to their native Haiti.  “The requirements for designating a country as safe are threefold: each country must comply with the United Nations convention against torture and the UN convention on refugees and it must maintain a good human rights record.”

CBC News – Richard Gleason
N.W.T. man first in Canada to be convicted for unsafe operation of a drone

A judge in the North West Territories has reluctantly accepted a plea bargain with a man changed with dangerous operation of a drone.  The actual charge, the first for a drone operation in Canada, was for dangerous operation of an aircraft but the charge was compounded by repeated defiance of probation and repeated offences, including lying to police.  Toufic Chamas was operating a drone in the same airspace used by airliners at the Yellowknife Airport.  He is now back in jail on a series of other charges.

CBC News – Catou MacKinnon
Head of SQ to address explosive allegations of misconduct by Val-d’Or officers for 1st time

Allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct first filed by a group of Indigenous women in 2015 have not resulted in any charges and the women are again raising their concerns around the indifferent and silent response of the Surété de Québec.  Martin Prud’homme, the head of the Surété de Québec, is currently on leave seconded to the Montreal police, is expected to testify before an inquiry today.

Tyee (BC) – Dorothy Woodend
Strapping in for the Big Crash with Chris Hedges – Having chronicled the US empire’s slide, he’s not giving pep talks.

Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning social and economic commentator who, as a reporter, has covered events around the world.  He was in Vancouver promoting his latest book: America, The Farewell Tour.  Woodend explores, capitalism, debt, wages, and Canada’s exposure as well.