Another wave?

Jan 14, 2019

MacLean’s – Andrew McDougal
The one question Conservatives need to answer before they say anything

As the 2019 federal election looms over us, and we recognize some gains in restorative justice measures after the Harper tough-on-crime era, it may be, says McDougal, that another tough-on-crime from Scheer is designed to invite back to the Conservatives those who abandoned them in the last election.  McDougal offers some of elements to date: “end automatic bail for gang members; revoke parole for gang members; identify gangs in the Criminal Code; and impose tougher sentences for ordering gang crime. Basically, if you hate gang crime, Scheer is your man…But chances are if you hate gang crime, Scheer was already your man. Even if it’s other crime that concerns you—from illegal border crossings to child killing—Scheer is probably already your man too. Not that it’s stopped Scheer from dropping additional planks from his #ASaferCanada plan like an over-refreshed carpenter.”

Blogger Sarah – Beautiful between
I love Jesus but I want to die: what you need to know about suicide

The press has been pre-occupied for some time with suicide of first responders and of young people in particular.  Some recent reporting suggests that single, white seniors are in fact the most frequent suicides.  There is a decidedly religious, even denominational flavour to this article, but the reflection goes well beyond the implicit colouring of its faith perspective.  It confronts the complications of faith commitment in the process of coping with depression and suicide.  SJNC offers this article as a sobering and frank examination of the issue and the obstacles we often bring to understanding the reality, especially if those obstacles stem from our own religious convictions.

Blogger Russell Webster / Guest Blogger Kevin Wong
Developing a voluntary sector model for engaging people with convictions

Wong, Associate Director – Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, Manchester Metropolitan University and Co-Editor of the British Journal of Community Justice, thinks that prisoners once released need volunteers with special characteristics to be helpful.  Wong proposes a model that involves: reciprocity, reliability, consistency and emotional pleasure.  Why special volunteers?  Inmates often develop a dependency on volunteers; the model currently in use does not parallel the needs; greater use of volunteers will mean that an evidence based model is more effective.

BBC News (UK) –
Ministers consider ending jail terms of six months or less

If the government followed through with a ban on sentences for custody of less than six months, estimates are that some 30,000 inmates every year would free spaces, mostly burglars and shoplifters.  At this point no alternative sentences have been proposed but community services of various sorts is the prime fallback.  The ban, suggested for England and Wales, would except violent or sexual crimes.  The talk has prompted a view that the ban should be on 12 months, about to be law in Scotland where there is presently a three month ban.

SBS News (Australia) – Maani Truu
Viral campaign to free jailed Indigenous women reaches $230,000

Australia has a prison and justice problem just like Canada in that large disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal women and mothers are in prison.  In Western Australia the largest reason is the inability to pay fines, a sort of debtor’s prison policy.  Sisters Inside, an inmate support group, launched a gofundme appeal and in four days got 5,000 donations amounting to $230,000 in just four days.  Prospects for much more:  “It’s very clear from the comments on the GoFundMe page that they [the donors] don’t want Aboriginal women, Aboriginal mothers in prison or arrested and put in prison for fine default.”

Popular – Samantha Grasso,
Finally, A Shred Of Good News As Former Felons Register To Vote In Florida

One of the common secondary sentences served by convicted felons is the loss of the right to vote.  The numbers are such that in states like Florida re-dress and registration of felons could sway the normally very tight elections.  Estimates of numbers of felons now eligible to vote are 1.4 million.  Related article: Sacramento Bee – Alexie Koseff   ‘It was like a ton of bricks crushed me’: California grapples with historic clemency rejections

 American Constitution Society (US) – Lauren-Brooke Eisen

Inside Private Prisons: New Book Examines the Industry Around Mass Incarceration

The article and the book are aimed not at eliminating private prisons – it concedes that private prisons are so entrenched that their removal will be very difficult – but at understanding the political origins of private prison and why they work so as to limit the adverse impact.  The author, a senior fellow at the Brennan Institute, offers “a glimpse into the privatization of corrections through the eyes of those who are incarcerated, their families, local government, directors of state departments of corrections, private prison officials, legislators, and criminal justice experts.”

WSFU – US Public Media – Perspectives: Tom Flannigan
Perspectives: Restorative Justice

The link is to a 48 minute audio program with a distinguished panel of practionners:  “Agnes Furey, author of “Wildflowers in the Medium”, with her story prominently featured in the documentary, “Another Justice;” Kate Grosmaire, who, with her husband, Andy, also is featured in the documentary; Betty Serow, a leader in Good Shepherd Catholic Church’s work in restorative justice; Dan Kahn, Executive Director of the Florida Restorative Justice Association; and Peter Butzin, a leader in the United Church in Tallahassee’s work in restorative justice.”