Abused in jail…

Feb 28, 2019

CBC News – Samantha Craggs
Half of Canada’s prisoners were abused as children, McMaster study suggests

This report supplements a truth etching its way in the US penology literature: namely that a considerable number of incarcerated people, especially women, are themselves victims of abuse as children.  The study team led by medical student Clare Bodkin, studied 30 years of research data on Canadian inmates, was supplemented by researchers from four other universities.  The results, called “an alarmingly high number,” powerfully insist that the real effective and human solution lies in preventing the initial abuse, not in reacting to later events.  The findings aren’t surprising says Ruth Greenspan, executive director of the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and area in Ontario.  “Many resort to their own abuse of themselves,” she said. “There’s a lot of addiction, self-mutilation, self-harm, and suicide, which again, are all indications of having suffered a lot of trauma. PTSD is something you see when you work with this population.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/prison-abuse-1.5024420?fbclid=IwAR1_M4x_str85OMM8of9thpiTuEDcrBo5I-FZMlP7pNsEobryfSwOI8yrhU

Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability
#CallItFemicideUnderstanding gender-related killings of women and girls in Canada 2018

The report stems from a UN suggestion to study specifically the perpetration of violence on women “to more comprehensively and accurately document gender-related killings of women and girls or ‘femicide’.”  The report shows 148 women whose lives ended by violence in 2018 and documents the detail around these incidents: the male perpetrators, the intimacy or stranger factors, informed prevention, the future direction for research and a memoire of the victims.  https://femicideincanada.ca/callitfemicide.pdf

CBC News – Matt Prokopchuk
Breaches of Ontario man’s charter rights so ‘abhorrent, egregious’ that murder charge stayed, judge rules

Four and one half years in pre-trial custody in solitary confinement has resulted in a judicial censure to the point that a murder charge has been stayed.  Superior Court Justice John Fregeau handed down the ruling on Jan 28 in the case of a mentally ill man, Adam Capay, but the reasons for the ruling were subject to a publication ban.  The ban was lifted this week when the Crown decided not to appeal the case and what emerges is a frightful litany of abuse of human rights within the correctional system at Thunder Bay.   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/adam-capay-judge-s-ruling-1.5033625  Related article: Globe and Mail – Patrick White   Ontario human rights commissioner calls for end to solitary confinement in wake of Capay case      https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-solitary-confinement-should-be-banned-in-ontario-human-rights/  

World Economic Forum (Davos) – Rosamond Hutt
This is the state of LGBTI rights around the world in 2018 (I=Intersex)

This link is to the Davos report on the legal status of the LGBT community in the various countries.  Issued first in January, it is now updated to June of 2018.  The report acknowledges the significance of the World Health Organization re-classification of transgender people: “In a new catalogue, covering some 55,000 diseases, the condition is no longer listed under “mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders” but instead under “conditions related to sexual health”.   Unfortunately, there are still 72 countries where homosexual acts are still illegal, with increasing legal application to lesbians, and eight countries where homosexual acts are punishable by death.  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/lgbti-rights-around-the-world-in-2018/   Related article: The International Gay and Lesbians Association: Report for 2017   https://ilga.org/downloads/2017/ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2017_WEB.pdf

CBC News – Jessica Deer
Gladue principles need to apply to more than sentencing, says Anishinaabe lawyer

The Gladue principle requires judges at sentencing of Indigenous people to take into consideration the cultural and life circumstances that the accused displays.  Though inconsistently practiced, Joey Twins, a Cree woman from Alberta, told an audience at the Innocence McGill Conference about pleading guilty to avoid a longer sentence in spite of the innocence.  One solution to reduce the incidents of guilt plea while innocent says lawyer and advocate Promise Holmes Skinner is to apply the Gladue principles to the entire criminal process, not simply the sentencing.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/gladue-more-than-sentencing-justice-1.5035668   Related article: CBC News – Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press    New N.S. policy aims to ensure fair treatment of Indigenous Peoples in courts   https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/new-n-s-policy-aims-to-ensure-fair-treatment-of-indigenous-peoples-in-courts-1.4313658

Toronto Star – Mitch Potter
Ottawa to unveil ‘no-cost, expedited’ pardons for Canadians convicted of pot possession

Since the first proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, advocates have been loud about the unfairness of charges, convictions and sentencing around simple pot possession, the low hanging fruit of drug enforcement.  Critics insist that no cost pardons are inadequate to the consequences of a criminal record for so many young people in particular and want full expungement as the only just way to confront the damages.  Estimates are between 250,000 and 500,000 who have been caught up in the problem and inconsistencies in the way data has been entered in police record databanks may prevent effective deletion.  https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2019/02/27/ottawa-to-unveil-no-cost-expedited-pardons-for-canadians-convicted-of-pot-possession.html

Southern Poverty Law Centre (US)cash bail,
Following SPLC complaint, Louisiana bail bond companies ordered to repay millions in excess fees to New Orleans residents

Bail, fees and fines are according to critics a way to further impoverish poor people drawn into the justice system.  Now a Louisiana court has ordered New Orleans based bail bond companies – at least 21 in number – to refund over $6 million in deliberately overcharged fees involving some 50,000 people.  Micah West, senior staff attorney for the SPLC, voiced delight on the ruling:  “This casual and routine thievery ends today thanks to the order by the Louisiana Department of Insurance, which found that these bail bond companies routinely overcharged defendants and which requires them to return their ill-gotten profits by no later than June 1, 2019.”   https://www.splcenter.org/news/2019/02/21/following-splc-complaint-louisiana-bail-bond-companies-ordered-repay-millions-excess-fees

Channel 7 (Denver, Colorado)
Denver activists make reparations hoping for racial justice and reconciliation

This news item offers a new perspective and perhaps approach to bridge the racial divide.  The discovery of slave ownership and participation in the KKK by previous generations of the family led retired financial strategist Lotte Lieb Dula to an organization called Coming to the Table and the practice or reparations as part of racial reconciliation, a process that has been found to involve much more than money. https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/our-colorado/denver-activists-make-reparations-hoping-for-racial-justice-and-reconciliation