Recompense for solitary…

April 6, 2019

Toronto Star – Editorial (April 1, 2019)
Ottawa now has even more reasons to fix solitary confinement

The Star comments on the latest court ruling that limits the Correctional Services to a max of 15 days.  But the Court of Appeal in Ontario, saying that the practice “outrages standards of decency and amounts to cruel and unusual treatment” now also has imposed a remedy in giving inmates compensation for the treatment.  “The government needs to overhaul Bill C-83, its attempt at reform which is now before the Senate. That bill felt short of what was needed before this ruling, and it’s even worse now.”

Global Government Forum – Natalie Leal
UK probation outsourcing ‘irredeemably flawed’, says inspector

So far, the UK has only partially outsourced its probation services but what it has done is, according to the system’s Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey, is flawed to the point at which the services should return to public ownership.  Under contract to private groups since 2013, Says Stacy:  The supervision provided under contracts is “substandard,” with much of it “demonstrably poor…Probation contracts treat it largely as a transactional business…  Consequently, there has been a deplorable diminution of the probation profession and a widespread move away from good probation practice.”  Most of the current contracts will expire in 2010.

The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) – Grace Toohey
Could Louisiana slash prison population in half by 2025? It could happen, ACLU says; here’s how

The obvious problem with mass incarceration is that there are too many people in jail.  The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) is offering a way to reduce the jail population by one half over the next six years.  The prescription is contained in a report called Blueprint for Smart Justice Louisiana:  reduce over-reliance on incarceration, reduce sentences for non-violent offenses, use alternatives to prison. The goal, including confronting the racial prejudice of the system around who goes to jail, is to save $800 million and reduce the state prison population to 20,000 from the 35,000 in prison in 2017.  Alanah Odoms Hebert, the ACLU of Louisiana executive director, is getting push back from District Attorneys but insists that the report is a blueprint whose directions will need time to make a difference.   Blueprint for Smart Justice Louisiana (A 24 page downloadable pdf)

CBC News – Dan Taekema
Critics say sticker shock at cannabis prices will push customers back to the black market

By the time all the stake holders get their cut, it appears that pricing of the legitimate sales of medical and recreational marijuana is encouraging the black market sales where the prices are lower and customers have fewer hoops to jump through:  9.70 for cannabis compared to $6.51 on the black market.  Most don’t think that quality control in the product will be an acceptable justification for the considerable price differential and the already established black market sources.  Related article: Toronto Star / Wall Street Journal – Jessica Menton (WSJ) Legalization in Canada sparks rally in marijuana stocks

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
What’s changing in Ford’s new police oversight law — and why it matters

After vociferous criticism of the Liberal revision of the Ontario Police act (Bill 175 The Safer Ontario Act, Ford’s government have surfaced a 300 page further revision that simple repeats its antecedent except for five major changes the Ford Tories want:  1. When police will have to notify the Special Investigations Unit (SIU); 2. Suspension of a police officer without pay; 3. SIU transparency requirements; 4: Public complaints about the police; 5. SIU power to charge civilians.  Gillis provides a comparison with current practice and an analysis of why the change matters.  Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   Cop watchdog agency fears ‘severe’ financial cuts

Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung
‘This is not what we came to this country for, to live and work like animals’: Migrant workers say they endured modern-day slavery in Simcoe County

The sex slavery among Canadians and immigrants is known but this article puts a new twist on the scene.  These immigrants are recruited into labour within the service industry of hotels, paid a low wage, and get stripped of what little they have by temporary placement agencies under contract to the hotels.  Despite raids by police in February, no changes have yet been laid in a scheme involving the slave labour of 43 people aged 20-46. “Human trafficking has exploded in Canada: Between 2010 and 2016, the annual number of cases has increased 11 fold, according to a parliamentary report published in December. The majority of incidents — 66 per cent — happened in Ontario, with 14 per cent in Quebec, 8 per cent in Alberta, and the rest spread across Canada.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   Toronto police investigating racist, anti-immigrant Twitter account that appears to belong to officer

Toronto Star – Ignatius Ssuuna, Associated Press
25 years after Rwanda genocide, survivors forgive killers

“A quarter century after the 1994 genocide that killed 75% of the country’s ethnic Tutsis, Rwanda has six “reconciliation villages” like Mbyo, where genocide survivors and perpetrators live alongside each other. Convicted killers re-integrate into society by publicly apologizing for their crimes. Survivors profess forgiveness. The villages are showpieces of President Paul Kagame’s policy of ethnic reconciliation, although some critics say the communities are forced and the reconciliation is artificial.”  Said one victim:  “I found I could not live with anger forever.”

Ottawa Citizen – Blair Crawford
Jail guards ‘failed miserably’ to save suicidal Ottawa inmate, mother says ahead of inquest

The link offers a 3 minute video of the mother of Justin St. Amour who hanged himself in the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre in November of 2016.  She described in upsetting clarity and detail repeated efforts to get mental health attention for her son.  A coroner’s inquest into the death begins Monday. “Our mentally ill children should not be in jail. They should be in a hospital receiving help that they need,” said Laureen St. Amour who plans to be at the inquest every day and wants to work to change the system.