May 30, 2019

St. Leonard’s Society of Canada
Life(r)’s Work: Developing a Modernized Strategy for Life-Sentenced People in Canada

Known for its attention to issues around lifers (one in four inmates in Canada), this group has a strategy for confronting the specific needs that accompany aging in prisons called the Lifer Resource Strategy (LRS), a replacement after the Lifeline Program was dropped for want of funding.  The report has recently been submitted to the Minister of Public Safety.  The report presents the LRS strategies and examines the access and the use of the strategies by lifers in a peer mentoring approach.  Among the needed conditions for this unique programming for lifers: accessibility to LRS and other programming, peer support, opportunities to contribute to their case management, Support for navigating their sentence, a voice.  The report offers a summary of some research and concludes with a series of ten recommendations to better help lifers.

CBC News – Richard Cuthbertson
Halfway houses across Canada refused to take this high-risk offender — except 1

This offender, Chris Watts, aged 58, is one of 440 across Canada who are under long term supervision because they are judged to be dangerous to the public.  Most are sexual offenders. Watts was refused acceptance at halfway houses and eventually housed at Jamieson Community Correctional Centre, a halfway house run by Corrections Canada in a Halifax-area industrial park.  Watts is now in federal court asking to be allowed to live in Vancouver, prompting a great deal of speculation about what is needed to keep the public safe whether in NS or BC.

CBC Radio (Podcast)
What the Cindy Gladue case exposes about the justice system

Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous woman murdered in the bathtub of a Winnipeg motel.  Her case prompted some unusual upset from the way the Crown presented the case to jurors.  Now, the Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for the man acquitted of her murder.  The link is to an audio podcast which explains why this case raises so many questions about the treatment of murdered Indigenous women.   Related article: Global TV News – Hotline for victims of human trafficking goes live in Canada in 200 languages

Toronto Star – Paul Hunter
‘She never gave up’: Toronto woman jailed for having Chinese lover remembered as a crusader for justice

This is another link to explain a little of our history and capacity to be swayed by any number of issues quite apart from what is legal or moral for that matter.  One morning in 1939, teenaged and pregnant Velma Demerson and her fiancé, Harry Yip, were interrupted at breakfast by an outraged father and two police constables who arrested Demerson.  Demerson later wound up serving part of her year’s custody at the infamous Andrew Mercer Reformatory, Canada’s first women’s prison among other indignities visited on her.

Toronto Star – Kate Allen and Wendy Gillis
Toronto police have been using facial recognition technology for more than a year

The use of facial recognition technology is relatively new but facing a barrage of legal and privacy issues.  But it has been in use for over a year now by Toronto police who have a file of 1.5 million faces with which to compare a suspect’s face.  The adoption of the technology by-passed any oversight legislation and has privacy advocates concerned with its illegitimate potential for intrusion.  Research has shown that the technology has a higher propensity for false recognition when used on non-white racial or ethnic groups.  Advocates also wonder why the practice is only now coming to light.  Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis  Black and Indigenous people less likely to trust Toronto police, survey finds

McMaster University – Ruth Adair

There’s a health care crisis in Canada’s federal prisons, says Global Health grad

Eilish Scallan is a medical student and graduate of the Master degree in Global Health.  She is offering in her thesis a comparison between the health care available in Canada’s prisons and the guides established by the UN.  The perspective is unique but so are the insights gained about what is deficient and how to correct the deficiencies simply to achieve the UN expectation of medical care for prisoners.  Thesis (A 74 page downloadable pdf)   Related article: CBC News Dan Taekema  ‘Pure insanity:’ Another inmate at Barton jail taken to hospital after suspected overdose  Related article: CBC News – Kristy Kirkup, Canadian Press    Goodale faces questions over N.S. prison’s delay in calling police

CBC News – Benjamin Shingler and Alison Northcott
Elder caregivers face stress, tears with scant support

Jocelyne Lizotte was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s to the point her husband, Michel Cadotte, 58, could no longer endure.  He was found guilty of manslaughter in a Montreal court after smothering her with a pillow and sentenced to two years in prison.  The case has given rise to further discussion about the perceived weakness of the right to die law and the need for better assistance to and care of caregivers in desperate circumstances.  Quebec Superior Court Justice Hélène Di Salvo, who delivered the two year sentence, characterized Cadotte as “a man in love who was exhausted and couldn’t stand to see his wife suffering any longer.”  Most of those involved think that Quebec law will undergo revisions due to this case.  Related article: BC Tyee – Crawford Kilian  In Dementia Caregiving, Countless Unrecognized Acts of Love    Related article: BC-CTV News – Nick Wells   Canada’s first ‘dementia village’ set to open its doors

CBC News – David Thurton
In a Canadian first, Federal Court issues decision in Cree and Dene

This ruling is the first time a federal court has issued its ruling in both the Cree and Dene languages.  It is an effort to make the court more accessible to Indigenous People.  The ruling overturned the suspension of a band councillor Samantha Whalen from Fort McMurray #468 First Nation.  The summary judgment was issued in English and French as well.  Justice Roger Lafrenière, chair of the court’s Aboriginal Law Bar Liaison Committee, said: “We are trying to demystify what our court is about. This was, in my view, a perfect example by providing these summaries to say we are listening and we are doing things differently.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – Gloria Galloway   Conservative senators move to kill bill requiring laws to be consistent with UN declaration on Indigenous rights   Related article: Global TV News – Jane Gerster    Ramadan behind bars: How one inmate’s fight to fast highlights oversight concerns

Muskogee Phoenix E-paper (US) – Diane Dimond
Crime and Courts: Imprisonment costs in US staggering $182B

The spending of the criminal justice system staggers the imagination in a country where 5% of the world’s population jails 25% of the world’s prisoners.  If the amount does not blow you away, the realization that the amount is an annual cost may.   Most of the failed practices repeat themselves and longer sentences mean more costs for facilities, staff, operational expenses, police, parole, supervision, etc, each with its own tab.  “The current system is bloated, largely ineffective and destined to cost more and more every year. With the prison population in decline, there is no excuse to stick with the dysfunctional status quo.”

Time Magazine (US) – Suyin Haynes
The World Health Organization Will Stop Classifying Transgender People as Having a ‘Mental Disorder’

Having already de-classified lesbians and gays as suffering from a mental disorder, the World Health Organization of the United Nations has done likewise for transgendered people.  The international body will remove “gender identity disorder” from its International Classification of Disorders (ICD-11).  Human Rights Watch has suggested that the removal will encourage advocates to the WHO’s 194 members to increase their activity to legally recognize the status of the world’s transgender population and bring domestic law up to the WHO code.

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights

The government is proposing changes to the oath of allegiance taken by new Canadian that also recognizes the continuing Indigenous presence in Canada and calls for respect of “the Indigenous and treaty rights for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”  The proposed new text reads:  “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”   Related article: Huffington Post (Canada) – Teresa Wright and Kristy Kirkup   Liberals Aim To Change Citizenship Oath To Include Indigenous Rights – Native and treaty rights are an essential part of Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says.