Prisoners’ rights…

Aug 15, 2019

Millhaven Lifers Liaison Group (MLLG) – Jeff Thomas
(Ed note:  Many identifiable groups with common interests are beginning to develop a human rights perspective to help guide fair and legal treatment under common understanding of human rights.  Below is the first declaration for inmates in our prisons, dating from 1979 when the first Prisoners’ Rights Day was instituted.)

Prison Justice Day, August 10th, 1979 for the end to senseless deaths in prisons. In support of human rights for prisoners.

To attain:

  • The right to meaningful work with fair wages,
  • The right to useful education and training,
  • The right to proper medical attention,
  • The right to freedom of speech and religion,
  • The right to free and adequate legal services,
  • The right to independent review of all prison decision making and conditions,
  • The right to vote,
  • The right to form a union,
  • The right to adequate work and fire safety standards,
  • The right to open visits and correspondence,
  • The right to natural justice and due process.

CBC News – John Paul Tasker
‘I take responsibility,’ says Trudeau in wake of damning report on SNC-Lavalin ethics violation

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has found that Prime Minister Trudeau has violated ethics around the SNC-Lavalin affair in a number of ways and further restricted access by Mr. Dion to information around the case.  Dion does not have the power to impose penalties for the violations.  Related article:  CBC News –  McLellan advises against splitting roles of attorney general, justice minister   Dion’s Report:  Trudeau II (63 page pdf)    Related article: CBC News – Kathleen Harris   How 4 ex-Supreme Court justices got caught up in SNC-Lavalin affair  Related article:  CBC News – Peter Zimonjic and Kathleen Harris   5 things we learned from Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion’s report on Justin Trudeau

The (US) – John Pfaff
A No-Holds-Barred Assault on Prosecutors

U.S. Attorney General William Barr was the author of ‘get tougher’ federal legislation in 1992 called “The Case for More Incarceration.”  Justice workers see the report as partly responsible for mass incarceration.  But Barr has begun a direct broadside attack on any dissenting prosecutors who are resisting the usual fare of tough-on-crime.  Critics of Barr also suspect that his comments are at least as much a directive to police as to prosecutors.  While the resistance and evidence of the failure of mass incarceration is more evident, what to do to reform police is anything but clear. 8-58420099

Brennan Center for Justice (US) – Cameron Kimble and Ames Grawert
Between 2007 and 2017, 34 States Reduced Crime and Incarceration in Tandem – Some still argue that increasing imprisonment is necessary to reduce crime. Data show otherwise.

The research confirms again that the major impact of the efforts to reform criminal justice is being played out at the state level where reduced crime rates and reduced incarceration are in tandem.  “Between 2007 and 2017, 34 states reduced both imprisonment and crime rates simultaneously, showing clearly that reducing mass incarceration does not come at the cost of public safety (for sources and definitions for crime data, see our latest crime report). The total number of sentenced individuals held in state prisons across the U.S. also decreased by 6 percent over the same decade. And these drops played out across the country.”

CBC News – Adam Carter
Family of murdered Toronto woman being forced to prove to coroner she’s dead

The strangest legal dilemma is causing renewed pain and grief in the lives of a murder victim’s family.  Dellen Millard and Mark Smich were found guilty of murdering Laura Babcock in 2017 but the Ontario coroner refuses to issue a death certificate until the family proves Laura is dead.  The remains were never found in the case.  The family now has to go to court to get a declaration of death.

CBC News – Amanda Pfeffer
Prison farms to make comeback – Federal program shuttered in 2010

Details are still not available but the cows and goats have already arrived at both Joyceville and Collins Bay medium security prisons.  The prison farms historically provided milk and eggs to prisons and food banks.  “Both the Joyceville and Collins Bay programs will include land management, horticulture and crop production.  “We’re moving along towards having a substantial program there for inmates to gain work skills and also to benefit from the rehabilitation or therapeutic aspects of farming.””

 Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis and Jennifer Pagliaro
Police plan won’t curb causes of gun violence, researchers say

This time it’s the bulk of $4.5 million to be used to address gang violence in Toronto, a pot created by the city, provincial and federal governments and destined to an 11-week, $4.5-million initiative dubbed “Project Community Space”.  Critics note again that the use of the funds for police personnel on the ground ignores the long term roots of the problems and is only marginally an even short term solution.   Toronto-based researcher Fiona Scott: “…it’s “insane” that non-profit organizations face onerous requirements for small grants to sustain community-based programs for at-risk youth, while police are being promised $1.5 million by the city with little oversight.”    Related article:  Ottawa Citizen – Canadian Press   Canadian police chiefs won’t back handgun ban, say it wouldn’t stop flow of guns into the country

Ottawa Citizen – Bruce Deachman
Pride: ‘This ain’t no Golden Jubilee!’ — 1969, the anger and the myths

In 1969 Canada revised the Criminal Code to address the then-illegal status for homosexuals.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision but also a continuing dissatisfaction by the LGBTQ community.  Ottawa artist and activist Ryan Conrad points out the changes do not have their origin in a doctrine of equality but political expediency:  “But homosexuality was not decriminalized in 1969, and the arrest rates after 1969 went up. So to me it’s ludicrous, and insulting to all those who were arrested after 1969, to claim that homosexuality was decriminalized then. People’s lives were ruined, people were imprisoned, people killed themselves, and a lot of people who died from HIV/AIDS aren’t here to correct the record.”