Aug 21, 2019

   VERA Institute for Justice (US) – S. Rebecca Neusteter, Ram Subramanian, Jennifer Trone, Mawia Khogali, and Cindy Reed
Gatekeepers: The Role of Police in Ending Mass Incarceration

The reform of the US justice system and the struggle with mass incarceration has, to date, mostly been focused on dealing with the aftermath of arrest and conviction.  Lawmakers are now tuning to the role of police in the process, especially since the police are often the initial point of initiation for arrest.  Whereas the options are relatively clear around people in jail – get them out – there is little consensus around what police are doing to be either part of the problem or part of the solution.  This 76 page pdf report from VERA (Aug. 2019) records some astounding facts to prompt the conversation.  As of 2017, says VERA, some 70 million Americans have been arrested at one time or another.  “Researchers looking at arrest data for the years 1997 to 2008 found that one out of three young adults—and nearly half of all black men—had an arrest record by age 23.”  Well beyond simply police culture, the report is part of a series on current concerns like incarceration of women, misuse of jails, rural jails. https://www.vera.org/publications/gatekeepers-police-and-mass-incarceration  Full pdf report:  https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/gatekeepers-police-and-mass-incarceration/legacy_downloads/gatekeepers-police-and-mass-incarceration.pdf     Related article: CBC News – Thomson Reuters   New York policeman fired for actions in death of Eric Garner   https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/nypd-officer-pantaleo-garner-1.5252013   Related article: CBC News – Associated Press    Acting head of prison agency removed in wake of Jeffrey Epstein death   https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/epstein-prison-death-suicide-director-reassigned-1.5252156

  The Appeal.com (US) – Sarah Lustbader
A good day for police accountability reveals the ‘us vs. them’ mentality rampant in law enforcement

The recent attempt by US Attorney General William Barr to confront the Epstein suicide in a federal prison by insisting on a tough-on-crime agenda for sentencing and policing has sparked a number of queries focused on policing as a contributory factor in mass incarceration.  The link offers a summary of recent incidents that suggest policing needs to be a factor in the prison reform and in the efforts to confront mass incarceration.  The link offers a number of other links on related items.  https://mailchi.mp/theappeal/daily-appeal-347099?e=5540d3cc3d  (ED note: The link offers access to a daily summary of justice comments which is free and well done.  Go to The Daily Appeal newsletter@theappeal.org )  Related article: CNN – Jason Hanna   Phoenix police must now document each time they point their gun at someone   https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/20/us/phoenix-police-policies-guns/index.html   Related article: Tallahassee Democrat (Florida) – James Call   Churches want police chief who supports restorative justice   https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2019/08/20/churches-want-police-chief-who-supports-restorative-justice/2051471001/   Related article: CBS News Philadelphia police head resigns over harassment and bias allegations in department  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/commissioner-richard-ross-resigns-today-philadelphia-police-department-sexual-harassment-bias-2019-08-20/

   Toronto Star – Susan Delacourte
Environmentalists could be on a collision course with Elections Canada

Following the warning issued by Elections Canada to advocates for the environment, the tensions have escalated considerably.  So says Elections Canada:  “But if the existence of climate change becomes an election issue, some charities will have to be very careful about what they say in any advertising. Otherwise, under new election advertising rules, they may be forced to register as “third parties” in the campaign, which could put their charitable status at risk.”  The issue raises a question about how to present climate change as a critical political issue in the coming election if even espousing climate change violates the norms established for charities.  The critics are advancing other scenarios whose political perspective may lead by this rationale to the same conclusion.  https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2019/08/19/environmentalists-could-be-on-a-collision-course-with-elections-canada.html  Related article: Toronto Star – Tanya Talaga   Holding Back the River   http://projects.thestar.com/climate-change-canada/ontario-eco-anxiety/   Related article: Toronto Star – Alex Ballingall   Environment minister says election shouldn’t limit climate-change discussion   https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2019/08/20/environment-minister-says-election-shouldnt-limit-climate-change-discussion.html   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Aug. 20, 2019)  Don’t muzzle environmentalists   https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/08/20/dont-muzzle-environmentalists.html

  CBC News – Jessica Deer
Federal Court approves Indian day schools class-action settlement

The reconciliation with Indigenous people who were abused in day schools follows the residential schools.  Estimates are that about 140,000 people are eligible for a settlement between $10,000 and $200,000.  Some First Nations have withheld their participation on the grounds that the settlement is about cheap closure rather than real reconciliation.  The settlement process is expected to run for about two years.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indian-day-school-settlement-court-approves-1.5252211

  CBC News –Matthew Pearson
Ottawa lawyer seeks redress for ‘cruel’ victim surcharge

The victim surcharge has been in place for some time – a fine added to the penalty for a conviction and calculated to help victims recover from crime.  The Supreme Court of Canada last December described the mandatory victim surcharge as “cruel and unusual punishment”  on the grounds that many people coming before the courts were just too poor to pay, “a tax on broken souls,” said another judge.   Defence lawyer Michael Spratt of Ottawa is calling for restitution of the paid surcharges and cancellation of those still owing.  https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5226312?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar&__twitter_impression=true

  The Marshall Project – Michael Rothenberg
The Federal Prisoner Transit System—aka “Diesel Therapy”—Is Hell

In the federal prison system, inmates are subject to transfer from one facility to another on someone’s whim, it appears.  This article is a first-hand experience describing a capricious system and its added ordeals, illuminating the current controversies around the Epstein suicide as well as the inherent problem in distance for family contact, even when the family knows where the inmate can be found.    https://www.themarshallproject.org/2019/08/15/the-federal-prisoner-transit-system-aka-diesel-therapy-is-hell?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=twitter   (The Federal Register – for official federal government notices –  is announcing a survey on prisoner movement on behalf the Federal Bureau of Prisons:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/19/2019-17748/agency-information-collection-activities-proposed-ecollection-ecomments-requested-extension-with )

  CNN – Geneva Sands and Sam Fossum
Trump administration to allow longer detention of migrant families

The Flores Agreement was the basis of a recent outright rejection of the federal government’s claims on what constituted safety and sanitary conditions for children in immigration detention.  The Trump government is now reacting to another requirement that children are only held for 20 days and then must be released.  The new rule now says that children can be held in indefinite family detention, closing what the Trump government sees as the potential motivation of parents to accept the 20 day detention and then release of the children in the United States.  Critics are certain that the rule will be challenged in court, and hopefully before it can take impact.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/21/politics/immigration-family-detention-flores/index.html