Still delays…

Jan 3, 2020

Toronto Star Editorial (Jan 2, 2020)
The Ford government should invest in Ontario’s outmoded courts

The editorial recalls the effort by the Supreme Court to prompt additional resources to lower courts by establishing time frames within which trails must be held or dismissed: 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior courts.  Now, Ontario’s auditor general is drawing attention to the failure on the part of Ontario’s government to correct the situation.  The delays apply to both criminal and family court cases.  Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says the courts are still doing business using outdated and inefficient technology.

National Post – Parker Donham
Opinion: The driver who killed the Humboldt Broncos received too harsh a sentence – Drivers who have been plastered drunk, killed multiple innocents, expressed no remorse and fought the charges all the way have received much lighter sentences

The link is to an opinion piece that invites us to reflect on the basis for severe sentences. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was the driver of the truck that collided with the Humbolt Broncos bus on April 6, 2018.  Consequently, he refused all defence and all rationale for mitigating sentence but received a severe sentence that will continue in likely deportation once released. Donham believes that the victim impact statements may have played unfairly in the sentencing.  “(Judge Inez) Cardinal sentenced Sidhu to eight years in prison, the longest sentence in Canadian history for dangerous driving causing death. Drivers who have been plastered drunk, killed multiple innocents, expressed no remorse, and fought the charges all the way, have invariably received much lighter sentences…A devastated defendant, believing he deserved terrible punishment, said nothing in his defence, but placed himself at the mercy of the court. In response, the court skewed toward vengeance.”

  National Post – Kim Bellware, Washington Post
An entire class of U.S. guard trainees was fired after they performed a Nazi salute in their graduation photo

What happens when the trainers lose the moral and professional expectations in the process of training personnel as corrections officers?  The answer appears to be that the entire class of officers offer a Nazi salute to the instructor. “…the Nazi salute originated with a cadet who encouraged classmates to use it “as a sign of respect for Byrd,” a reference to instructor Karrie Byrd.”  The Governor of West Virginia fired the entire class and several instructors.

Government of Canada – Horizons, June 20, 2019
The Future of Work: Five Game Changers

Though somewhat dated, this report may be appropriate for the New Year in that it offers five significant changes facing the work force in Canada: Long term and Time based to Short term and Task based; AI and automation; jobless growth in the knowledge industries; combined digital technology with less human intermediaries; where people work and earn living and working may occur in places other than where people live and spend.   Related article: Citizens for Public Justice (Canada) – Infographic: Guaranteed Livable Income in Canada  Cf also Basic Income Canada

Globe and Mail – Lisa Kerr and Paul Quick
How can prisoners be rehabilitated without proper access to education?

The authors start with an acknowledgement that most inmates in prison are poorly educated – only 25% have a high school education – and that the lack of education when released from prison simply serves to increase the obstacles to employment and rehabilitation.  The self-evident truth makes the reluctance to provide education a fundamental inadequacy of the prison system.  “Canada does have one excellent program, Walls to Bridges, that offers for-credit courses taught by university professors at a handful of prisons – but access and course offerings remain very limited…the system stands in the way of the personal transformation that at least some inmates are hungry for. As the federal Office of the Correctional Investigator put it in a 2016 report: “It’s hard to understand how an environment deprived of computers and Internet, and thereby deprived of information, can be rehabilitative.”

Equal Justice Initiative (US)
Death Penalty Decline Continued in 2019

New Hampshire becomes the 21st state to abolish the death penalty and 2019 marks a continuing decline in both executions (22 deaths) and death sentences (33 new).  “Of the 65 scheduled execution dates set in 2019, nearly two-thirds (66%) did not go forward, including at least two that were halted by courts after evidence of innocence was submitted. But two people were executed this year despite substantial doubts about their guilt, DPIC reports, and four innocent men were released after decades in prison.”   Cf also The Death Penalty Information Center The Death Penalty in 2019: Year End Report   Related article: The Atlantic – Chris Feliciano Arnold   The Dying American Prisoner – Incarcerated people who are dying can apply for “compassionate release” in some states—but very few of them get it. This is the story of one who did.   Related article: Death Penalty Information Center – Law Review (US) – New Article Highlights Decline of Judicial Death Sentences

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)

Webster presents a study from British Criminology by a host of authors about what the long term impact is for those who have an encounter with the justice system.  In a longitudinal study of twins the authors conclude that punishment contribute to delinquency rather than averts the undesired behaviour.   “What impact does formal punishment have on antisocial conduct—does it deter or promote it? The findings from a long line of research on the labeling tradition indicate formal punishments have the opposite-of-intended consequence of promoting future misbehavior.”  Abstract and article:

Canada’s Parole Board…
March 31, 2020 Record Suspension Application Fee Increase (Service Fees Act)

While many advocates wait for the promised changes to parole regulations and the restoration of real pardons, the board itself has decided that it needs $13.88 more to process applications for record suspensions.  The increase is mandatory and in keeping with annual inflation increases; it is required under the Service Fees Act.  “Effective March 31, 2020, the record suspension application fee will increase to $644.88.”  (Presently at $631)