Feb 13, 2020

iPolitics – Tim Naumetz
Trudeau statement on Canadian gun law sparks Conservative outrage in Commons

Political posturing by both Liberal and Conservative governments has now taken over the issues around gun control.  Prompted by the proposal of ‘red flag laws,’ the Liberals want police authority to seize guns and suspend licenses for gun owners who are risk to themselves or others.  Conservatives are saying police already have that authority.  In the meantime, both appear silent on the control of handguns.

Washington Post (US)
986 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year

This link offers an extraordinary data bank that lists every single person killed by police since the bank began in 2015.  You may suspect: a steady total of around 1,000 persons per year, numerically more whites; proportionally three times as many Blacks as whites, twice as many Hispanics; most shootings occur in large cities but three states are proportionally highest:  New Mexico has the highest rate at 49 per 1 million population, followed by Alaska and Oklahoma.  The link provides access to the database, a state by state statistical reporting, and other stats around gun violence by police.

The Marshall Project – Maurice Chammah
They Went to Jail. Then They Say They Were Strapped to a Chair for Days. Allegations in a Missouri lawsuit shed light on how some jail officials use restraint chairs, which have been linked to dozens of deaths.

This is a different chair than prisons used to talk about.  This one is allegedly a “restraint” chair for drunks and people suffering with mental health problems. “…these devices—which allow jailers to cuff or strap someone down by their arms and legs, and sometimes shoulders and torsos—can be helpful in stopping them from harming themselves or others.”  About 20 deaths in the last six years have been attributed to prolonged use of the chair and the forced inactivity.

Prisoner’s Education Trust (UK)
2019’s top ten distance learning courses revealed

There are far more than ten but these ten are the popular by enrollment.  “In total, we funded 281 students to start an Open University Access Module in 2019, giving them the chance to try out degree-level study. With three different modules on offer, the People, Work and Society module again proved most popular, with 17 more students taking the module than in 2018.”  Second in popularity is Open University Science, Technology and Maths Access module and third, Business Start-up.  The link offers the entire list of courses available.  Some courses also provide certificates for completion.

Vox (US) – Aaron Rupar
Trump is running on criminal justice reform but just praised China’s execution of drug dealers – “States with a very powerful death penalty on drug dealers don’t have a drug problem,” the president claimed, falsely.

This is another lie – the deterrence effect of the death penalty – but is also startling headline in the middle of an enormous drug culture and an opiate death rate that scarcely leaves anyone’s family untouched in its dimensions.  Trump has supported efforts to reduce the number of prisoners, and even pardoned some sentenced to LWOP for drug crimes.  This proclamation may simply indicate how unstable the political and social environment that Trump promotes.

CBC News – Chantelle Bellrichard and Jorge Barrera
What you need to know about the Coastal GasLink pipeline conflict

As the tensions begin to heighten in the confrontation between the RCMP and the people of Wet’suwet’en territory, and as that confrontation is prompting supportive protests across Canada, it may be helpful to look at the parameters of what is quickly becoming a no-win situation that is re-surfacing all the worst memories of colonialism.  The link provides an assessment of the current stand-off and the beginning of RCMP enforcement of court orders.  The link also provides a calendar journal of events compounding the situation and a list of other helpful articles.  Related article: Toronto Star – Alex Ballingall  ‘Reconciliation is dead and we will shut down Canada,’ Wet’suwet’en supporters say   Related article: Toronto Star –   Alex McKeen and Joanna Chiu   Inside a protest movement: How climate activists are taking Wet’suwet’en fight from B.C. to Yonge Street

Hill Times – Mike Lapointe
Parole officers still floundering from Harper budget cuts, says union head supporting Tory parole board motion

A decision to parole a federal inmate who murdered 22-year-old Marylène Lévesque last month is raising considerable issue around parole and its exercise by CSC in Canada’s Parliament.  The decision is also prompting a discussion about the government’s funding of the services after sizeable cuts from the former Harper government and after Liberal promised reform of the more draconian practices, but promises without adequate funding that resulted in appreciable increases in case-loads.

New Book (US)
 We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure Just and Inclusive Communities
by Zach Norris (Beacon Press: Boston, MA 2020)

This book is a helpful perspective on how RJ at the base of justice and community relations could in fact support the struggles with racism, poverty, sexual violence and housing.  Norris is CEO of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and gives a new understanding of public safety by redefining and including a notion of what makes us publicly secure.  His insights and commentary can help anyone who wants to see how language, family support, and relationship can alter the normalized perspective of punishment and prison as the first, and perhaps only, recourse.  The failures of the current approach no longer allow “the justice system” any claim on truth.  Norris suggests it is the ‘criminal legal system’ as he points out the shortcomings, particularly the systemic failure to address the harms both created and sustained by its current practice.  Several chapters include summary lists of recommendations for the major harms that Norris thinks could replace the debilitating punishment model with a model that builds bonding, trust and what he calls ‘agency.’  (Available through Amazon Books at $31.27 CDN for the hardcover.)