March 4, 2020

OPCAT and Office of the Correctional Investigator (Corrections Canada)
The Argument for External Oversight of Federal Prisons – The New OCI Annual Report

The Correctional Investigator is again urging the adoption of external oversight of Canada’s federal prisons.  The measure was declared mandatory four years ago as part of the Optional Protocol U.N. Convention against Torture (OPCAT) but has yet to be adopted in spite of repeated urgings by a variety of prison advocates, including Dr. Ivan Zinger, Canada’s Correctional Investigator and a considerable number of both national and international experts.  Adopting the protocol would mean that the external oversight group would have the right to visit all facilities in the federal system. https://canadaopcatproject.ca/2020/03/01/new-oci-annual-report/   Link to the OPCAT Webpage:   https://canadaopcatproject.ca/  Link to the 2017-18 OCI Annual Report   https://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/pdf/annrpt/annrpt20172018-eng.pdf   Related article: The Conversation – Sarah Speight   https://theconversation.com/canadian-penitentiaries-dangerous-for-aging-and-palliative-prisoners-132155  (Ed note: Link includes a review of violence directed at inmates.)   Related article: Chronicle Herald (Halifax) – Martha  Paynter   Prisons petri dishes for coronavirus   https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/local-perspectives/martha-paynter-prisons-petri-dishes-for-coronavirus-418686/#.Xl-qgPsxoUY.twitter

CBC News – Colin Perkel, Canadian Press
Creation of wrongful conviction review board edging closer to reality

Current stats – somewhat in dispute – are that .07% of convictions in Canada are wrongful.  These cases would be determined by having been referred back to the courts after conviction and many advocates would insist that the actual number of innocent is much larger.  In any event, Attorney General David Lametti is meeting with notables from the wrongful conviction advocates to determine how to better address the potential for wrongful conviction.  Include are David Milgaard and James Lockyer.  The suggestion is for a panel as found in other countries but so far just consideration.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ont-wrongful-convictions-1.5481608  Related article: Washington Post (US) – Jeffrey Stein   How to make an innocent client plead guilty: The Plea Bargain Trap   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-innocent-people-plead-guilty/2018/01/12/e05d262c-b805-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html#click=https://t.co/Kqr8qh7fWL

CTV News – Chris Fox
Chicago’s mayor advocates for treating gun violence as ‘public health crisis’ following meeting with Tory at city hall

Toronto Mayor John Tory and Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot are agreed.  Both cities have problems with an abundance of handguns and murders and both mayors have agreed to treat the problem of gun violence as a public health issue.  “Clearly law enforcement continues to play a role but we have also brought our parks, our schools, our libraries and we have leaned heavily into the faith community and community-based organizations to help us look at what are the challenges the communities are facing and how we use the resources and the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to focus like a laser beam on those communities that are most in need.” https://beta.ctvnews.ca/local/toronto/2020/3/2/1_4835911.html

Herald-Standard (Alabama, US)
2 sheriffs seek voter OK to use inmate food money elsewhere

Who could invent this stuff?  Alabama has long allowed local sheriffs and jailers to keep the excess money from the jail food costs.  In fact, in several cases exposed already, the culprits have been found to have done nothing illegal in diverting tax dollars to personal expenses.  The local sheriffs want a law to permit the use of excess funds for school resource officers.  No one appears to be thinking about how the excess is accumulated at this point. https://www.heraldstandard.com/news/state/sheriffs-seek-voter-ok-to-use-inmate-food-money-elsewhere/article_4b314ee8-d571-533b-b50e-a6c16a9b5bef.html

CBC News – Aaron Saltzman
‘She wanted to do that for me’: Woman with power of attorney takes thousands from 97-year-old with dementia

Elder abuse rarely comes to the surface but this case illustrates problems that vitiate their arrival to the attention of the law.  It would seem that the Power of Attorney once given is fraught with legal problems of establishing the permissible parameters of the power transferred.  “A power of attorney gives someone the right to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to take care of matters yourself. In many cases, they have near unfettered access to your finances.”   Often fraud or criminal misconduct charges do not endure because the victim is not able to participate.  Equally often the perp is a relative.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/power-of-attorney-seniors-elder-abuse-senior-financial-crime-1.5476820?cmp=newsletter_CBC%20News%20Morning%20Brief_676_2691

US Bureau of Prisons
Mortality in State and Federal Prisons, 2001-2016 – Statistical Tables

This table, and several others that provide similar information for local jails, offers statistical information around the death of inmates.  Additionally, the link offers stats on a variety of other federal and state practices such as the rate of imprisonment, the crime rate, the annual jail report.  The link includes information about tribal crime data as well.  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOJOJP_COMMS/bulletins/27eca5d

Toronto Star – Jim Rankin
Race was a factor when police handcuffed 6-year-old Black girl at Mississauga school, human rights tribunal finds

This is a strange story to have gotten as far as the Human Rights Tribunal – was there no common sense adult from the start?  “While Peel Consts. Nick Eckley and Slav Kosaver were “professional and polite” while trying to control the girl nearly four years ago, their decision to place her on her stomach for 28 minutes with both her wrists and ankles handcuffed was “a clear overreaction in the circumstances,” adjudicator Brenda Bowlby wrote in her decision, dated February 24.”  The decision took four years to establish that police encounters with Blacks, even at 6 years of age, are riddled with racism.  The hearing now moves to remedies.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/03/race-was-a-factor-when-police-handcuffed-6-year-old-black-girl-at-mississauga-grade-school-human-rights-tribunal-finds.html

Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten
Did free cash drive people to quit work? Not according to a new study of Ontario’s basic income experiment

One of the first cancellations of the Ontario Ford government was the experiment underway for basic income.  Five cities were set up to study the implications and impact of adding to welfare payments and arriving at a version of basic income.  One of the assumptions by opponents was that basic income would prompt recipients to quit jobs and be satisfied with the new and improved welfare.  Not so says a new report and further, the added income led to higher paying and more secure jobs.  The report also raises issue with the Ford government claim that the project was already failing. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/04/did-free-cash-drive-people-to-quit-work-not-according-to-a-new-study-of-ontarios-basic-income-experiment.html

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Toronto judge used man’s presence at own sex assault trial against him, Court of Appeal finds

Legal issues around sexual assault continue in both the courtroom and the training of judges.  The Appeal Court has criticized a lower court ruling that determined as a factor in the conviction that a defendant in the sexual assault trial shaped his defence to the contours of the victim’s testimony.  The Crown acknowledged there was no allegation of fabrication of the defendant’s defence.  The victim in this case failed to immediately identify the sexual encounter as an assault and created a credibility problem.  “The fact that the complainant did not immediately, when confronted, tell her husband that she had been assaulted and did so only after they had returned home, in response to his repeated entreaties, was relevant to whether she had a motive to fabricate, and ultimately to her credibility,” the appeal court said.”   https://www.thestar.com/amp/news/gta/2020/03/02/toronto-judge-used-mans-presence-at-own-sex-assault-trial-against-him-court-of-appeal-finds.html?__twitter_impression=true   Related article:  Teresa Wright, Canadian Press   Liberals revive Rona Ambrose’s bill on sexual assault law training for judges   https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2020/02/04/liberals-revive-rona-ambroses-bill-on-sexual-assault-law-training-for-judges.html

Lawyer’s Daily – Cristin Schmitz
Military judges rule they can’t be disciplined by chain of command, only by military appeal court

The Canadian Military justice system is relatively small but has been struggling for some time with issues.  The latest is the role of the chain of command in judicial decisions and direction.  The judges – five of them – say only a military appeal court has any place in the process.  The judges are responding to a Chief of Defence Staff memo “which purports to place military judges under the disciplinary authority of the military’s chain of command.” https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/17995/military-judges-rule-they-can-t-be-disciplined-by-chain-of-command-only-by-military-appeal-court-?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal