April 19, 2020

By-Line Times (UK) – Duncan Campbell

The Coronavirus Crisis

Will Our COVID-19 Lockdown Make Us think more about Why We Imprison So Many People?

Much of our legal system is currently struggling with issues such as whether a jail term is also a death sentence as the infections from Coronavirus in prisons grows and swells the death toll.  Campbell is asking quite pointedly if the crisis will energize a re-think of the purpose of imprisonment.  He explores the origin and meaning of ‘lockdown’ and stir crazy and invites a consideration of human rights.  “Could the realisation that being unable to move and mix freely can be a grim and testing experience lead to a world in which people examine whether locking up – or locking down – individuals for years and years is something that should only ever be done as a last resort?”   Related article: Delaware-on-line (US) – Rabbi Yair D. Robinson   Prisoners deserve help, including masks and early release, to avoid COVID-19 (Opinion)   Related article: Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno Lee Chapelle spent years in prison. He has a few lessons on dealing with a solitary existence   Related article: Toronto Star – Jim Rankin and Alyshah Hasham   Amid COVID-19, inmates are leaving Toronto South jail to grim prospects with less help  Related article: Toronto Star – Shree Paradkar    Canada needs its migrant workers — but in this pandemic we can’t be bothered to value them

BC First Nations Justice Council – Leadership
COVID-19 in prisons stands to be a death sentence for overincarcerated Indigenous peoples

The link is to a press release seeking relief of both the threat of Coronavirus to the already over-incarcerated Indigenous people and a cry for change to the disproportionate representation.  The release speaks of eight immediate steps to relieve the current threats and the on-going injustice.

Vimeo Productions (US): Fritzi Horstman
Step inside the circle…

The link is a program underway in some of the most secure California prisons and is aimed at combatting shame of having suffered childhood abuse by creating a safe space to acknowledge the personal history.  Just under 7 minutes (and unashamedly asking for financial support), the video has a moving content that again raises into sharp focus why we imprison our most vulnerable people for being just that.  “Unaddressed childhood trauma changes how we respond to the world and when triggered, we make choices that sometimes have devastating consequences including domestic violence, addiction, murder and prison. “   Web site:

Justice Policy Institute (US)
Selection of news and resources on coronavirus in jails and prisons – States deal with highly vulnerable population differently

This link is to a new resource being developed at the Institute around the impact of Covid-19 on prisons across the various federal and state jurisdictions.  JPI offers a listing of resources and other links with current information about both adult and juvenile populations.  The link should be helpful to anyone seeking to be informed on the various actions and re-actions in face of the threats.  Related article:  CTV News – Jim Bronskill   Ailing federal prisoner to be released after heading to court over COVID-19 fear   Related article: The Intercept – Liliana Segura    As Virus Spreads in Federal Prisons, People Inside Describe Chaos, While Families Are Left in the Dark   Related article: BC Tyee – Michael Harris  In Canada’s Prisons, Virus Spread Is a Human Rights Issue  ‘The minister needs to act now’ to avert disaster, urges Sen. Kim Pate.

iPolitics – Tim Naumetz
Trudeau cabinet adds U.S. border patrol, customs and immigration officers to firearms exemption list

The Trudeau government has quietly renewed and Canada-US agreement that permits US law enforcement to carry weapons in each other’s territory.  The agreement also appears to expand the definition of who is a federal law enforcement person. Zarah Malik, a spokesperson for the Public Safety department, said: “The firearms exemption only authorizes U.S. enforcement personnel from listed agencies to transit through Canada from one U.S. duty station to another U.S. duty station using the most direct and expeditious route possible.”

Lawyer’s Daily (Canadian) – Amanda Jerome
14-month post-verdict delay due to lack of Gladue reports ‘unreasonable,’ court rules

The Gladue report refers to a consideration in the sentencing of Aboriginal persons to require that the personal cultural history be considered.  Normally done between conviction and sentencing the requirement was falling in disuse and delay, prompting an effort for a current assessment.  The typical wait of 14 months for the report is not good enough says the court.

CBC News – Evan Dyer
From pipe dream to prospect: the pandemic is making a case for a universal basic income

Increasingly the inequities and deprivations of our life together are making us more and more conscious that we cannot sustain those inequities nor go back to paying those who now rescue us, mostly hourly and part time workers, wages below fairness.  There appears to be a popular and growing insistence that guaranteed annual income or universal basic income is a way to redress the inequities.  It would also be a way to redesign our relationships and expand our caring for one another in crisis.  Says Floyd Marinescu, CEO of software learning company C4Media and a founder of the basic income lobby group UBI Works “Six million Canadians have been suddenly thrust into what is effectively a basic income program and they’re seeing that it works for what it’s meant to do — something to fall back on and give you time to figure out what you’re going to do next in a way that’s more dignified and avoids the stigma and inefficiencies of applying for social assistance.”   Related article: The Economist – Mark Carney  The world after covid-19 – By invitation: Mark Carney on how the economy must yield to human values  In recent years, the market economy has become the market society. The virus could reverse that trend