April 27, 2020

CTV News – Colin Perkel
Federal prison tensions rise amid COVID lockdowns; activists want releases

The tensions created by the Coronavirus and the prisoners locked up without much defence is beginning to boil over in at least two federal prisons: Donnacona maximum security prison in Quebec and the medium security Collins Bay institution in Ontario.  Correction guards have used tear gas, rubber bullets and percussion grenades to quell prisoner unrest.  The news is coming not from Corrections Canada but from John Howard Society.  “Correctional authorities did not respond to a request for information on the reported incidents… Prison ombudsman, Ivan Zinger, refused to discuss the situation: “We are aware and we are investigating,” Zinger said in an email.”  The obvious implication is the failure to protect the prisoners from the virus and at once the failure to address the need to reduce prison population to prevent spread.  “”To date, nothing like that has been implemented,” said Sen. Kim Pate, who has been calling for immediate action since March 13.  “It’s very late… Correctional Service Canada said it was “conducting an analysis of the offender population” so it could make release recommendations.”  https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/federal-prison-tensions-rise-amid-covid-lockdowns-activists-want-releases-1.4908560?fbclid=IwAR1vX7QujmUD0IHdkjFbo1jREPVfUyIsR9p8OmmHiXifAjGHhSkwr1QGHOw   Related article: Anti-Carceral Group:  Today: Multi-City Caravan Against Imprisonment   https://www.facebook.com/events/620446565216500/   “The prison system in Canada disproportionately incarcerates Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, people living with mental illness, and people living in poverty.”)  Related article: HuffPost – Samantha Beattie  Inmate With Cancer Wins Prison Release During Pandemic. This Is His Story. – Derrick Snow is the only person released by Correctional Service Canada so far during the coronavirus crisis (April 24)   https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amp/entry/inmate-cancer-coronavirus-release-prison-jail_ca_5e96f83fc5b65eae709d0261/?__twitter_impression=true Related article: CBC News – Craig Desson   Canada’s prison watchdog calls out federal corrections for ‘extreme’ confinement as COVID-19 cases surge   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/canada-prison-conditions-covid-19-human-rights-1.5545303  Related article: Correctional Services Canada (April 25) – Statement on Mission Institution, a federal correctional facility in British Columbia   https://www.canada.ca/en/correctional-service/news/2020/04/statement-on-mission-institution-a-federal-correctional-facility-in-british-columbia.html Related article:  Update on Coronavirus from the Office of the Correctional Investigator (April 23 – 9 page downloadable PDF)  https://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/pdf/oth-aut/oth-aut20200423-eng.pdf

Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General
Final Report of the Independent Reviewer on the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Compliance with the 2013 “Jahn Settlement Agreement” and the Terms of the Consent Order of January 16, 2018 Issued by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

This long awaited report is a conclusion about how well the Ontario government and Ministry of Corrections has done relative to the Jahn ruling (2013) which required that the Ministry adapt its practice of solitary confinement and the treatment of the mentally ill to standards dictated by Human Rights.  The chair Justice David P. Cole joined with Human Rights Expert Prof. Kelly Hannah-Moffat in concluding that  “…As of this date (January 31, 2020), it is my expert opinion that the ministry is not yet in full compliance with the requirements outlined in the Jahn settlement…. The ministry’s future plans for compliance with Jahn compliance are important and laudable, but do not replace the requirement for the schedule items to be implemented…in a timeframe that allows the Independent Reviewer and me to assess, which did not occur.”  The link to the full report also offers excellent statistical information about jails and prisons, capacity, age, etc.  https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/JahnSettlement/FinalReportIndependentReviewer.html

The Marshall Project (US) – Katie Park, Tom Meagher and Weihua Li
Tracking the Spread of Coronavirus in Prisons – A new Marshall Project effort has collected data on the prevalence of COVID-19 among prisoners and prison staff.

The link offers a dynamic graph illustrating the growth of the virus as of April 23 – a total now of 6,694 cases across the US prison system;  over 9,437 have tested positive for the virus; 131 deaths; and the estimated rate of infection has more than tripled over the last week.  Even at this number, the authors are of the opinion that the numbers are understating the reality.  “But little is known about how many people have actually returned to life outside as a result of the policies prompted by the pandemic. Of those who have been released, we don’t know whether they’ve been tested before they left prison.”  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/04/24/tracking-the-spread-of-coronavirus-in-prisons?utm_source=The+Marshall+Project+Newsletter&utm_campaign=aa581d2c1c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_25_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e02cdad9d-aa581d2c1c-174566415   Related article: Marshall Project / Life Inside  During the COVID-19 Crisis, Don’t Shoot the Messenger – When you lead the Inmate Liaison Committee in a pandemic, you have to deliver bad news with finesse.  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/04/24/during-the-covid-19-crisis-don-t-shoot-the-messenger?utm_source=The+Marshall+Project+Newsletter&utm_campaign=aa581d2c1c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_25_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e02cdad9d-aa581d2c1c-174566415

CBC News – Rasia Patel
Minister says COVID-19 is empowering domestic violence abusers as rates rise in parts of Canada

The notion of staying home as a remedy for Coronavirus is starting to betray other dangers, especially for domestic abuse which Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef says is rising in parts of Canada.  The problem is compounded with the shortages of shelter spaces in most of Canada.  Discussions initiated those shelter operators “uncovered a 20 to 30 per cent increase in rates of gender-based violence and domestic violence in some regions of the country, though data on where the uptick is occurring is not yet available.”  Even if there were silence from the victims, the operators say, the silence may simply mean the victims unable to report or call for help for whatever reason.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/domestic-violence-rates-rising-due-to-covid19-1.5545851

Toronto Star – Shree Paradkar
‘Ultimate authority. Ultimate power.’ What the Nova Scotia mass shooting tells us about toxic masculinity

The aftermath of the tragedy in Nova Scotia has surfaced some conditions that have long bothered activist against violence towards women.  Paradkar raises the mass murder influence of a toxic masculinity around uniforms, guns and power.  Judith Taylor, a professor in the Department of Sociology and in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, asks students to read articles after mass killings and look for common threads.  This toxic masculinity thread seems frequently part of the story.  “What’s fascinating is — and I see it over and over again — how often shooters try to enter the military or the police at one point or another. They’re drawn to having authority and using force.”  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2020/04/24/ultimate-authority-ultimate-power-what-the-nova-scotia-mass-shooting-tells-us-about-toxic-masculinity.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=thestar_recommended_for_you   Related article: The Coast – Jonathan Black  Call it by its name: Misogynist violence – Femicides disproportionately occur in non-urban areas in Canada—pretending that last weekend’s killings were a freak accident won’t stop it from happening again.  https://m.thecoast.ca/halifax/call-it-by-its-name-misogynist-violence/Content?oid=23948217

Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN) – Louise Leonardi

The link is to a reliable site working to assist families impacted adversely by imprisonment of a spouse.  In this time of stay-at-home virus, the site is trying to be helpful especially to the children and the extensive activity page may prove helpful for home activities.  As usual, their funding is stretched and could use a little refreshing.   https://www.cfcn-rcafd.org/resources-children