May 8, 2020

Policy Options – Jude McCulloch and JaneMaree Maher
The Intimate Connection between Mass Shootings and Violence against Women – The Nova Scotia attacks began with domestic violence. It fits a pattern that police, policy-makers and researchers have to stop ignoring.

 First the authors suggest that there is a long entrenched notion that violence against women is less serious than other types of violence; it is downplayed by the policy makers and players.  Second, “the failure to acknowledge the connection between male violence against women and mass casualty attacks influences the security of everybody. It undermines society’s ability to better understand, prevent and effectively respond to these attacks. There is a connection between male violence against women and mass casualty attacks and it is overlooked or downplayed by policy-makers, police and researchers. There are potentially lethal implications when these connections are not addressed.”

 Elizabeth Fry Society
EFry Week 2020: Build Communities, Not Prisons

This is EF week and most timely in that the Coronavirus reality confronting us but evident forever is that women bear a disproportionate amount of pretty well all gender burdensome tasks but especially in treatment from the justice system.  This year’s theme – Build communities, not prisons – is most appropriate:  “This is also a time to imagine what a thriving community may look like when we emerge from the current pandemic. This crisis has exposed serious flaws and gaps our existing systems. It has become glaringly obvious that we need to create a new way of operating- one that reflects the vital lessons we have been learning about how we are all able to contribute to collective safety and care.”  This year’s theme also asks people to respond to a dream of a world without prisons.   Related article Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEF) Press Release (May 7, 2020) :  Former Correctional Officer at the Nova Institution for Women Arrested on Charges of Sexual Assault Against Prisoners

 Homeless Hub (Canada) – David French, Mary-Jane McKitterick, Amanda Buchnea
Summary Report: Youth Homelessness & COVID19 – How the Youth-Serving Sector is Coping with the Crisis

The link is first a timely reminder that the needs of youth in the Coronavirus crisis are significantly different that adults, especially as social distancing is necessary for many clients.  The participants in the report came from 10 provinces and 60 different youth serving agencies.  The report has bar graphics illustrating their results to identifying the challenges, especially around eviction, funding, community response and sector collaboration.  There are also reports on the web page link on other groups coping with homelessness in the virus.   Full report (15 page downloadable pdf)

Walrus Magazine – Max Fawcett
How Universal Basic Income Will Save the Economy – Until recently, the idea lived on the political margins. Then the pandemic changed everything.

The activity of the federal government to support people and the economy has moved the notion of a universal basic income (UBI) to the front burner again, perhaps because what government has done is essentially a version of the UBI.  The need for income for so many marginalized people then begs the question about what to do when the virus goes away, perhaps resurges.  What is decidedly new is that high profile Conservatives are embracing the strategy.  A former Conservative advisor to Stephen Harper says:  “While it pains me as a conservative to suggest this,” Ken Boessenkool wrote in a Globe and Mail op-ed, “the government should consider adding another $27-billion dollar expenditure for a Crisis Basic Income as a supplement to what has been announced.”  Related article:  Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce  (RSA) (UK) – Anthony Painter   The case for Universal Basic Income after Covid-19 – In recent weeks, Basic Income has made strides from far-fetched idea to reality.

MSNBC (US) – Janet McConnaughey
Nearly entire Louisiana prison dorm tests positive for virus

Experts have been saying for some time that prisons are like petri dishes for the Coronavirus.  This women’s wing of the Louisiana prison is a case in point, though not the only one.  In Elayn Hunt Correctional Center an astounding 192 of a total of 195 women and a further 41 staffers tested positive for the virus.   Related article: Columbus Dispatch –  John Futty   Coronavirus: 27 employees, 14 youths test positive at Franklin County Detention Center   Related article: N.Y. Times – David Waldstein    To Fight Virus in Prisons, C.D.C. Suggests More Screenings   Related article: CBC News –  Laval inmate dies after contracting COVID-19 as Quebec prisons deal with outbreaks  Related article: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) – Large number of releases failure

 The Guardian (UK) – Laura Spinney
Coronavirus pushes us to protect the vulnerable. The real test is what happens next – Helping homeless people, prisoners and migrants only when it helps the rest of us is not good enough

This link is to a long read from the Guardian.  Many who have worked for a long time for a more just society and more fair treatment of one another have done so motivated by an innate sense that it constitutes the right thing to do morally and ethically.  Some have a commitment to human rights as the motive.  Spinney invites us to look at whether the self-interest deriving from the forcefully revealed social short falls from the Covid-19 epidemic is sufficient and worthy a motive to step up our efforts for equity.  She makes a distinction that the new awareness may prompt us to re-energize some of our more known but ignored deficiencies.   (Cf as well the related articles on the issue) Related article: Toronto Star – Patty Winsa   The proportion of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care was measured in 14 countries. Canada had the worst record

Prison Policy Initiatives (US) – Wendy Sawyer
How much do incarcerated people earn in each state? Prison wages come up again and again in the context of prison conditions and policies. So, we found the most up-to-date information for each state.

If you believe that mass incarceration needs us to follow the money and wee who profits from the practice, you may be interested in the wages given to prisoners for work performed in prison.  The report makes a difference between regular jobs and jobs that support prison industry activity.  The issue is at the heart of most reform minded activists who suggest that prison work is akin to slavery while many expenses are visited on the families of the imprisoned.  “One major surprise: prisons appear to be paying incarcerated people less today than they were in 2001… Incarcerated people assigned to work for state-owned businesses earn between 33 cents and $1.41 per hour on average – roughly twice as much as people assigned to regular prison jobs.”