Defunding punishment…

June 22, 2020 

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
If we defund the police, will we need fewer jails and prisons?

As the demand for defunding police gets louder, critics are also wondering about defunding prisons and what the net gain may be for other social outreach in the event that both get reduced budgets in the near future.  Even after almost 100 days of the Covid-19 financial panic and response there appears relatively little about what is needed for on-going post virus social and financial goals, as well as the implications for the uses of prisons and jails.  “The decrease in jail numbers was due to a combination of factors, including more people being granted bail, suspending weekend sentences, delayed sentencing hearings involving custodial sentences, fewer arrests and early releases.”  Says Justin Piché, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa. “What are we doing taking people who are living safely among us during the week and sending them behind bars on the weekend?”  Related article: The Gothamist (NY) – David Cruz Council Members To Subpoena Health Department Over Never-Released 2017 Police-Involved Deaths Draft Report

Washington Post – Caitlin Gibson
What five black fathers are saying to their children about this historic moment

Gibson asked five Black fathers to speak to what they are telling their children about the current historic moment and the racial tensions of the moment, as well as how best to cope with those tensions.  There are repeated sobering messages in the light of Father’s Day and the link serves as a cautionary tale while inviting realization of the fears of Black families in a racist environment.

Forbes – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
5 Economists Redefining… Everything. Oh Yes, And They’re Women

The economic future once the Covid-19 is gone is beginning to take shape now.  Wittenberg-Cox is presenting five women economists who are asking new questions about traditional economic ideas and asking for a definition in favour of people vs abstractions.  The five noted have specific contributions to the new reality:  Esther Duflo, Stephanie Kelton, Mariana Mazzucato, Carlota Perez and Kate Raworth.  Says Wittenberg-Cox:  “When women finally make it to the pinnacle of many professions, they often discover a world more wart-covered frog than handsome prince. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, when they get a glimpse behind the curtain, they discover the machinery of power can be more bluster than substance.–oh-yes-and-theyre-women/amp/?__twitter_impression=true   Related article: Toronto Star – Tara Deschamps   Canadians working from home permanently should expect salary changes, experts say   Related article: Armine Yalnizyan tweets about “capitalist bullying” of workers:  Also  Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Reuters  Canada to overhaul foreign worker program after farm coronavirus outbreaks  Related article: Public Policy Forum – Dr. Wendy Cukier and Pedro Barata   Getting the Future of work right in unprecedented times.   Related article: CBC News –Mark Gollom  4-day work week with fewer hours, same pay could become a reality in some workplaces post-COVID-19

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
The Realities of Prison Life

This week, Webster is reporting on the new publication by a woman who served time in two UK prisons for women.  “Breakfast at Bronzefield” by Sophie Campbell is just published and Webster thinks the experience is reflecting some good critical analysis.  Campbell – not her real name – has a list of 10 comments on her experience.   Related article: Independent (UK) – Louise Tickle Two babies have died in a prison cell as women in jail are refused basic medical care   Related article: HuffPost (US) – Robert Barton   I’ve Been In Prison For 24 Years. Now My Son Is Incarcerated Here, Too.  This is what I want my son to know this Father’s Day.

 CBC News –
Family identifies man, 62, who was shot and killed by police in Mississauga as SIU investigates – Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, who family members say suffered from schizophrenia, died in his apartment on Saturday

Still again!  Police called to well-being check on an elderly man shoot him.  Choudry was alone and had barricaded himself in his apartment, armed with a knife.  Family members were incredulous over the police action:  “You’re telling me a 62-year-old man … who can barely breathe to begin with is going to run and attack you?”  (Link includes a video.)  Related article: National Post – Canadian Press   Family of 62-year-old schizophrenic man who died during police shooting call for inquiry   Related article: Toronto Star – Kieran Leavitt  Two Métis men went hunting and never came home. Why their killings led to assumptions about racism

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Canada ‘over-criminalizing’ poor, Indigenous and substance users who violate bail conditions, Supreme Court says

While much of the reform around the criminal legal system is focused for the moment on the conduct of police towards minorities, Fine is making it clear that there are other areas that equally need attention.  The Supreme Court has ruled that the bail system is equally offensive to the marginalized.  “The ruling, which comes amid criticism of the criminal-justice system’s treatment of racialized minorities and Indigenous peoples, is the Supreme Court’s latest attempt to overhaul a bail process it says has devastating effects on marginalized individuals and weighs down an overburdened criminal-justice system.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Wanyee Li  Racism against Chinese-Canadians now commonplace during pandemic, survey finds   Related article: CBC News – Maryse Zeidler   New poll reveals Chinese-Canadians’ experiences with racism

The Marshall Project – Julia Preston
The True Costs of Deportation

If nothing else the Covid-19 virus has taught us about who are essential workers and how they are treated in our society.  Preston outlines the cost of deportation of immigrant family members not in government dollars but in personal and social destructiveness.  She describes three families impacted by the deportation of a loved one and then “who faced financial ruin, mental health crises—and even death.”  “The Center for Migration Studies found that just under 6.1 million American citizen children live in households with at least one undocumented family member vulnerable to deportation—and household incomes drop by nearly half after deportation.”