Short sentencing…

June 27, 2020

Re-Inventing Criminal Justice: The Twelfth National Symposium

Held in January 24-25, 2020 in Montreal, QC, the final report is now available.  The report is entitled National Criminal Justice Symposium 2020 – Alternatives to Short-Term Custody.  The report is a short 24 page downloadable pdf with an executive summary that includes nine recommendations on short sentences.  “In Canada, short-term custody is the typical custodial experience. The median length of custody for all offences in Canada in 2014/15 was 30 days, and 81% of the custodial sentences were six months or less. Research continues to accumulate concerning the disruptive effect of short terms of incarceration on employment, housing, medical treatment regimes, and family life, effects which are then felt repeatedly in communities as many offenders move through “the revolving door.” Meanwhile, the short duration of the typical jail sentence means that the window afforded departments of corrections for effective needs-based offender programming is far shorter than may be required.”

CBC News – Heather Hiscocks
Q&A: 2 Canadian police chiefs talk about George Floyd, defunding the police and structural change

Readers confused about what progressive policing would dictate in trouble times like these may appreciate hearing from these two distinguished practionners: Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly and Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee, both known for their community support approach to policing.  Their conversation, dated some two weeks ago, remains pertinent to the current discussion of defunding or disbanding police.   Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Simone Weichselbaum and Jamiles Lartey    What Are Cops Really Thinking When Routine Arrests Turn Violent? “You have to use a lot of force, or you are going to die.”  Related article: Blogger Pam Palmater  – Defund the Police  (A 15 minute YouTube video)  Related article: The New Yorker – Alexis Okeowo  How the Police Could Be Defunded  Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   ‘Why did you shoot me?’ A Black Mississauga mother seeks answers from Peel police  Related article: Toronto Star – Jessica Cheung  Toronto police officer found guilty of assault, brother not guilty, in Dafonte Miller beating case  Related article: –   Dafonte Miller Case: ‘Troubling Aspects and Unanswered Questions’ Proclaims Mayor of Toronto, Tory   Michael Spratt, Ottawa Criminal lawyer,  has a twitter link that exchanges queries and opinions on the decision:

The Whig-Standard (Kingston, ON) – Ian MacAlpine
Two CSC staff members test positive for COVID-19

The matter of the Covid-19 inside the nation’s prisons and jails is not over yet as this report surfaces. Joyceville Regional Assessment Unit, located about 50 km north of Kingston, and the Bath Institution, have discovered the virus among staff so far infecting three persons.  Justin Piché, a professor of criminology at Ottawa University and an advocate around criminal matters, has tracked the virus inside.  “As of a few days ago, he said, 360 offenders and 120 staff across Canada at federal and provincial institutions have so far been infected.”  Piché advocates release of those vulnerable prisoners as a preventative virus measure.   Related article:  The Guardian (UK, US desk) – Kaiya Gordon and Mia Santiago  ‘I don’t deserve to die in here’: women in an Ohio prison fear Covid-19 will kill them


Toronto Star – Staff

‘Yellow Peril’: How the pandemic is fuelling anti-Chinese racism

“According to a recent Angus Reid Institute poll, 60 percent of Chinese-Canadians say they’ve changed their daily routines to avoid the possibility of racial confrontations. 50 percent say they’ve directly experienced racial taunts and insults since quarantine began.”  This is a staggered estimate from a respected pollster.  Over one of every two Asian Canadians are saying they, too, know the sharped edge of racial intolerance and discrimination, and that the Covid-19 is prompting more overt practices.  Related article: National Post –   Jonny Wakefield, Lauren Boothby   Edmonton school trustee resigns after linking refugee children to violence in schools

Regina Leader-Post – Shawn Fraser
Opinion: Spending on remand beds doesn’t address real problembuilding jails,

The folly of money spent consequent to denying bail is again illustrative here in another provincial jail.  Remands make up approximately 70 of the prisoners but none have been convicted of anything and most are for non-violent charges.  The numbers are frightening: $120 million on 430 beds.  Says Fraser: “The Saskatchewan justice system has a real fondness for remand. In fact, Saskatchewan puts more people in remand than nearly any other province, and at a rate almost double the national average, 100 per 100,000 adults in 2019 vs. an average of 50 per 100,000 across the country.”

San Francisco Chronicler (US) – Bob Egelko
Prop. 47 reduced gaps in arrests, jailings among Blacks and whites, report finds

Proposition 47 passed in California in 2014 and aimed at reducing the gap between white convictions and sentencing and Black / Hispanic, so far by about 30,000 prisoners.  “Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot measure that lowered penalties for many property and drug crimes in California, has reduced but not eliminated the gap between African Americans and whites in arrests and jailings, according to a new report.”  Full Report: Magnus Lofstrom, Brandon Martin, Steven Raphael   Proposition 47’s Impact on Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice Outcomes

Stanford News (US) – Melissa De Witte
Psychological research has a racism problem, Stanford scholar says – Across five decades of psychological research, publications that highlight race are rare, and when race is discussed, it is authored mostly and edited almost entirely by white scholars, according to a new Stanford study.

Though race is a constant in most psychological research, it is also authored and designed by white scholars. Steven O. Roberts, an assistant professor of psychology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has just published his research on June 24. In Perspectives on Psychological Science, “(he) found that prominent psychological publications that highlight race are rare, and when race is discussed, it is authored mostly and edited almost entirely by white scholars.”  Fixing the problem seems to come back to the academic editor in chief for the institution sponsoring the study.

Forbes Magazine (US) – Ashoka
Making Amends: A Restorative Justice Program Seeks to End America’s Epidemic Of Violence

Danielle Sered started and leads Common Justice, America’s only “alternative to prison” program for people charged in the adult criminal courts.  “Common Justice operates an alternative to incarceration for serious and violent felonies in the adult courts. It’s a restorative justice model in which the one who caused harm makes things right with the people they’ve hurt and goes through intensive violence intervention. When they fulfill the commitments they make to those they’ve harmed, they don’t go to prison. The felony charges against them are dismissed. And in the meantime, we provide wraparound services to the survivors of those crimes to help them come through what happened to them and in their lives, generally.”  It seems to work and has an 8% recidivism rate.