Changing moments…

Aug. 12, 2020

Ottawa Citizen – Randall Denley
Carleton criminology profs want to end student internships with police, citing racial bias – This move must be quite pleasing to the faculty, but what about the students who would normally benefit from hands-on experience with law enforcement organizations?

The movement to defund police has taken another twist with this article.  Carleton University criminology program, which has an internship with police and Corrections has decided that the agencies are too racially bias.  The municipal police, the RCMP and Corrections are included in the decision to take effect the next school year.  It is likely that the university itself will want to review the decision since it means no more field placements for students.   Related article: Toronto Star – Shree Paradkar   Are we OK living in a society where (yet another human rights report shows) police are key drivers of racism against Black people?   Related article: iPolitics – Sen. Ratna Omidvar and Diya Khanna  Seven deadly sins to avoid on the path to anti-racism  Related article: The Lawyer’s Daily – Ian Burns   Prisoner human rights complaint alleges violence, isolation in response to mental health crises

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis and Francine Kopun
Police board recommends ‘sweeping’ reforms and budget audit, but rejects calls to defund Toronto police

So far. These are police board recommendations only but they are narrowing the perspective parameters for police changes in the light of the defund movement.  “Lauded by Toronto Mayor John Tory as an “ambitious series of reforms” and dubbed a positive step by some community and mental health advocates, the 81 recommendations — which include permanent anti-Black racism training and greater police accountability mechanisms — was nonetheless called disappointing by those calling for dramatic changes including “defunding” police.”  Critics say that the 81 recommendations do not deliver “fundamental change’ and are still only “window dressing.”   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Aug. 11, 2020)  Toronto’s proposed reforms to policing are overdue. Get on with them

The Marshall Project (US) – Jamiles Lartey
Can Kamala Harris Adapt The Government’s Airplane-Safety Model to Stem Police Shootings?  The transportation safety board works with federally-regulated air travel. A policing board would deal with thousands of local police departments.

The new vice-presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, already has her hat in the ring on police and prison reform.  This idea is already on the table as a response to the demand for reform to date:  a national police systems review board “applying to police shootings the successful government model now used to improve airline safety.”  The idea is that just as the NTSB has investigated airline crashes and made recs that apply across the country avoiding more crashes from the same causes, so too would this independent national police board.  The NTSB also collects safety data on the industry.  “All the Democratic candidates have pledged to reinvigorate federal oversight to some degree or another, but the review board component of Harris’ plan is unique.”

University Affairs – Melissa Fundira
Researchers respond to gender-based violence, ‘the pandemic within a pandemic’ – Rates of domestic violence and violence against women have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, and researchers are moving quickly to support survivors stuck at home.

Reports on the increase of domestic violence against women and children consequent to the stay-at-home circumstances are continuing to gain focus from researchers.  “Ask anyone who works in the field of gender-based violence (GBV) and you’ll hear these oft-cited and horrifying statistics: a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six days in Canada. The numbers are equally alarming when looking at domestic violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, coercive control, and other forms of violence against women and children. The issue is compounded by the systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous, LGBTQI2+, rural, newcomer and other marginalized communities. And now, with the addition of COVID-19, we have what many in the GBV sector are calling “a pandemic within a pandemic” – one that researchers are now scrambling to address.”

CBC News – Jessica Deer
Quebec judge rules in favour of Anishinaabe professor over Indian Act inequities – Karl Hele’s daughter was originally denied Indian status because her grandmother voluntarily enfranchised

The court ruling may mean that hundreds of Indigenous people who renounced their status may reverse the decision even many years later.  “The process of enfranchisement began in 1857 under the Gradual Civilization Act, and continued under the Indian Act of 1876 as an assimilation policy into Canadian society. Enfranchisement meant First Nations individuals lost their treaty rights and Indian status. Enfranchisement was often involuntary, such as when First Nations people obtained a university degree or when First Nations women married non-First Nations men.”

Toronto Star – David Rider
Toronto overdose deaths hit a grim new record in July, taking more lives than COVID-19

While Canada groans and is pre-occupied with Covid-19 incidents and deaths, deaths from opium overdoses is ignored but alarmingly high – 27 in the month of July alone.  Councillor Joe Creasy: ““The continued stigma associated with drug use, where we treat it not as a health issue but as a criminal justice matter, results in reduced services for people who need it…“It’s time that higher orders of government treat the overdose crisis like a health issue and fund programs and save lives, as opposed to treating it like a toxic issue.”   Related article: Public Health Canada – Evidence synthesis – The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective

Halifax Chronicle Herald – Nebal Snan
Prison system is traumatizing: Former prisoners speak up on Prisoners Justice Day

Nicole Tobin knows about prison trauma.  Tobin, pregnant at the time of her arrest over a traffic incident, told her story at the local Prisoner Justice Day and left no doubt about whether her encounter with the justice system was healing and helpful.  The trauma continued after her release and “It was humiliating going to interview after interview and … me telling them … I have a record and then the job is gone.”  Related article: The Walrus – Lauren McKeon  Beyond Bars: The case for Abolishing Women’s Prisons  (Sept / Oct 2020)  (The article is not yet on line but the printed edition is already available).