A ketamine arrest…

Sept 2, 2020

CNN (US) – Sara Sidner and Julia Jones
Two strangers, with the same first name, and a terrifying story about ketamine in policing

Here is a cautionary tale for those crisis teams who recognize the role of medical personnel in response to 911 calls involving mental health.  The involuntary administration of ketamine, a dangerous and powerful drug used in surgery, to persons interacting with police and who are prescribed, at least in part, by those police officers as a response to “excited delirium.”  There appears no concession from the larger medical world that there is even such a legitimate diagnosis, though emergency room doctors concede while insisting it is very difficult to accurately diagnose.  Instead, Sidner and Jones are reporting considerable increase in the frequency of use and the resulting serious medical complications from roadside incidents.  https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/us/ketamine-use-in-police-stops/index.html    Related article: The Intercept.com (US) – Krithika Varagur    Minnesota Paramedic Speaks Out Against Police Use of Ketamine Injections – Joseph Baker has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that police pressured him to use the sedative during an arrest.    https://theintercept.com/2020/08/25/ketamine-police-use-minnesota/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=The%20Intercept%20Newsletter   Related article: Red Deer Advocate (AB) – Lana Michelin  Red Deerians with mental illness or addictions will be helped by crisis team instead of police – ‘We can’t police our way out of some problems’   https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/news/red-deerians-with-mental-illness-or-addictions-will-be-helped-by-crisis-team-instead-of-police/

The Intercept.com (US) – Alice Speri
Can “Progressive” Prosecutors Bring Justice to Victims of Police Violence? – Wesley Bell’s decision not to charge the officer who killed Michael Brown exposes the limits of the movement to elect reform prosecutors

Criminal and prison reformers sometimes think that progressives prosecutors and distract attorneys can be a formidable influence in getting the reform started.  But the case of victim Michael Brown, an 18 year old Black youth killed by Police in Ferguson, Missouri, belies the potential somewhat.  Wesley Bell, St. Louis County’s first Black prosecutor rode the election victory on the case but “Bell noted that the investigation did not exonerate Wilson, arguing that “the question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing him of any and all wrongdoing.”  Sometimes, the strength of the social and legal structures is just too much.  https://theintercept.com/2020/08/27/wesley-bell-michael-brown-darren-wilson-ferguson-police/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=The%20Intercept%20Newsletter   Related article: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – Somil Trivedi    Coercive Plea Bargaining Has Poisoned the Criminal Justice System. It’s Time to Suck the Venom Out –  The vast number of cases brought under our system of mass incarceration means that plea bargaining is the only way for courts to get through the sheer number of cases in their dockets. This system lacks process, fairness, and often even rule of law.  https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law-reform/coercive-plea-bargaining-has-poisoned-the-criminal-justice-system-its-time-to-suck-the-venom-out/?initms_aff=nat&initms_chan=soc&utm_medium=soc&initms=200901_blog_tw&utm_source=tw&utm_campaign=&utm_content=200901_criminallaw_blog&ms_aff=nat&ms_chan=soc&ms=200901_blog_tw&s=03

Asbury Park (NJ) Transformative Justice Project (US) – Jennifer Lewinski
The Effects Police and Prison have on Families and Domestic Violence

Lewinski is a grassroots member of Asbury Park community in New Jersey.  Their Transformative Justice Project is focused on the immediate impact of police, courts and prisons on their neighbors. Those who struggle with why defunding police is an acceptable alternative may draw understanding from Lewinski’s personal account of domestic violence.  “Hurt people hurt other people,” Lewinski reminds us.  “So when they build a prison, there is now a demand for prisoners. And the police are commissioned to bring those prisoners. That is their job. They are not doing the wrong thing, they are doing what their job is supposed to do. And that system is violent. It is a violence on the community. So if the community finds ways to do things outside that system, then they will be a healthier society. And that is what we are talking about, when we are talking about abolition.”  https://conta.cc/2YLJ4lW   Asbury Park Transformative Justice site:  https://aptransformativejustice.org/

CBC News – Jody Porter
Ontario breaks its own rules on use of segregation in jails, human rights commission says – Province being pressed to ban solitary confinement for prisoners with mental health disabilities

In recent days, critics have been loud against the federal government’s refusal to provide legitimate response to court ordered limits on solitary.  But clearly, provincial governments and Corrections are equally at fault.  The problem is documented by the latest Ontario Human Rights Commission report.  “”It’s important not to lose sight that this is about people’s actual lived experience,” said Ontario Human Rights Commission staff lawyer Insiya Essajee, in an interview with CBC News.  “Every day has a human cost… The motion is the latest in the commission’s push to improve conditions for people with mental health disabilities in Ontario’s correctional system.”  The motion identifies no fewer than 11 ways the Ontario government is in breach of its own obligations to prisoners.   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/segregation-ontario-ohrc-1.5703807

The Walrus (Canada) – by Lauren McKeon, Illustration by Jeremy Leung
Did Prisons Ever Work? – A growing movement believes it’s time to stop putting women in jail

The perspective here is on women in prison but it may be a fair question to ask regardless of the gender of the prisoner.  It is especially germane when the types of circumstances for women is examined.  37 year old Treena Smith is someone who personifies the revolving prison door to the point where, she says, the prison has become a safety net:  “What I fear is getting back out into the community. I feel like a failure there. I feel like I don’t really belong anymore.”  While only rarely does a woman go to prison for some horrendous crime, the rate in imprisonment of women has grown by 40% in recent times.  The real problems are not so much the crimes as the way we as a society treat women, before, during and after a prison term.  “Dozens of women have told her that incarceration is better than the alternatives: going hungry, living on the street, being beaten by partners, being unable to afford medication, or facing addiction without access to treatment. But, as Bucerius points out, prisons were never designed to be stand-ins for mental health support, addiction care, employment services, or shelters. Instead, they are structured around ideas of punishment, places where we “lock ’em up”—“them” being Canada’s dangerous and undesirable.”  Time for an alternative and to abandon women’s prisons???  https://thewalrus.ca/did-prisons-ever-work/?s=03

Calmatters.org (US) – Laurel Rosenhall
California lawmakers failed to enact sweeping police reforms. Here’s why.

Already but early in the reformers’ agenda we can see a frequency in the civil failure to reform police agencies.  The Covid-19 is reducing the ways that activists can make their presence felt at the state capitals and as a result a number of critical bills have stalled or stripped of their bite.  Included among those bills, a bill to effect police reform, a bill to make police misbehaviour records public, a bill to prohibit the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on protestors.  Lawmakers did succeed in getting a law to require the state to invest police killings of unarmed civilians, and a law to prohibit chokeholds and neck restraints by police.  https://calmatters.org/justice/2020/09/california-lawmakers-failed-to-enact-police-reform/  Related article: City News Group (California) – Daniel Peeden   Bill to Provide Employment Opportunities to Inmate Firefighters   https://www.citynewsgroup.com/articles/bill-to-provide-employment-opportunities-to-inmate-firefighters    Related article: The Marshall Project – Christie Thompson   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/09/02/the-former-prisoners-fighting-california-s-wildfires?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=twitter&s=03