Sept 7, 2020

Toronto Star – Douglas Quan
‘We’re all Canadians here’: Jail culture is keeping extremism at bay, suggests an unprecedented Canadian study

What’s the possibility that someone may find Canada’s prisons as ripe place for radicalization to terrorist persuasion?  Not much, says this study by a University of Alberta Research Team.  “According to the researchers, a jail subculture exists in Canada in which radicalized inmates are vilified and in which other inmates are willing to break the usual “code of silence” to out them…Strikingly, researchers say, broad support within the inmate population for multiculturalism means they are generally intolerant of those who spread radical views against other ethnic groups.”  The rest of us, suggest the researchers, may need to look more closely at our stereotypes.

Policy Options (Canada) – Adelina Iftene
Governments have failed to protect the incarcerated during the pandemic.  Inmates have died because of COVID-19, despite many early warnings to take action. Canada must learn from its failures and enact sweeping re-forms.

Internationally most countries, Canada included, have failed to act quickly and specifically enough to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 on the prisons.  “Canada is one of the countries that has not only failed to take robust action and ensure the protection of those in custody, but also implemented measures that further harmed prisoners. If the federal and provincial governments are committed to closing equity gaps and to advancing public health objectives, it must learn from its failures and do better as we head towards new waves of the pandemic.”  The inadequacy comprised a shortage of medical personnel and the over-dependence on isolation as a primary response.  “In Canada, there were outbreaks in five federal prisons. In May 2020, the rate of infection in federal prisons was over 13 times higher than in the community.  Related article: Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham   She knew Scott would die. Inside an Ontario mother’s fight to save her son from overdose   

The Marshall Project (US)
A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons – The Marshall Project is collecting data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons. See how the virus has affected correctional facilities where you live.

This report, in collaboration with the Associated Press and dated Aug. 4, 2020, is the most up to date and comprehensive report on the impact of the Covid-19 virus on American prisons.  The report with readable graphics states that there have been 115,106 cases and that 87,115 have recovered to date.  Then the report offers a state by state accounting of those cases and the resulting deaths from the virus.  There is considerable variation in the testing by state.

Politico (US) – Betsy Woodruff Swan
DHS draft document: White supremacists are greatest terror threat – The documents are slightly different drafts of the same annual threat assessment, which is not yet published.

As difficult as it is to believe, white supremacists in the US have never been identified by the various policing bodies as genuine terrorist threats.  So far, there have been three drafts of this document but “all three drafts describe the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S., listed above the immediate danger from foreign terrorist groups.”  So far unpublished, the document – titled DHS’s State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020 – also identifies Russia as the most serious external threat.  The language from draft one to draft three loses some of its direct strength.  The possibility of publication – if or when – is not clear.

Appointed (Canada) – A podcast from the office of Senator Kim Pate
Evidence points to Guaranteed Livable Income as a way to address the inequality of poverty: What are we waiting for?

The link offers a 40 minute podcast on the Guaranteed Livable Income as a ready solution to the disparity in income and the poverty in Canada.  Additionally, the link offers a link to the resources identified in the audio as well as a direct link to other podcasts from Senator Pate.

The Orange County Register (Ca / US) – Sydney Kamlager Dove and Van Jones
Want to protect lives, reduce COVID and save money? Reform probation

The legislation involved is AB 1950, a California effort to redefine the terms of probation for the state’s prisoners.  The proposed positives are that it curtails the number of people sent back to jail from parole for technical reasons as opposed to real offenses, it reduces the amount of time under parole, it reduces costs of mass incarceration, it supports second chance by concentrating support services within a shorter parole period.  The system also disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people.  Advocates say that approximate 20% of prison admissions each year are for probation violations.  The Bill has passed the Assemble and is now waiting for Governor Newsom’s signature and Senate approval.    Related article:  Reform Alliance support for AB 1950   Related article: LA Times – David Muhammad and Vincent Schiraldi   Op-Ed: Stop putting people in prison for small parole and probation rule violations   (Ed Note: A dated – June 2020 – article with informative elements)   Related article: Oregon Register-Guard – Kristen Bell   Guest View: More integrity behind convictions  (Oregon permits non-unanimous jury verdicts.)

N.Y. Times – Julie Bosman
After the unrest, Kenosha wrestles with what comes next – Some residents saw the shoot of Jacob Blake as proof the city’s policing needs fundamental overhaul.  Others spoke of getting back to normal.

Increasingly the notion of defunding the police as a response to systemic racism has given way to some doubts about whether policing is corrupt with structural racism or whether there are a few bad apples.  That question is prompting what some advocates would see as only partial solutions, such as the purchase of body cameras, the resignation of both the Chief of police and the county sheriff, the blame on ‘outsiders.’ What is lacking at this point is any consensus of a solution about drastic structural change or simple fixes.   Related article: Washington Post (US) – Vangela M. Wade   Curtis Flowers will finally be freed. Prosecutorial misconduct remains a problem.   Related article: Tampa Bay Times – Dara Kam  Florida not required to treat prisoners with costly medication for hepatitis C, court rules – A federal court found that prison officials are allowed to take cost into consideration when deciding what treatment options to offer to inmates.