Sept 19, 2020

Atkinson Foundation –Armine Yalnizyan, Laurell Ritchie, and Mary Gellatly with input from Colette Murphy, Garima Talwar Kapoor, Morna Ballantyne, Kerry McCuaig, and Nora  Cole
Maximizing Potential Framework for Recovery in a Slow Growth Economy: A Memorandum to select Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office

This is a Sept 4 memo and an attempt to insert the Atkinson Foundation’s social analysis into the Cabinet retreats and the Sept 23 Speech from the Thorne.  The document identifies three pillars of federal action and five key recommendations in its summary statement.  The document is a 15 page downloadable pdf.

 Pioneers Post
How Indigenomics reframes economic and social value through an Indigenous lens

The Canadian people and government are in process of examining the direct consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and its economic impact.  Carol Anne Hilton is the founder of Indigenomics Institute which looks at economic decisions often made about Indigenous people but also often without a place at the table.  The article first tells about the idea and the founding of the organization and then a Q / A sessions between the Pioneers Post and Hilton.  Hilton thinks that all can benefit from adding the perspective of values brought by an Indigenous view.

 Toronto Star – Shree Paradkar
Scandal-hit U of T law school internal emails contradict dean’s new email to staff over key hiring decision

The position involved in this controversy is the director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP), a post that should preclude all chicanery or subterfuge.  Worse still, governed by the U of T Law School, the position was first offered to reputed scholar Valentina Azarova and then rescinded, apparently from undue judicial influences.  “The entire faculty advisory board has resigned over the hiring decision and on Thursday, a member of the hiring committee quit his job at U of T. Official complaints have been filed with the Canadian Judicial Council which has the authority to investigate and discipline judicial misconduct if necessary.”

Criminological Highlights – Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner

This fall edition addresses:  1)    How can we tell that at least part of the over-representation of Indigenous youth in the youth justice system relates to police decisions?  2)    What is the effect of the gentrification of a neighbourhood on policing?  3)    What is the effect of school suspensions on crime?  4)    How can schools reduce future adult offending by people who, as youths, were aggressive?  5)    What are the impacts of increasing the presence of police in schools?  6)    Are former prisoners who are immigrants likely to reoffend?  7)    How can public support for pardons be increased?  8)    How does involvement in the criminal justice system and being Indigenous affect one’s ability to obtain rental housing?  (Ed Note: There is a short delay – a day or two – in posting the September edition to the website.)   Additionally,  Recently, the team also put together a new Criminological Highlights collection dealing with the issue of pardons: “Evaluating the benefits of pardons” (Maria Jung, Jane Sprott, and Anthony Doob). It, and other Criminological Highlights collections, can be downloaded from:

CBC News – Julianne Hazlewood
University education program still on hold for inmates across Canada – The Walls to Bridges program has been on hiatus at prisons and jails since the start of the pandemic

One of the rarely discussed consequences of the Covid-19 is the downturn in the availability of programs in prisons, especially those requiring an outside influence.  The use of internet is severely limited and visitors not welcomed.  “The Walls to Bridges program has been on hiatus at federal prisons and provincial jails since the start of the pandemic shutdown in March as a safety precaution. It’s not clear when it’ll start again, according to Shoshana Pollack, who founded the program in partnership with Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. in 2011…The program has been taught in five federal institutions across Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as several provincial jails. It’s even been expanded to a jail in Paris, France.”   Rachel Fayette, who served a three year term at Grand Valley Institute for women and is now a 3rd year PhD candidate, recalls: “”For those folks that are locked up, Walls to Bridges might have been their only opportunity to have an education… There’s not very much access to [post-secondary] education, there’s not internet access, the computers are ancient … any kind of mail correspondence you have to pay for the courses yourself. So it’s very difficult for somebody in prison and has no income… In the Walls to bridges classroom, it was the first time in probably a year where I actually felt like I was a human being and my voice and experiences were valuable and respected.”

 The Marshall Project (US) – Eli Hager
Before Election, Trump Tries To Stack Prison-Sentencing Agency with Right Wing Allies – The U.S. Sentencing Commission, required by law to be bipartisan, helps set prison terms for more than 70,000 people every year.

There is no more certain indication of the failure of the US prison reform of mass incarceration than this latest round of judicial appointments.  This commission provides the guidelines for judges on sentencing.  All the nominees are reputed to be tough-on-crime advocates whose professional performance to date has justly earned them the reputation.  Of a commission of seven members, Trump is appointing five whose term is normally six years.  The candidates must have senate approval and critiques think the approval is unlikely for all five and unlikely before the election.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
The Government’s Sentencing Reform

The UK government has just published a white paper on sentencing which Webster says is a mixture of tough-on-crime and progressive measures.  Justice Secretary Robert Buckland: “What we need is a new, smarter approach to sentencing. A system that takes account of the true nature of crimes – one that is robust enough to keep the worst offenders behind bars for as long as possible, in order to protect the public from harm; but agile enough to give offenders a fair start on their road to rehabilitation.”  The paper has five topic areas and identifies three key areas problematic in the current policy.

 CNN (US) – Dakin Andone
Misconduct by government officials is a factor in 54% of wrongful convictions, study finds

This study probably brings little surprise but perhaps great promise for shining a light on realities long known but impervious to individual efforts to correct.  “A study published September 1 finds that (Robbie) Long (innocent after 44 years in jail) is far from alone, and that misconduct by government officials has contributed to 54% of false convictions of defendants who were later exonerated in the past three decades, with police misconduct being a factor in 35% of such cases.”   Full Study:  Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent   Samuel R. Gross, Senior Editor, srgross@umich.eduMaurice J. Possley, Senior ResearcherKaitlin Jackson Roll, Research Scholar(2014-2016)Klara Huber Stephens, Denise Foderaro Research Scholar(2016-2020) NATIONAL REGISTRY OF EXONERATIONS SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 The Role of Prosecutors, Police and Other Law Enforcement   (A joint project of U of Michigan and the National Registry of Exonerations)   Related article: USA Today /Texas Statesman -Tony Plohetski     Texas deputies, including those who killed Javier Ambler, reportedly got steakhouse gift cards for using force