Reforming police…

Oct 23, 2020 

 Ottawa Citizen – Jeffrey Monaghan
Monaghan: After the Montsion verdict – a need for broader change – Here are three modest steps Ottawa Council and the police service could take to signal a desire for substantive reform.

Montsion is an Ottawa police officer who was charged with killing Abdirahman Abdi four years ago; Abdi was known to be a mentally ill man.  Montsion was found not guilty of killing Abdi and Monaghan, a criminology professor at Carleton, offers three reforms: defund or redirect a portion of police funding; identify areas of decentralization; and dispense with bad apples.

Toronto Star – Alex Boutilier
Canadian Forces investigates after mystery man in secret recording claims to be a soldier — and a neo-Nazi

The public visibility of far right wing and white supremacy groups in the US has a Canadian reverberation in this link by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a well-respected NGO tracking the influence of the law on poverty.  The connection is exposed in an audio recording of a man allegedly a Canadian Forces soldier in training who has membership in and is supportive of several extreme groups.  The Forces at themselves investigating to discover who the man known as ‘Dakov really is and whether he is currently undergoing a program of combat training.     Related article:  CBC News – Murray Brewster   Military members who report sexual misconduct still say they’re being dismissed by chain of command: report – Five years into drive to eliminate sexual misconduct from the military, victims report feeling abandoned

Toronto Star – Angelyn Francis
No-knock warrants are under scrutiny in the U.S. In Canada it’s called ‘dynamic entry.’ What is this police tactic and how is it used?

No-knock warrants came to the attention of the public when used in the Breeona Taylor case in Louisville but in Canada we call the method ‘dynamic entry’.  In the US, the authority for the practice is a search warrant duly signed by a judge.  In Canada, the practice gets authorized by the senior ranking police officer. The entry often uses a flash bang grenade – a loud noise and a flash – to distract those inside.  “Mark Ertel, a criminal defence lawyer based in Ottawa, worked a case where in February this year, a Ontario Superior Court judge found that the Ottawa police department’s routine use of dynamic entries displayed “serious misconduct.”

The Marshall Project:
The System: Race and policing

The Marshall Project has a new twist on reporting in that they are now sending e-mails to those who subscribe to a series called the System in which they highlight areas of criminal justice judged to need attention.  This first (of seven anticipated) e-mail traces some of the history of where police forces came from, why they were formed and how they evolved, placing the roots of policing in slavery where police were often rented out to corporations and landowners.  A good start for this new vehicle and the series includes both video and reading resources.   Related article: Spectrum – Eva McKend, Nationwide   What is Restorative Justice and How Can it Change the Criminal Justice System?    Related article: New Jersey.comS.P. Sullivan   After being wrongly convicted, former prisoners call on N.J. to make police misconduct records public   Related article: CNN – Christina Maxouris   After nearly a decade in prison for a marijuana sale, Derek Harris has been freed   Related article: Texas (US) – Michael Hall  “It’s the Most Outrageous Thing I’ve Ever Seen. It Makes No Sense.”   DNA evidence proved Lydell Grant’s innocence. So why won’t the state’s highest criminal court exonerate him?

 Cornell Law School (US) Sandra Babcock
Lisa Montgomery: A Victim of Incest, Child Prostitution and Rape Faces Execution

The basic blindness of law and the inevitable unfolding of systematic unfairness is never more illustrated than in this case:  a mentally ill, and multiple sexually abused person from her early childhood, is to be the latest victim of the renewed US federal thirst for death.  She is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8, a sad testimony to indifference and harshness.

The Good Men Project (US) – Jeffrey Sheridan
Resources to Rebuild Your Life after Jail – Don’t let your past stand in the way of your future.

The Project offers annotated listings of resources available to help those returning former prisoners to cope with setting up the support services that may prove helpful to re-establish oneself in the community.  The suggestions include books, agencies and website connections where services are available.

The Broadbent Institute
Report: Basic Income Guarantee

“Our latest paper examines these questions and provides a strong social democratic frame to consider how a basic income could help lift people out of poverty and address employment gaps, offering ideas on what implementation could look like in the short and medium term.”   Related article: The Broadbent Institute – Guy Caron  Basic Income: an explainer – What do Canadians need to live a good life and how can basic income play a role?  (A 13 minutes video explaining Basic Annual Income)   Related article: National Post – Raymond de Souza   Hugh Segal has been calling for a basic income for 50 years. Maybe it’s time

 The Crime Report (US) – Nancy Bilyeau
The Trauma of Women in Prison

“Women serving prison sentences suffer serious trauma both before and during incarceration, and improved awareness and better services in the prison systems are urgently needed, according to a new study by the Urban Institute…Between 1980 and 2017, the number of women incarcerated in the United States increased 750 percent, and African American women were incarcerated at twice the rate of white women, the study said… The majority were imprisoned for nonviolent offenses.”   Full study: The Urban Institute Justice Policy Center   Addressing Trauma and Victimization in Women’s Prisons   ( A 9 page downloadable pdf with Executive Summary, major findings, Recommendations )