Women in solitary…

Nov 9, 2020

Refinery29.com – Sabrina Maddeaux
The Ugly Truth about Solitary Confinement in Canada’s Women’s Prisons

Maddeaux starts with Ashley Smith and her crime of throwing apples at the postman for which she got 14 days that turned into four years and her death in death – all because the system did not respond to her mental health needs.  It may deteriorate to that for many of the 6000 women presently in jail whose personal circumstances are likewise ignored for a penal and institutional response to poverty, addiction or mental health needs.  Says Senator Kim Pate:  “Prisons are being used because we don’t have sufficient supports for women who’ve experienced violence. But they are not and should never be a substitute for treatment centres or homeless shelters.”  https://www.refinery29.com/en-ca/2020/11/10033975/solitary-confinement-canada-prisons-women

The National Restorative Justice Symposium – Virtual Edition

The National Restorative Justice Symposium (NRJS) 2020 (virtual) is less than two weeks away!  Pre-symposium trainings are happening on November 14-15 and tickets are $65 per person per training.  The Symposium itself is November 16-17.  Tickets are only $25 for an all-access pass to any of the workshops being offered.   The keynote dialogues will focus on gender-based harm, race-based harm, colonial harm and environmental harm.   As there are four workshop timeslots over the two days, that can be up to four workshops!  The all-access pass also includes access to the Keynote dialogues.  The following links take you to the various webpages:

The NRJS 2020 webpage:  https://www.crjc.ca/national-symposium

The virtual program:  https://www.crjc.ca/nrjs-program

Keynote dialogues: https://www.crjc.ca/nrjs-keynote-dialogues

Basic Income Canada Network – Chandra Pasma and Sheila Regehr
Basic Income: Some Policy Options for Canada

The link provides an excellent resource in the debate around basic guaranteed income or guaranteed annual income.  The premise is that while basic income will not solve all our problems, “it is the precondition for making progress on many otherwise unsolvable problems.” The resource includes a definition of terms and the framing of the debate, principles used, options possible, the revenue angle, the options available and their impact.  The 63 page report delivers lots of clarity and food for thought about how this daring future could be realized.  https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bicn/pages/3725/attachments/original/1579707497/Basic_Income-_Some_Policy_Options_for_Canada2.pdf?1579707497

The Telegram (St. John’s, NF) – Peter Jackson
Newfoundland and Labrador task force chairs say the culture of health care has to change

This article may serve to remind us how much our justice discussion has turned to the social determinants of health and the need to structurally re-think health services across Canada to include some issues previously thought exclusively justice issues.  The two chairs for this task in Newfoundland – epidemiologist Dr. Patrick Parfrey and Sister of Mercy Elizabeth Davis – are offering an analysis of what is needed for a new public health, what such a new practice would entail and how long we need to achieve even a measure of change.  One chair, Dr.  Parfrey “The creation of the plan won’t take 10 years and the implementation of the plan won’t take 10 years, but the impact of the plan will take 10 years because you’ve got to change culture.”   https://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/newfoundland-and-labrador-task-force-chairs-say-the-culture-of-health-care-has-to-change-517829/   Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Michelle Pitcher   Should Prisoners Have to Pay for Medical Care during a Pandemic?  Some states stop charging copays to encourage COVID-19 care. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/11/02/should-prisoners-have-to-pay-for-medical-care-during-a-pandemic

Reuters News Agency (US) – Linda So, Brad Heath, Jason Szep, Ned Parker and Peter Eisler
America’s inmate population fell by 170,000 amid COVID. Some see a chance to undo mass incarceration – As jails and prisons cut their inmate populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some communities seized a chance to amend long-entrenched policies that make the U.S. the world’s incarceration capital. The changes could free some suspects who die before getting their day in court.

The damage from fear of widespread Covvid-19 for US prisons and jails is approximately 170,000 prisoners released, approximately 11%.  But the good news is that some states and municipalities are asking if many of those released and more still in prison should ever have been tin prison to start.  “With tens of thousands suddenly freed or diverted from entering jail, some governments see COVID-19 as a chance to change the policies that led many inmates to be locked up in the first place.”  Some held waiting for trial never made it to the trial, dying from the virus.  The authors are also insisting that the bail system, locally and nationally, is desperately in need of reform.  https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-jails-release/   Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Nicole Lewis and Aviva Shen  Unlocking The Vote In Jails – The majority of the 745,000 people held in local jails can vote, but few do. Advocates say it’s voter suppression on a national scale.   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/10/26/unlocking-the-vote-in-jails

N.Y. Times Magazine (US) – David Marchese
Greta Thunberg Hears Your Excuses. She Is Not Impressed.

Trump told Greta “to chill” but she may have the last word as the Biden presidency appears ready to embrace both climate change and the US participation in the international climate deterioration fighting.  The link is a Q/A between Marchese and Greta on a variety of issues, both the focus and direction of climate change activity.  She voices the notion that both the Green New Deal and Biden’s environmental plan are insufficient but pointing us in starter steps.  “When we say “greener policies,” what does “green” even mean? Green is a color. So when people say that we are going to invest in green investments that can mean anything. The Green New Deal is very far from being enough, but as you said, it has changed the debate. It could be a small step in the right direction, and that’s the way we have to communicate it. To say, “This is far from being enough” and then always show where we need to be.”   https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/11/02/magazine/greta-thunberg-interview.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

Twitter Keri Blakinger –
One recovering addict to another

(Ed note:  Blakinger is a journalist, self-confessed addict and former felon who now works for the Marshall Project, a source frequently quoted in this newsletter.  Given the social concerns pushed out of our sights by the election, especially addiction, it is a timely reminder to us of the health, justice and personal dimensions of our lives together.)

“If Hunter Biden ever worried that his struggle with addiction would derail his dad’s career, I hope he goes to bed tonight knowing that in the end it did not. I don’t mean that as a political statement, just a hope from one recovering addict to another.”  https://twitter.com/keribla/status/1325262399235088384   Related article: BBC (UK) – Mat Trewern    The city with no homeless on its streets   https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-46891392

N.Y. Times – Bryan Garsten
How to Protect America from the Next Donald Trump – The Constitution is supposed to protect us from demagogues. Can we make it work again?

This Times article may be a helpful starting point on how a democracy can cope better with a demagogue, purely in the intellectual realm at the moment but undoubtedly part of learned lesson from history for the immediate future.  We came so close – and we are not yet delivered – from the destructive narcissistic dysfunctionality of a president.  At some point all democracy world-wide will have to address the recourse to vacuous populism that ignores both human caring and human rights.   How could 70 million vote for this agenda and for him?  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/opinion/how-to-protect-america-from-the-next-donald-trump.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage   Related article: The Appeal.com – Daniel Nichanian and Anna Simonton How Criminal Justice Reform Fared at the Ballot Box on Tuesday – Voters approved initiatives to expand voting rights and curtail drug criminalization, and they elected new sheriffs and prosecutors who’ve vowed to challenge mass incarceration.   https://theappeal.org/politicalreport/criminal-justice-reform-2020-election-results/