Public safety…

Dec 13, 2020

Toronto Star – Jim Rankin
8 Canadian voices on what they mean when they say: ‘Defund the police’

Defunding the police has become a controversial slogan about re-prioritizing the tasks of the police especially in mental health and social issues, and reallocating the funds into community social concerns.  The discussion starts with the question of public safety and how do we best ensure the safety of persons, an idea largely understood to be in the hands of policing and more rigorous enforcement of the laws.  Here, eight Canadians significantly involved in these issues offer diverse opinion about what it means to ‘defund the police’ and the wisdom of the slogan.   Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   Defund the police — and then what? What Toronto can learn from the places out in front of a global movement   (Gillis looks at three US cities already tackling the policing issues and one country, Finland, with alternate practices.) Related article: BC Tyee – Jen St Denis   Vancouver Won’t Increase Police Budget, but Balks at Defunding – Council rejects call from police board to increase funds, but says reallocating money to social services is premature.    Related article; BC Tyee – Curt Petrovich  After Tyee Report, Health Canada Removes Barrier to Psilocybin Therapy – Breakthrough exemption will allow 16 health professionals to experience effects as part of training in new therapy approach.   Related article: BC Tyee – Moira Wyton  BC’s New Addictions Minister Promises Action on Safe Supply, Overdose Prevention – Sheila Malcolmson acknowledges slow progress, but says issues are complex. Related article: NBC News (US) –  Mike Memoli   In leaked recording, Biden says GOP used ‘defund the police’ to ‘beat the living hell’ out of Democrats – The president-elect told civil rights leaders he wants to move ahead on police reform — but cautiously.   Related article:  Hill Times – Sandra Ka Hon Chu and Janet Butler-McPhee Canada has chance to change course on drug decriminalization  “Vancouver City Council unanimously adopted a motion to request a federal exemption from Health Minister Patty Hajdu, pictured, that could decriminalize drug possession throughout the city.”  (Access needed)   Related article: Delaware State Department of Health  Delaware Division of Public Health Announces Availability of Free Mail-Order Naloxone

Toronto Star – Brendan Kennedy
Canadian border agent under investigation after passport for immigration detainee deemed fraudulent

The implications of this incident raise important questions about the exact authority of and the supervision of Canada Border Security officers.  The case has not yet concluded but there appears sufficient evidence that an officer who went ‘rogue’ was almost able to expel fraudulently an immigrant refugee applicant, Ebrahim Toure.  The case re-iterates past concerns by refugee advocates, and simply returning Canadians at border points, that there is no appropriate supervision of officers and even less consequences for misconduct.  The CBSA is under the authority of Bill Blair and the Ministry of Public Safety.  A curtain of silence has fallen over the case for the moment.  Toure’s deportation is on hold and he is free from detention for the moment.

Criminological Highlights – Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner, et al

Here are the usual 8 topical highlights from U of T Criminology:  1. What problems can be created for survivors of intimate partner violence by laws that require the reporting of child abuse and neglect to government authorities?  2. Why do rape victims report their victimizations to the police, and why are their motivations important? 3. How can the police and courts reduce, with almost no cost, the number of failures to appear in court?  4. What is the effect of the presence of a drug court on overall court caseload? 5. Is it meaningful that a psychometric test suggests that a prisoner has improved after treatment?  6. Are community sanctions experienced as being lenient?  7. Does experience in the criminal justice system undermine self-control in youths? 8. Should we invest in more electronic monitoring?   Full commentaries at

CTV News – Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
U.S. man who was serving 90-year sentence for cannabis released

Richard DeLisi walked out of a Florida prison after serving 31 years of a ninety year sentence for selling marijuana.  In those 31 years, many of his immediate family had died and his release occasioned meeting grandchildren for the first time.  Besides the obvious conclusion that the crime which normally drew a 12-17 sentence in 1989, the remaining question is how any criminal legal system could be so disproportionate and endure until now without recourse.  “Chiara Juster, a former Florida prosecutor who handled the case pro bono for the The Last Prisoner Project, criticized DeLisi’s lengthy sentence as “a sick indictment of our nation.”

Toronto Star – Amir Barnea
Dan Price announced a minimum salary of $70,000 to all of his 120 employees back in 2015. It paid off big time

This narrative needs to be part of all the discussions that bring into question what people will do to help themselves when the playing field holds their interests in assurance.  “The naysayers were wrong,” he (Price) tells me now, five-and-a-half years after the announcement, which made national news. “I could not have imagined such a great success. The number of employees at Gravity increased by 70 per cent. The company’s customer base doubled, and the cash turnover cleared almost tripled. The employees are more committed and prouder to belong to the company.”

Detroit Metro News / The Center Square (US) – Scott McClallen
Michigan Senate passes sweeping criminal justice reform bills

This article, besides offering an insight into the implications of arrest for family, also offers an insight into the harm done by a myriad of practices having nothing to do with the charges but rather simply designed to punish more.  In Michigan, going to jail for driving without a licence is the third cause of jail admission.  Poverty is the real cause since these offences mostly result in fines and fees.  These reforms are, according to Alex Rossman, external affairs director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, “another step toward smart justice that reins in overly severe and ineffective punishments, and another much-needed step toward improving racial equity and economic stability for Michigan residents and their families.”  Related article: Baltimore Sun (US) – Tim Prudente   Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby hires public defender to free elderly prisoners   Related article: Boston Herald (US) – Joe Battenfeld      Prisoners to get first crack at coronavirus vaccine under Charlie Baker’s plan – Yet, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said ‘that won’t happen’ in his state