Jan. 7, 2021

Policy Options – Andrew Parkin
Ten Trends That Will Shape Events in 2021 – From declining confidence in business to growing concern about racism, Environics’ public opinion studies show evolving beliefs on key issues.

Parkin does not have a crystal ball to look at the future but bets that significant events in 2020 will play a dominant role in 2021.  He offers ten trends as determined by public opinion samplings by Environics over the past year.  He includes some excellent graphs to illustrate the opinions he discovers, including one on basic income.

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Toronto can significantly cut police spending and over-policing by redirecting calls, new report says

The tide seems to have turned from discussing defunding police and its consequences to examining what functions police do and whether the function fits the job description for police.  The alternative is to partially defund police in order to engage people better able to handle the health and social needs that result in a large percentage of police or 911 calls.  Homelessness, mental health and youth are three areas identified as worthy of such re-directed funds from police budgets.   Related article (A string of tweets from Jude Oudshoorn on the police funding and activity)   Related article: Toronto Star – Jason Miller    ‘If we don’t like the idea of change, we’re going to hate being irrelevant even more’: Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah on what’s next in 2021

Health Law Institute – Dalhousie University

The link is to a Zoom video set up for Friday, Jan 15, at 12:10 PM (Note: Atlantic Standard Time one hour later in Ontario, adjust accordingly) entitled The Health of People Who Experience Imprisonment in Canada:  Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian, Department of Family Medicine / McMaster University.  The series of webinar lectures are free and one may register at:[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22share_link%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22share_link%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A%7B%5C%22invite_link_id%5C%22%3A444182576575424%7D%7D]%22%7D  or alternately:

Saskatchewan Dispatch – Cory Charles Cardinal
A letter from the organizer of the Sask. prisoners’ hunger strike

Alarm by prisoners and their loved ones over Covid-19 is causing an outcry and a hunger strike in three Saskatchewan prisons with predominantly indigenous populations.   Cardinal, who is a prisoner in the Saskatoon Regional Provincial Center, calls on advocates “unite in conversations an inquiry into the epidemic of incarcerations, overuse of remand, over-incarceration of Aboriginals, and prevalent structures of colonialism, to mount a defense against the systemic oppression that has tortured our dignity and lives.”  Related article: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix – Thia James   COVID-19 cases at Sask. Pen surpass 200, about half active; cases identified at Willow Cree Healing Lodge – Saskatchewan Penitentiary has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in all of Canada’s federal prisons.  Related article:  CKRM Radio News    Hunger strikes allegedly taking place at two Sask. correctional facilities with inadequate COVID-19 precautions to blame  Related article: CTV News – Jeremiah Rodriguez   Inmates fear ‘leaving in a body bag’ as COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons worsen   Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Beth Schwartzapfel, Katie Park and Andrew Demillo   1 in 5 Prisoners in the U.S. Has Had COVID-19

Northern Public Radio – Raymon Troncoso & Capitol News (Illinois)
 Pritzker Issues Marijuana Pardons, State Police Clear Eligible Arrest Records

Governor Pritzker of Illinois issued “9,219 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions” just before New Year and further vacated the convictions by eliminating all state records.  The pardons and records vacated now total 20,236, a determined effort to confront the trivial convictions and far reaching damages of a criminal record.  The process of expunging the records is continuous but extends as well to records of both the Illinois State Police and local police.  The question of where such digital records have gone and how likely the expunged records are to show up again in efforts like job applications remains.   Related article: The Appeal – Jonathan Ben Menachem   New York Ends a Punishment That Traps People in Poverty – A new law will stop the suspension of driver’s licenses when New Yorkers fail to pay fines, though the governor weakened the legislation before signing it.   Related article: Politico (US) – 5 New Policy Ideas for Fixing Life After Prison – Ex-prisoners can face a whole second sentence when they try to re-enter society. Business, governments and non-profits have ideas for how to make it easier.

The New Republic (US) – Melissa Gira Grant
Saving Lisa Montgomery’s Life Requires More Than Stopping Her Execution – The system failed to protect Montgomery as a child. It should be able to offer more now than merely a reprieve from execution.

The first of a series of three articles, Grant sets the context rather starkly:  “To execute Lisa Montgomery would be a final act of violence in the lifetime of violence she has already endured. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, which some of her family members have testified to knowing about, Montgomery was further failed by the legal system, which her defense team says had multiple chances to intervene and keep her from further trauma. This troubling history is now central to her supporters’ and her lawyers’ appeals for mercy.”  The horrific personal history of abuse makes even a suggested execution an act as depraved as the crime.

CTV News – Christy Somos
Canadian CEOs have already earned the average yearly income: report

Amid all the reports about how billionaires continue to make more billions during and because of  the pandemic, here’s the usual reminder about the state of income disparity in Canada.  Shortly after 11:17 AM on Jan 4, Canada’s CEO’s had made the same amount as an average income earner will for the entire year, estimated at just over $54,000.  Cf the full report:  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – David MacDonald    The Golden Cushion:  CEO compensation in Canada