Mar 5, 2021

 The Guardian (Manchester, UK) – Kate Allen
The government is hell-bent on diluting the Human Rights Act. We must protect it

Allen, the director of Amnesty International (UK) is of the opinion that human rights stand between governments and the lack of accountability that governments prefer.  “So why is this government so fixated on the Human Rights Act? Well, it has shown it is no fan of scrutiny across the board, and has set about dismantling checks on its power – from launching a “review of judicial review” to granting itself unfettered powers in the ‘spy cops’ bill. And now comes this attempt to water down the Human Rights Act.”  Sound familiar?  See below… – Justin Ling
Justin Trudeau Says Solitary Confinement Is ‘Unacceptable’ Following Report Saying His Government Uses Solitary Confinement – When asked by VICE World News whether he would demand resignations after a damning report on Canadian prisons, the prime minister says his team is ‘following up.’

Confusion is the best analysis possible from the on-going confrontation over court orders, human rights and the practice of solitary confinement.  “Asked by VICE World News on Wednesday about new data showing that the unconstitutional practice of solitary confinement, and outright torture, is commonplace in Canada’s prisons, Trudeau did not say what he would actually do to stop it.”  The practice of solitary has had several names but the practice continues, one that “the courts found that locking inmates in a cell for 22 hours a day, indefinitely, was dangerous to their mental health and constituted cruel and unusual punishment.”

Related article: Edmonton Journal – Karrie Auger  Opinion: COVID-19 intensifies already inhumane conditions in prisons

Related article: The Sentencing Project (US) – Nazgol Ghandnoosh   New Fact Sheet: 116K incarcerated in private prisons in 2019

Related article: Psychology Today – The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research  Why the Incarcerated Are More Likely to Commit Suicide – New research examines factors that influence the suicide rates in prisons.

Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Tariq Maqbool   How I Keep Hope Alive While Serving 150 Years in Prison – In those moments when I feel like a puppet tied up in strings, I draw on my Muslim faith to stay hopeful

Related article: CBS News (US, Birmingham, Alabama)  Malique Rankin  Birmingham man released from prison after 37 years: “There are hundreds of thousands of guys in there just like me, who just need opportunity”

Related article: Hastings Tribute: (Nebraska)  ACLU Nebraska: Invest $230 million in Nebraskans, not new prison

Related article: Concord Monitor (New Hampshire) – Ethan DeWitt  Call for earlier parole aims to address over-incarceration at N.H. State Prison

Blogger Danny Shaw (UK) – Sentence nonsense

Related article: CBC Radio – Former inmate taps into her prison experience for ‘groundbreaking’ PhD research – Rachel Fayter’s work focuses on the resilience of criminalized women


The – Akela Lacy
Massachusetts’ Progressive Lawmakers Push Congress to Abolish Qualified Immunity – A bill introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren comes as the House prepares to vote on major policing reform.

Qualified Immunity is invoked every time a police officer uses force to effect an arrest or what s/he judges to be good order.  It is also the primary problem leading to the failure to prosecute abuse of police power such as when a person is wounded or killed by police.  “…qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that protects police and law enforcement officials from civil liability in cases where they are accused of violating someone’s constitutional rights…The doctrine of qualified immunity “for too long has shielded law enforcement from accountability and denied recourse for the countless families robbed of their loved ones,” Pressley said, noting that ending systemic racism in policing depends in part on ending qualified immunity. “There can be no justice without healing and accountability, and there can be no true accountability with qualified immunity.”

Related article: (US) – Sean Collins The House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – The bill bans chokeholds and would end qualified immunity for police officers.  


Toronto Star – Rosie DiManno
His name matters. The Toronto van attack wasn’t done by some ‘John Doe’

The column is written in response to presiding Justice Anne Molloy in the case of Alek Minassian, the driver who rammed his van into a crowded sidewalk and killed ten people and wounded sixteen.  Madame Justice responds to the attempt to achieve infamy in the deed.  DiManno thinks the victims deserve to be known by name as does the perpetrator and in between there is a worthwhile consideration of the role of diminished capacity specifically autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Related article: Toronto Star – Betsy Powell and Alyshah Hasham   ‘It is my hope that his name would no longer be published’: In unprecedented step, judge refuses to name Toronto van attack driver

Related article: Toronto Star – Nadine Yousif  ‘This was never a case of autism causing mass murder’: Activists express relief over Toronto van attack guilty verdict

Related article: The – Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg   Virginia Bans Mental Health Evidence in Trials. Lawmakers Could Soon Change – this proposed legislation would allow people accused of crimes to tell juries if they had a mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, or an intellectual or developmental disability at the time of a crime. The bill could have helped individuals like Matthew Rushin.

 Washington Post (US) – Keith Humphreys and Ekow N. Yankah
Prisons are getting Whiter. That’s one way mass incarceration might end. – Getting many Americans to stop seeing prisons as a ‘Black problem’ is a key to reform.

Here is a startling assessment: end mass incarceration by realizing that a higher number of White prisoners is steadily fueling the statistics.  Research says that many Americans see the mass incarceration as a Black problem and that efforts to significantly reduce the numbers depend on White America accepting that it is also a White problem.  “It’s true that the criminal justice system is suffused with racial biases that harm African Americans and Hispanics while favoring Whites. But consider some data, beginning with jails. Jails are operated mainly by cities and counties and generally hold inmates for less than a year. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that since 2000, the rate of being jailed increased 41 percent among Whites while declining 22 percent among African Americans. Beginning in 2017, the White rate of being jailed surpassed that of Hispanics for the first time in living memory. And in 2018, Whites became 50 percent of the jail population, particularly notable because Whites represent a lower proportion of the U.S. population than they have in centuries.”