Mar 10, 2021

 Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup
Correctional Service of Canada fails to track employees accused of sexual assault in prisons

At least three guards have been charged with sex crimes in recent years at The Nova Institution for Women, in Truro, N.S., representing only the tip of the iceberg say advocates, who also say:  “…the problem is fuelled by a failure to believe prisoners who bring forward allegations, a power imbalance inside institutions and an unwillingness by authorities to address sexual misconduct in federal prisons.”  While CSC tracks offenses like disciplinary actions against employees, it does not track criminal records. “…we are unable to provide specific data related to misconduct involving allegations of sexual assault,” spokesperson Marie Pier Lécuyer said. “Criminal charges that may have been laid or pursued are not captured in our data.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-correctional-service-of-canada-fails-to-track-employees-accused-of/   Related article: Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup   Group calls for public inquiry into sexual abuse in women’s prisons   “Wherever there are vulnerable people who are institutionalized, there is a high risk of them being harmed,” said Emilie Coyle, the executive director of the CAEFS. “In the case of CSC, the harm is intensified by existing cultures of disbelief.”   https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-group-calls-for-public-inquiry-into-sexual-abuse-in-womens-prisons/

Toronto Star – Alisa Lombard and Samir Shaheen-Hussain
Coerced and forced sterilization of Indigenous women and girls: This is what genocide looks like in Canada

On the occasion of the denunciation by Canada of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, foreign affairs critic Michael Chong reminds us Canadians that we have had our own form of genocide in the government sanctioned sterilization of Indigenous women. “In 2017, a class-action lawsuit was filed by two Indigenous women against physicians, health authorities, and various levels of provincial and federal governments. Over a hundred other Indigenous women have since joined, highlighting how the practice of coerced and forced sterilizations is ongoing due to the lack of concrete action incumbent on the state to prevent, punish and repair… it is about time that Canada also formally recognizes the same gendered violence it has inflicted on Indigenous women and girls here: “We must call it for what it is — a genocide.”  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/03/08/coerced-and-forced-stereilization-of-indigenous-women-and-girls-this-is-what-genocide-looks-like-in-canada.html   Related article: Toronto Star – Beverley McLachlin (Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada)   What the pandemic tells us about women’s place in our world https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/03/08/what-the-pandemic-tells-us-about-womens-place-in-our-world.html

Audrey Monette and Irwin Waller
Backgrounder: Petition to the Government of Canada for action to significantly reduce violence

The petition was started by started by Rev Frances Deverell, a Unitarian Universalist minister living in Nanaimo,  BC, and gained support from Dr. Irvin Waller, retired Professor Emeritus of University of Ottawa.   The backgrounder is extensive and helpful to understand why the subscribers are seeking support on this official government petition (500 signatures require that the government respond). The information is first on the reason for the petition, i.e. violence and the desire to reduce violence significantly but then has an appendix in which the developments within crime prevention are summarized.  http://irvinwaller.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021-03-Petition-Backgrounder-FINAL.pdf

“The petition calls upon the Government of Canada to:

Make Canada safer for all, by using evidence-based interventions to significantly reduce violence; Engage with vulnerable groups to develop violence prevention strategies; Establish a permanent office for violence prevention, reporting to the Prime Minister, to spearhead actions across all relevant ministries, in partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples, and ensure significant, measurable reductions in victimization; Redirect the equivalent of 10% of current federal expenditures on policing, courts, and incarceration towards adequate, sustained funding for effective local prevention programs.”  To sign the petition:  https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3218

Centre for Women’s Justice (UK) –
Statutory Defences for Survivors of Domestic Abuse: Proposals for the Domestic Abuse Bill and Parliamentary Launch of New Research on Women Who Kill Their Abusers

Both Canadian and US justice have noted a long standing deficiency: that women who suffer long time physical and violent abuse from a spouse and who in desperation finally kill that spouse in self-defence are frequently convicted of murder and sent to prison to serve long sentences.  The audio link is about an hour and describes how the defence of such situation should be defined in statute and calling for research to begin on such a statutory defence.  Katy Swaine Williams, a research and policy consultant leads the Centre for Women’s Justice programme to challenge the unjust criminalisation of survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. https://www.centreforwomensjustice.org.uk/news/2021/2/19/statutorydefences

Washington Post (US) – Editorial Board
Opinion: Police brutality, an investigation — and the officers get off the hook. It just happened again.

New York Attorney General Letitia James challenges the assumption used by many police officers that the subjective judgment about sufficiency to use violence, especially lethal violence, in effecting arrest needs to be changed.   Instead, James wants the rationale changed to ‘absolute last resort.’ “The system,” she said, “too often allows officers to use deadly force unnecessarily and without consequence.” Ms. James also proposed changes in how police interact with and are trained to deal with emotional distress. She wants the state to follow the lead of New Jersey in mandating a statewide system of certification for police officers.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/buffalo-rochester-police-daniel-prude-martin-gugino/2021/03/08/408dee30-77cc-11eb-8115-9ad5e9c02117_story.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_opinions&utm_campaign=wp_opinions

CBC News (Thunder Bay, ON) –
Civil rights groups object to ‘unconstitutional’ emergency order in Thunder Bay

On Feb 8, Public Health District Medical Officer Dr. Janet DeMille ordered that prisoners released from jail report to Public Health for testing for Covid-19.  If found positive, the released person is then ordered into quarantine by Public Health, a decision that critics say is illegal in that it extends the custody of the person released.  “Those who are infected or deemed to be at risk of having contracted COVID-19 must remain in isolation as long as directed. If they’re determined to not have an alternative or reasonable option, they have to stay at the isolation shelter… Abby Deshman, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s criminal justice program, said this particular emergency order is unprecedented.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/civil-rights-groups-opposed-jail-release-order-1.5941456?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar

Lawyer’s Daily – John Schofield

Ontario anti-human trafficking legislation could victimize sex workers, say critics

“Bill 251, the Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021, is currently being debated in the legislature and is expected to be passed by the provincial government later this month, building on a five-year, $307-million anti-human trafficking strategy it announced in March 2020.”  Critics have voiced concern that the legislation is too shallow and not actually based on good research and offering only cosmetic solutions to human trafficking.  Says Naiomi Sayers of the University of Ottawa:  “Legislation like this is almost never based on evidence and it actually doesn’t look at the systemic issues of what causes human trafficking,” she told The Lawyer’s Daily.” https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/25142/ontario-anti-human-trafficking-legislation-could-victimize-sex-workers-say-critics-?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal

 CBC News – Fifth Estate / Judy Trinh, Virginia Smart and Zach Dubinsky
Botched no-knock raids prompt calls to limit police tactic – Police raids under scrutiny following death of young man

Supposed to be the exceptional entry, the no-knock entry, aka dynamic entries, are becoming more common.  The entry by heavily armed police is without warning to occupants and often with a flash/bang or stun grenade.  Surprisingly, while a judge may sign off on a search warrant, it is police who decide on the no-knock.  The fifth Estate is suggesting that the no-knock is becoming the rule rather than the exception in Ontario.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/no-knock-raids-dynamic-entries-calls-limit-police-tactic-1.5942819?cmp=newsletter_CBC%20News%20Morning%20Brief_3335_249350   Related article: CBC News    Kelsie Raycroft and Sam Bahlawan say they were ‘terrorized’ by Ottawa police the night they stormed through their home. Video link: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1871114307680?cmp=newsletter_CBC%20News%20Morning%20Brief_3335_249350

 Bookriot.com (US) – Leah Rachel von Essen
The Ever-Growing Challenges of Getting Books into Prisons

Here’s a link to the state of prison libraries across the US and the efforts to get books to prisoners, especially in the light of the impact of the pandemic.  One volunteer:  “Prison libraries tend to be poorly stocked, and access limited,” says Vicki White, president of Chicago Books to Women in Prison (CBWP), a nonprofit all-volunteer organization that distributes paperback books to incarcerated women and trans people. “I’ve seen schedules posted at a prison where access was something like half an hour once a month.”  The lockdowns (7/23) to fight the pandemic in particular have spurred a significant increase in requests for reading material” https://bookriot.com/books-in-prisons/   Related article: Psychology Today – Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research    Why the Incarcerated Are More Likely to Die By Suicide – New research examines factors that influence the suicide rates in prisons.   https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/202103/why-the-incarcerated-are-more-likely-die-suicide

 Canadian Lawyer – Zena Olijnyk
Canada’s extradition laws need revamping, says Dalhousie law school professor – Schulich School of Law’s Robert Currie says too much power in hands of Justice Minister, advisers

Drawing on recent experience between the French government and Canada in the extradition of Hassan Diab Currie thinks it is time to revise the law around the process.   Currie “specifically, Currie argues in a paper published in the Manitoba Law Journal that the “committal stage” of extradition proceedings, involving a judicial hearing into the basis of the requesting state’s case, “is unfair and may not be compliant with the Charter and that the manner in which the Crown conducts these proceedings contributes to this unfairness.”  https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/criminal/canadas-extradition-laws-need-revamping-says-dalhousie-law-school-professor/353753#.YEjNtvA7rL8.twitter