Blueprint for change…

June 30, 2021

Senate of Canada – Standing Committee on Human Rights
Human Rights of Federally-Sentenced Persons – The human rights of people serving sentences must be at the heart of Canada’s correctional system if its goals of safety, rehabilitation and effective reintegration are to be achieved.

The Canadian Senate has just released a major report on human rights in the federal prison system.  The report is 326 pages long (and available for download in pdf:  P. 13 is the start of the 71 recommendations – termed Calls to Action – and there is an abstract on p. 32.  The recommendations are a blueprint of all that presently ails the correctional system.  The report is comprehensive, including the legal basis in Canada and the commitments to UN conventions, and descriptive of the inner workings of the prison system; but it adds a number of appendices on the hot button topics such mental health, Indigenous persons, Black persons, and women. For anyone serious about prison reform in Canada, this report is well worth the investment.

The Conversation (Canada) – Alissa Greer and Caitlin Shane
Decriminalizing drug use is a necessary step, but it won’t end the opioid overdose crisis

The link offers a comprehensive commentary on the issue of de-criminalizing drugs in Canada, a growing theme among advocates, politicians, especially municipal, and police, and perhaps surprisingly 59% of the public support the change.  The article reviews de-criminalization as one of the alternatives to the plague of addiction but insists that de-criminalization in itself will not eliminate the drug and health problems.  Decriminalization will reduced considerable the criminal convictions for illicit drugs – 48,000 a year, mostly simple possession, reduce the costs of law enforcement, courts and prisons, put addictions in the public health column with perhaps some of the money saved, and then she lists the benefits of de-criminalizing. Related article: Global News – Callum Smith   Addressing substance use with first of its kind model in New Brunswick  Related article: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction  (EMCDDA)  Prison and drugs in Europe: current and future challenges   Related article:  CTV (BC) –  $11K worth of illicit drugs seized from federal prison in B.C.

Global News – Craig Lord
Ottawa police cancelling school resource officer program city-wide

Following the recent example of both Vancouver and New Westminster, the Ottawa school district has decided to terminate the presence of police in the schools.  Neighbouring Carleton School Board took the same decision.  The response of the Ottawa Police is to withdraw the services of dedicated police presence in the schools and Police Chief Peter Sloly suggests they will transfer the funds saved to neighborhoods, sexual assault and mental health responses.

CBC News – Catherine Tunney
RCMP looking at legal options to remove serial sexual harassers from the ranks – RCMP has wrestled with claims that sexual misconduct goes unpunished

The article offers an assessment of the effectiveness of the sexual harassment protocols within the RCMP, and perhaps what happens in the RCMP is also what happens in the military.  There are the usual loopholes – retiring early, burying the allegations by transfer, repeat offenders ignored.  The obstacles to dismissal, even for repeat offenders, are the due process of the accused.    Related article: Toronto Star – Susan Delacourt  After all the threats and online abuse, no wonder Catherine McKenna is leaving politics   Related article:  Toronto Star – Joanna Chiu   I’ve lost track of how many threats I’ve received. That’s how common online hate is   Related article: CBC News – Ashley Burke, Kristen Everson  A Muslim former intelligence officer says systemic racism at CSIS is a threat to national security – ‘I myself felt like I was being targeted at CSIS,’ said Huda Mukbil    Related article: Hill Times (Canada) – Peter Mazereeuw   How the 43rd Parliament has changed Canada’s legal landscape  Related article: NY Times – The Editorial Board (June 19, 2021)  The Two Men Blocking Military Sexual Assault Reform (UK)
  UN human rights chief calls for reparations over racism

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is calling for reparations for descendants of African slaves and for guarantees that the reparations will be with educational reforms and apologies.  “In a statement on Monday, UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet called “on all states to stop denying – and start dismantling – racism” and to “listen to the voices of people of African descent”.”  It is of note that while prompted by the US killing of George Floyd, the statement, action and report are intended to world wide application.  Related report: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  Agenda towards transformative change for racial justice and equality  Related article: Ricochet Media – Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel  We don’t need your shock, we need reparations and Land Back – It’s time to stop pretending Canada didn’t already know about the thousands of dead Indigenous children (US) – Joey Oliver
Oakland County Plans To Launch Conviction Integrity Unit – Similar units have been launched around the state and have recently led to several overturned convictions.

The article points to a growing body of district attorneys who recognize that there are far too many false convictions in the system and that part of their job is ensuring the integrity of conviction even after the conviction and sentencing.  The growing solution seems to be to establish a conviction integrity unit to review smelly convictions and pursue justice as truth rather than an oppositional contest between attorneys.  Pennsylvania and Michigan each have such a unit.  Related article: Toronto Star – Peter Edwards   She got life in prison for killing her two-year-old son, Kenneth. There was no murder.