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Aug 18, 2021

The Conversation – John D. Cameron
Canadian election 2021: Risk-averse charities, civil society groups must show up

Did you realize that normally, for fear of being seen as political, non-profits and charitable organizations go silent during an election?  Here is some advice about why it is important for both types of organizations to be heard:  “Canadian civil society organizations — both non-profits and charities — represent a wealth of first-hand experience and research on wide-ranging public policy issues. It’s important for Canadians to hear their perspectives, especially during election campaigns.”  Author Cameron is a professor of International Development Studies at Dalhousie.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Traumatic Brain Injury and the criminal justice system: A silent epidemic

Webster brings a disturbing article on traumatic brain injury discovered among people who have been immersed in the British justice system.  Hope Kent and Professor Huw Williams ask about its links with offending.  “TBI leads to impairments in memory, cognitive ability, social communication, and the regulation of emotion and behaviour. It has been consistently linked with earlier, more frequent, and more violent offending, and is a barrier to engagement with rehabilitation when services are not designed to account for the impact of TBI.”  Full report: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation / Academic Insights – Hope Kent and Professor Huw Williams  Traumatic Brain Injury

The Lawyer’s Daily – John L. Hill
Prisoner rights activism alive and well

Hill singles out two groups for praise from their specific activity around prisoner’s rights.  First, there is Queen’s Prison Law Clinic who with John Howard brought challenge to the Correctional Services holding prisoners beyond the mandatory release date.  Second, the Canadian Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights which spent two years visiting penitentiaries across Canada and then issued in June past 71 recommendations, many of which deal with long time problems in the systems.   Fukll Senate Report: The Human Rights of Federally Sentenced Persons    Related article: National Magazine / Canadian Bar Association – Dale Smith  Here’s what died on the order paper – As we head to the polls, a look at the bills that did not receive Royal Assent and are terminated.  

 UPI (California) – Zarrin Ahmed
California Supreme Court: Legalized marijuana doesn’t apply to prisoners

The court has ruled that even though marijuana is legal in California the inmates of the California prisons cannot possess any amount of marijuana in their possession.  The high court was responding to a lower court ruling that said the drug was equally legal inside the prisons as outside.  The 5-2 decision was prompted by a challenge from Nisaiah Perry who got two extra years on his sentence for possession.  California was the first state to legalize marijuana (in 1996).

Cabin Radio (NWT) – James O’Connor
More jail for Yellowknife man now convicted more than 90 times

This is a point where mental health, futility, and the criminal court systems come to a standstill.  36 year old Jacob Griep has been repeatedly convicted and sentence to custody for a host of “survival crimes” – theft, shop lifting and vandalism.  Just as the jailing did not help, nor did a period in Griep’s life in which the court spared the sentence in order to facilitate other types of intervention.  Now the court is back to jail time.  “Jail remains the only solution for a Yellowknife man now convicted of more than 90 criminal acts, a court heard, though his repeat offending is linked to significant mental health issues.”    Related article: Reykjavik Grapevine – Desirai Thompson  The Reykjavík Dialogue 2021: Conference On Gender-Based Violence Begins   Related article: Yahoo News – Biba Adams –   Florida mom says newborn died after officers ignored her during jail delivery

Georgetown Voice (US) – Annemarie Cuccia
Joel Castón, Georgetown Prison Scholar, is the first incarcerated person in D.C. government

There are 1400 people in jail in Washington, DC.  There is also an office called Advisory Neighbourhood Committee to which prisoner Castón has been duly elected by the other prisoners.  The jail Castón represents in Ward 7 is mostly Black, male and awaiting trial.  The voting enfranchisement of the prisoners is quickly becoming the issue.

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Toronto cop fired in rare dismissal for ‘egregious’ misconduct. He’ll remain suspended with pay pending appeal

The link explains why it is so difficult to fire a serving police officer, and why police reform remains a pressing issue.  The process is so cumbersome that the task borders on the ridiculous, a circumstance that should make all citizens worry about the persons to whom we confer authority, a badge and a gun.  Const. Matthew Brewer remains on the payroll of the Toronto Metro Police despite a lamentable record of charges and convictions.  The link details the history of misconduct and the efforts to confront the consequences of the misbehaviour.

Pew Research Foundation (US) – John Gramlich
America’s incarceration rate falls to lowest level since 1995

(NB Please note that this report is reflecting overall trends in the percentage number of the population imprisoned and does not reflect the more recent trends that show the percentage prison population growing again in the US)  “Most of the U.S. data in this analysis comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. incarceration rate is calculated as the number of people in federal and state prison, as well as in locally run jails, per 100,000 adult residents ages 18 and older.”  This new estimate puts the incarceration rate at 810 per 100,000 of population.