Sept 16, 2021

Amnesty International – Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
Call on Your Candidates to Act for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Amnesty wants Canadian voters to ask now what the political parties are committing to ensure the human rights of the Indigenous persons and to ensure “intergenerational trauma, discrimination, and violence” are no longer their inheritance.  Amnesty wants us to ask what specific actions after the election will the government take to end the impact of the colonial system.

Women’s Crisis Services (Waterloo Region) – Guest Jessica Hutcheson
Unpacking Incarceration and Abuse – She is your neighbour   (A 38 minute podcast)

The focus is on domestic violence and the treatment of women in prison.  The women prisoners are highly likely to have been abused in the domestic violence.  Guest Hutcheson, a Ph.d candidate, is researching strip searching in prisons. The prison practice force the women to relive their personal history of having been abused.  Beyond the problems in the strip search, the majority of women are in prison because of coping mechanisms with interpersonal and structural violence that constitute “survival crime.”

CBC News – John Chipman
Disabled inmate was forced to sleep on cell floor for 3 weeks, lawsuit alleges – Correctional Services Canada declines to comment but has said facility has ‘accessible options’ for bathing

This article is suggestive of a hole in the justice system: why would Kitten Keyes be sentenced to prison when the prison cannot accommodate her wheelchair circumstances?  Sleeping on the floor and unable to access the toilet are issues that not only reach human rights but that scar any sense of dignity left for this Indigenous woman.  “In the lawsuit, Kitten Keyes said she slept on the floor of her maximum security cell for 21 days straight in April at the Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI) in Kitchener, Ont. She also said she was left to defecate on herself on the first night when no one came to help her get onto the toilet.”

The Lawyer’s Daily – Pamela Palmater
Federal party platforms on Indigenous human rights show deep divide

Palmater starts with the concession from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) released its final report in 2019 which insists that Canada has practiced genocide historically and on an on-going basis.  Then she insists that federal political party platforms are lacking in detail and broadly comparable in generalities.  She digs deeper for a comparison of party platforms.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Innovative new solutions for prison leavers

Webster explains and innovative approach to those leaving prisons.  The Ministry of Justice made grants to small business through “the Innovations Challenge (which) aims to harness innovation from the tech sector to develop new technological tools and solutions that will help prison leavers stay on the straight and narrow, reducing the harms associated with crime.”  Among the various companies, the Ministry selected nine which seemed promising and commissioned with additional grants these nine to prototype their solutions.  Webster describes the nine prototypes.

Time Magazine (US) – Heather Ann Thompson

50 Years after Attica, Prisoners Are Still Protesting Brutal Conditions. Will America Finally Listen?

Thompson, reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Attica uprising, lists the various prisons where prisoners have rebelled this past year and notes that when no one is listening to unfair treatment “rebellion is their only grievance system.”  The Covid-19 virus in prison is part of the current malaise:  “In federal and state prisons, according to the UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project, there have been 199.6 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 80.9 in the total U.S. population.”  Thompson points out that prisoners not only experienced abysmal treatment by guards but received abysmal medical care, a condition still widely present throughout the prison system.  The thought that the conditions at Attica 50 years ago, especially the mindset that condoned what was happening then and now, are still prevalent is discouraging.    Related article:  The Crime Report (US) – Rory Fleming   Violence Behind Bars: The Hidden Abuse   Related article: Electronic Frontier Foundation – Cooper Quintin and Beryl Lipton   The Catalog of Carceral Surveillance: Exploring the Future of Incarceration Technology

Brennan Center for Justice (US) – Mary Pat Dwyer
LAPD Documents Reveal Use of Social Media Monitoring Tools – Internal records show that officers are tracking people and their connections with little guidance or oversight to protect privacy and First Amendment rights.

There are always questions about police use of social media and the boundaries for determining when First Amendment and privacy rights have been breached.  This link raises a recently discovered practice in the Los Angeles Police Department that may well be more wide spread than realized.  Police can search the social media for connections between people without authorization or consent and bury the searching without accountability.  “And beginning this year, the department is adding a new social media surveillance tool: Media Sonar, which can build detailed profiles on individuals and identify links between them. This acquisition increases opportunities for abuse by expanding officers’ ability to conduct wide-ranging social media surveillance.”

Reuters News (US) – Brad Heath
Hands-off patrol:  After Floyd’s killing, Minneapolis police retreated, data shows

Reuters has done a data analysis of what occupies the Minneapolis police officers since the killing, and the aftermath, of George Floyd.  The statistics show that all the normal activities of police are considerably reduced and that the department is also short staffed after a flock of retirements.  “In the interim, an examination by Reuters found, Minneapolis’ police officers imposed abrupt changes of their own, adopting what amounts to a hands-off approach to everyday lawbreaking in a city where killings have surged to a level not seen in decades.”  The question remains if policing elsewhere is tied to holding police accountable and whether efforts to do so have result in diminishment of police activities in other places.

Brennan Center for Justice (US) – Asia Johnson
Surviving a Daily Storm

Johnson spent nine years in prison and is now a Brennan Center fellow.  Her account of her imprisonment and the prison conditions are note-worthy for the way women are treated and sentenced vs men.  “I realized that the question of who has it worse in prison — men or women — has been beside the point all along. What is more important is the sad truth that too many are more willing to build prisons than to dismantle the conditions which fill them.”  A worthy read…   Related article: Brennan Center – Punitive Excess: America’s criminal legal system is unduly harsh. Experts explain how we got here and solutions that will benefit everyone.