Not in prison…

Nov. 1, 2021

APTN News – Brett Forester
Ottawa appeals court decision upholding cash for First Nations kids – Government pledges to try and negotiate solution before actively litigating case

The news of continuing litigation over the Human Rights and Court ordered resolution to the payments owed Indigenous children is even more distressing given the election suggestions of new beginnings between the federal government and Indigenous people.  How can anyone take the resolution seriously if the people most impacted – the children – remain without resolution.  “The Canadian government has appealed a Federal Court decision to uphold compensation for First Nations families torn apart by the deliberately underfunded child-welfare system.”  Spokesperson Cindy Blackstock:  “I’ve always felt like this case is about ending discrimination against kids and trying to make some reparations for the victims that were hurt,” said Blackstock, executive director at the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. “It’s disturbing to see that the federal government is not yet fully able to put down its sword of litigation against First Nations children.”  Related article: First Nations Caring Society – I am a witness   Related article: Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup and Sean Fine   Ottawa files notice of appeal on Indigenous child welfare ruling, but plans to hold settlement talks

CBC News – Peter Zimonjic
Only 484 marijuana pardons have been granted since program started in 2019 – Critics say cumbersome process discourages many from applying

In two years there is a dismal record for the process of granting a “record suspension” for marijuana possession convictions.  The government accepted that some sort redress for those with records for minor possession but by-passed a blanket expunging in favour of an application process and individual decisions with a fee. Patricia Erickson, a professor of criminology and drug policy expert at the University of Toronto, said:  “The process has become costly, cumbersome and requires a lot of form filling that not everyone can negotiate.  A blanket pardon is the only thing that would have any real impact.”

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) – Richard Garside, Director
A Woman’s Place is not in Prison

The UK has been struggling with prison terms for women with small children or pregnant women for some time.  What is startling about these reports are the scant numbers who are sentenced to more than two years and the equally scant number that need to be in custody to protect the public.  Garside is outspoken that these short sentences do little for justice, little for those sentenced and much less for the children left outside the prison walls.  Time to end prison as an option.  Related article:  Prison Policy Initiative – Emily Widro  Incarceration shortens life expectancy – Each year in prison takes 2 years off an individual’s life expectancy. With over 2.3 million people locked up, mass incarceration has shortened the overall U.S. life expectancy.

Netflix – Ava DuVernay
The 13th

The link is to a full feature film on the US 13th Amendment, the prohibition of slavery, except in the case of people convicted of crime and sentenced to prison.  The 1hour 40 minute film reviews the history of the impact of the practice of convict labour on African Americans and other minorities.  The present reality remains powerfully offensive and is described in the additional links.  The film has already earned much admiration and acclaim and features major justice spokespersons. “Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards. US Rating: TV-MA For mature audiences. May not be suitable for ages 17 and under.

Mother Jones (US) – Madison Pauly
A Private Prison Company Just Lost a Major Battle Over $1-Per-Day Wages for Immigrant Workers – The GEO Group could be on the hook for millions in damages.

One of the issues in both state and private prisons is the question of what the work of a prisoner is worth and if that work can be required at very low pay rates.  In this case the private prison is CEO Group, one of the most notable.  The largest component of the cheap labour comes from ICE detainees at immigration detention centers.  “After years of legal challenges to this system, a federal jury decided Wednesday that the company must pay the state’s minimum wage—$13.69 per hour—to the detainees working inside one of its for-profit immigration detention centers… The lawsuit, brought by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on behalf of the people in the 1,575-bed Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, has the potential to force the GEO Group to pay millions in damages.”

N.Y. Times (US) – Robin Stein, Haley Willis, Brenna Smith, Natalie Reneau, Rumsey Taylor, David Kirkpatrick, Steve Eder, Kim Barker and Michael Beswetherick
Pulled Over – An investigation into traffic stops across America and the deaths of hundreds of motorists at the hands of police.

The Times is calling this article ‘a visual investigation’ and is suggesting that a review of the film available on over 100 police traffic stops reveals police who take actions to put themselves in danger before the death of an innocent driver occurs.  “We found a striking pattern. In dozens of incidents, footage shows, officers made tactical mistakes that put themselves in positions of danger — walking into the path of a car, reaching into a window, jumping onto a moving vehicle — then used lethal force to defend against that danger… Criminologists call this “officer-created jeopardy.” But it often goes unexamined in deadly-force cases.”  Related article: N.Y. Times (US) – David D. Kirkpatrick, Steve Eder, Kim Barker and Julie Tate  Why Many Police Traffic Stops Turn Deadly

The Lawyer’s Daily – Amanda Jerome
Ontario invests over $72 million to address ‘unprecedented backlog of criminal cases’

The backlog of cases in the Ontario court system is so large the province has decided to invest a further $72 million over the next two years in an attempt to return to pre-pandemic levels of case clearance.  AG Doug Downey:  “This new investment will support the work of prosecutors and police to hold offenders accountable and stand up for victims of crime as they seek justice.” The money includes a review by experienced prosecutors to blitz regions for certain crimes and bring quick resolution.