At last…

Jan. 6, 2022

CBC News – Olivia Stefanovich and Nick Boisvert
Ottawa releases early details of landmark $40B First Nations child welfare agreement – Agreement still needs sign-off from Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and Federal Court

The federal government has agreed to a “$40 billion dollar agreement to reform the on-reserve child welfare system and compensate First Nations children.”  The agreement splits into $20 billion for compensation for children – “First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022” and a further $20 billion to reform the tragically flawed Indigenous child welfare system itself, the largest settlement ever in Canadian history.  The parties have until the end of March to finalize the agreement.  More than 200,000 children and youth could be eligible for compensation. (Includes a two minute video announcement by Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu)   Related article: Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup and Sean Fine   Details of Ottawa’s $40-billion out-of-court agreements on First Nations children’s welfare released  Related article: CBC News – Trina Roache   Burden of proof – After the residential school in Nova Scotia closed in the late ‘60s, Debbie Paul was kidnapped by a nun and brought to a white family in the U.S. She always told people this, but was missing the evidence. Until now.

Toronto Star – Canadian Press
Calls grow for inmate releases as COVID-19 cases climb in Canada’s jails and prisons

Advocates for both provincial jails and federal prisons are calling attention to the threat posed to incarcerated persons and staff by the surge of the Omicron virus.  The defence against the virus mostly resolves itself to lockdowns, a further threat to the mental health well-being of the person, already long challenged by human rights groups.  The advocates are seeking the release of non-violent offenders.

Tweet from the (NY / US)

In the light of recent attention in both the US and Canada to what are called ‘survival’ crimes or shoplifting crimes committed by desperate people and parents to provide necessities – food and clothing – for themselves and their children – this is a marvellous and compassionate innovation.  Also of note, the direct commentary that a life sentence is already too much.  “Newly sworn-in Manhattan DA Bragg has instructed his staff to halt prosecutions for a handful of low-level offenses, to only seek bail in certain cases and to never seek life sentences for any crime, according to a memo sent out to employees this week.”  Included in the decision is one not to prosecute for resisting arrest, an old stand-by.  All are wondering about the new NYC mayor’s reaction.  Further reporting: The Gothamist – Gwynne Hogan  Manhattan DA Bragg Tells Staff to Stop Prosecuting Certain Offenses

Cindy Blackstock on what now…

Yesterday the government announced a plan to resolve the government initiated resistance to resolving the Indigenous children’s welfare issues.  Blackstock says the struggle is not over until those who authorized the injustices and fought their resolution even after both Human Rights and the courts spoke need to address what motivated them in order to prevent the injustices from ever happening again.  Blackstone “credits pressure from the Canadian public in resulting to today’s landmark $40 billion settlement, but she adds the fight isn’t over: “As a public, we have to keep our eye on the ball and make sure they fix themselves so that this does not happen again.”   Wise assessment…

Daedalus (US) – Bruce Western, Editor
Reimagining Justice: The Challenges of Violence & Punitive Excess

The age of the essayist is alive and well!  “Criminal justice policies of punitive excess and unequal protection under the law have sustained racial exclusion and added to the harsh conditions of poverty. The Winter 2022 issue demands that we imagine a different kind of public safety that relies not on police and prisons, but on a rich community life that has eliminated racism and poverty. Many of the solutions will lie beyond the boundaries of the criminal justice system and public policy, yet much of the work is already being done in communities around the country. And these efforts share, as the essays in this issue suggest, a common commitment to the values of healing, reconciliation, and human dignity.”  What follows in this extraordinary edition are a number of essays in support of the reform of justice and the community solution to crime beyond prisons and punishments.  The Story of Violence in America The Problem of State Violence     Public Health Approaches to Reducing Community Gun Violence     Seeing Guns to See Urban Violence: Racial Inequality & Neighborhood Context     Developmental & Ecological Perspective on the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma & Violence      The Effects of Violence on Communities: The Violence Matrix as a Tool for Advancing More Just Policies   Faces of the Aftermath of Visible & Invisible Violence & Loss: Radical Resiliency of Justice & Healing    The Foundational Lawlessness of the Law Itself: Racial Criminalization & the Punitive Roots of Punishment in America     Criminal Law & Migration Control: Recent History & Future Possibilities    Due Process & the Theater of Racial Degradation: The Evolving Notion of Pretrial Punishment in the Criminal Courts    Recognition, Repair & the Reconstruction of “Square One”   Knowing What We Want: A Decent Society, A Civilized System of Justice & A Condition of Dignity

 The Marshall Project (US) – Keri Blakinger
Mugshots Stay Online Forever. Some Say the Police Should Stop Making Them Public. As many news outlets cut back on publishing mugshots, some states and cities are grappling with a more fundamental question: Why do police release the images — and should they be allowed to?

The report and link raise important questions about the electronic media in criminal justice. How does one reverse the forever of police / prosecutor released photos of accused persons, obvious mug shots, especially when innocent or charges are later withdrawn?   Read the case of Julie Levitch, and Blakinger’s own personal case, and think about human rights and taxpayer lawsuit costs never found in police budgets.

 Tweet from John Howard Society (Sudbury, ON)

A person released on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) without support  or housing leads to this comment from Sudbury John Howard:  “Uncoordinated jail releases encourage reoffending, prisoner advocate says: Kudos John Howard Society of Sudbury! Recidivism reduction involves community support and in-reach into prisons.”  Additional commentary: – Jenny Lamothe

 The (Atlantic Canada) Alison Jenkins
P.E.I. moms form support group to address children’s mental health

Here’s a primer on how to get community support from a PEI Mom struggling with a child who has mental health problems.  “After her daughter’s diagnosis, Pound posted a message on social media to see if anyone else understood her struggles. She found a group of like-minded moms, and they began to meet and share their experiences.”