Play it gently…

Jan 8, 2022

CBC Radio (The Current) –
Implementation will be key to First Nation child welfare agreement, says advocate – Agreement-in-principle will see $40 million going to child welfare reform and those who were harmed by system

Here is the audio and the transcript of an interview between Cindy Blackstock and CBC Radio’s Matt Galloway on expectations of the $40 billion settlement for Indigenous child welfare.  “The non-binding agreement sets aside $20 billion for compensation for young people harmed by Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system and $20 billion for long-term reform of the on-reserve child welfare system… Compensation will be made available to First Nations people on-reserve who were removed from their homes as children between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022, as well as those who were removed by the Yukon child welfare system during that same time period.”  It’ all on how the agreement plays out…

Toronto Star Editorial: (Jan 5, 2022)
Finally, Canada is doing right by Indigenous children – ‘The settlement was many years in the making, driven more by the doggedness of First Nations than any enthusiasm on the part of successive federal governments.’

“It’s to the credit of the cabinet ministers that their observations were so regretful.  It’s to the credit of the First Nations chiefs that theirs were so restrained… For their part, the ministers agreed there was plenty of shame to go around for governments past and present and for a country that chose to ignore ugly truths for far too long… “We should never have to be pushed again to do the right thing by the children of this country,” Hajdu said.”  Amen!  Related article: The Conversation (Queen’s) –  Anne Levesque   As a lawyer who’s helped fight for the rights of First Nations children, here’s what you need to know about the $40B child welfare agreements   “In particular, the CHRT (Canadian Human Rights Tribunal) found that Canada’s funding and provision of welfare services create incentives for taking children into state care, and perpetuate disadvantages historically suffered by First Nations Peoples in Canada.”

Tweet from Lisa Kerr, Director of Criminal Law Group, Queen’s University:

“R v. Salehi, 2022 BCCA 1 Important new case on how sentencing judges should consider prison hardship as a result of illness. Period of parole ineligibly for 2nd degree murder reduced in light of Parkinson’s disease.”   BC Court of Appeal document  Regina v. Maurio Salehi

N.Y. Times – Jonah E. Bromwich
Manhattan D.A. Acts on Vow to Seek Incarceration Only for Worst Crimes – Alvin Bragg has told prosecutors in his office to seek jail or prison time for only the most serious crimes, unless the law requires otherwise.

Alvin Bragg was elected on a justice reform ticket in Manhattan and now he is implementing his announced policies.  Those reform minded prosecutors — who include Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, George Gascon in Los Angeles, Kim Foxx in Chicago and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco have faced, and successfully, vocal criticism, recall petitions and even re-election.  “Mr. Bragg’s goal is to find alternatives to incarceration, especially for first-time offenders, an aim he seeks to balance with the need to keep the public safe. In the way they take into account the experiences of those who are charged, his policies resemble those of several prosecutors in big cities around the country who have been elected over the past five years.”  Perhaps prosecutorial and justice reform is here for good.    Related tweet: Alvin Bragg THREAD: “I was elected to deliver safety and justice for all. I’ve seen every side of the criminal justice system and one thing is clear – what we are doing now is NOT working. I released a plan to fix it, and here are some things I want New Yorkers to know.”   Related article: N.Y. Daily News –Clayton Guse ‘There is no way I can pay these’: Formerly homeless man left with stack of tickets for sleeping on NYC subway shows system is stacked against destitute riders

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Ontario jails spike – Failure to collect robust data on COVID-19 in jails insulates government from criticism and stops judges from assessing impact on inmates: expert.

According to Hasham, there are 16 provincial jails in Ontario now under surges from Covid with 239 active cases among incarcerated persons and a further 164 among staff.  Warkworth (in Campbellford and the Toronto South Detention Center are the leaders.  There are about 7,000 people in jail in Ontario with 70% of them awaiting trial.  There are also outbreaks in five youth facilities.  “The failure to collect robust data on the repercussions of COVID-19 in our jails insulates the government from criticism and prevents judges from properly assessing the impact of COVID-19 on prison inmates at both the bail and sentencing stage of a case,” said Daniel Brown, a vice-president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.”  Related article: Tweet from Jude Oudshoorn: Organized abandonment   “And, in Waterloo Region, Canada, too, where homelessness has tripled in the past three years! Organized abandonment has meant increases to the police budget at the expense of affordable housing. Will 2022 be a year of organized belonging and care…or more of the same?”   Related article: The Conversation (Queen’s) – Christopher J. Schneider   The dangers of Québec’s pandemic curfew and the expansion of police discretionary powers  “Because police discretion is unchecked, Québec’s curfew may be more harmful to marginalized people including Indigenous, Black and people of colour, street-based sex workers and those who are homeless, populations already disproportionately subject to over policing.”   Related article: Philadelphia Inquirer  Samantha Melamed   Panic attacks and 20-hour workdays: Why Philly correctional officers are quitting in droves