Secondary punishment…

Jan.15, 2022

Washington Post (US) – Lizzie Johnson and William Wan
The ethics of a second chance: Pig heart transplant recipient stabbed a man seven times years ago

Here’s an excellent introduction to the question of secondary punishments.  First, after conviction, a prison sentence may be imposed.  When the sentence is served or parole granted, a secondary punishment often continues under another guise.  Once out of prison, a person must pay fees, cannot be hired to do certain jobs, certain public housing is not available, certain government welfare programs are not accessible.  In this case, a man who received a pig’s heart in transplant is discovered to have gone to prison because he seriously wounded someone years previously.  The family of the victim who died later well after the incident but suffered considerably thinks that the second chance should have been given to someone more worthy.

Policy Options (IIRP, Canada) – Navjot Kaur and Bavneet Chauhan
How can we improve our criminal justice system?  Harsh crime-control policies are ineffective and lead to the racialization of the prison population. Canada needs to embrace restorative justice.

The authors offer a comparison between retributive justice and restorative justice.  They also look at the societal assumptions and structures behind each approach.  Finally they critique both for short-comings and suggest how to improve the restorative. They conclude:  “Given the failures of crime-control objectives and its exploitation of the most vulnerable populations in our society, Canada should move away from such harsh crime-control policies. We need restorative justice and a radical transformation in the way that we conceive justice and punishment.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Elizabeth Sheehy  Helen Naslund appeal offers a look into how justice system fails women who kill their abusers – The decision to cut Naslund’s 18-year sentence in half for the manslaughter of her husband is a major advance for abused women who kill.

CBC News – Kelly Geraldine Malone
Year in review: Still too many police shootings in Canada, experts say

US stats tend to minimize the reaction to the stats around police shootings in Canada but given the differences experts are suggesting our Canadian incidents and stats deserve reduction, especially in a year-by-year comparison.  Equally of concern is the failure of any independent agency to track these incidents.  In this report, the Canadian Press uses its own resource to track the 64 recorded incidents in which police shot at people while killing 32 in 2021, about the same in 2020.  Those shot are mostly young men, Indigenous and Black.   RCMP are involved in the most – 23, followed by Toronto and Ontario Provincial Police.  “I am deeply concerned by the unrelenting nature of this problem. There is nothing inevitable or natural about this problem,” said Temitope Oriola, an associate criminology professor at the University of Alberta.” (US) – Edward Pettersson
California prison guard denied immunity in suit over inmate murder by ‘psychopath’ cellmate – A mother can proceed with her lawsuit against a prison guard who placed her son in the same cell with someone tried to kill another inmate.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd in Sacramento is a significant one that effectively says there is an accountability outside the prison for decisions taken within the prison.  In this case, the mother of a person killed by a psychopathic cellmate has earned the right to sue “guard Joseph Burns, former secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Ralph Diaz and Kenneth Clark, the warden of the California state prison in Corcoran where the murder occurred.”  The judge assessed that the suit had not proven knowledge by Diaz and Clarke but found guard Burns acted knowingly and from personal vindictiveness.  The decision allows the mother to pursue her lawsuit against guard Burns.

Marshall Project (US) – Keri Blakinger
People in the Scandal-Plagued Federal Prison System Reveal What They Need in a New Director – “This is kind of like AA: To move forward, first you have to admit there’s a problem.”

There is a new person to be appointed to head the US federal prison system since Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Michael Carvajal, abruptly announced his retirement last week.  The news and the expected new appointee has prompted the Marshall Project to ask persons in federal prison what changes they would like to see.  The changes are reasonable in the extreme and deriving directly from legitimate expectations of any prison system.  Said one typical responder:  “I turned myself in on Dec. 3, 2019, for abetting a bank robbery. I had no idea I was walking into a world of sex scandals, violence, corruption, drug abuse, understaffing, suicides, abuses of power and then COVID.”   Further Tweet from Keri Blakinger:  This week, I asked a half dozen federal prisoners what they hope for from a new BOP director. Their asks are so basic: Hot water. Less sex abuse. No sewage running across the campus. Fewer drugs. They want to stop watching their friends die.

Chatelaine Magazine (Canada) – Paulette Senior
The Enduring Legacy Of bell hooks – In a context where Black women are not deemed worthy of attention and care, bell hooks stood as a visionary light.

If you look beneath the surface of US rehab material and programs you will find bell hooks. Gender stereotypes and her notions of feminism and love are the key to personal transformation from the machismo, often a powerful part of the incarcerated male.  Her approach to rehabilitative relationship, especially as a rebuttal to distorted male domination and aggression, as it has played out in much domestic and social violence, was all the more powerful coming from a Black woman and scholar offering a relational platform on which to grow in family and society.  Says Senior:   “To lead with transforming love. It’s exactly what she wrote about over thousands of pages, her life’s great work.”

N.Y. Times (US) – Tim Arango / Photographs by Max Whittaker
‘Nothing Will Be the Same’: A Prison Town Weighs a Future Without a Prison – After a decade of efforts that sharply reduced inmate populations, California is closing prisons. One town at the edge of a valley in remote northeast California whose economy is built on incarceration is waging a legal battle to keep a prison open.

The local economies often drive the prison construction and operations and vice versa.  The prison adds jobs to the town and brings money to drive business.  As decreases in mass incarceration occur, more towns like Susanville, California, face up to the closure of a prison.  “In Susanville, at the edge of a valley hemmed in by the Sierra Nevada in remote northeast California, there are nearly as many people living inside the walls of the town’s two state prisons, roughly 7,000 people, as outside. About half of the adults work at the prisons — the soon-to-be shuttered minimal security California Correctional Center and a maximum security facility, High Desert, which will remain open.”