Community health…

Jan 26, 2022

Toronto Star Editorial Board (Jan 24, 2022)
Toronto’s community crisis plan is a welcome shift away from policing mental-health care – ‘Toronto’s plan to implement the Community Crisis Support Service pilot program, announced last week, is welcome news.’

“Toronto’s plan to implement the Community Crisis Support Service pilot program, announced last week, is welcome news. The program will involve teams of specially trained civilians, including nurses, crisis counsellors and peer workers, who will respond to mental health calls that don’t involve threats to public safety.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Nadine Yousef   Toronto’s first-ever mental health crisis response teams — without police — to launch in March – The teams will dispatch nurses and mental health support workers instead of officers to respond to 911 calls about people in crisis.   Related article: CTV News – Brieanna Charlebois, Canadian Press   Paramedics, dispatchers call for more resources as mental health issues spike

Coventry University (UK) –
Why Are Pregnant Women in Prison?

“The link between the issues of poverty, deprivation and social exclusion are coming to the attention of the criminal justice system. This study aims to increase public understanding of how our judicial system leads to vulnerable pregnant women spending time in prison, often before conviction, while on remand, or after conviction for minor offences.”   Full report:   (A 48 page downloadable pdf)  “”We have enough evidence to support pregnant women and people in suitable facilities *away* from prisons – move to a model of care that is fair, respectful and safe for all.”

 First Nations organizations, Province endorse new First Nations Justice Strategy

BC (and the federal government) has endorsed the First Nations Justice Strategy that addresses many of the continuing tensions over the courts, criminalization of First Nations and other disputes.  The strategy includes:  “A two-path approach that transforms the existing criminal justice system and builds the path toward restoring First Nations laws and justice systems; establishing a network of 15 regional First Nations Justice Centres around the province; developing a systemic approach to implementing the Gladue decision; establishing a presumption of diversion to divert First Nations people from the court system, wherever possible; improving cultural competency in the justice system; establishing roles for Elders and Knowledge Keepers within the justice system; and increasing community justice programming in each First Nations community.”  Related article: The Lawyer’s Daily – Ian Burns   Ottawa signs memorandum of understanding with B.C., First Nations on justice strategy

CBC News – Catherine Tunney
Federal government promises probe of RCMP’s approach to sexual misconduct in the ranks – For years, critics have accused the RCMP of letting cases of sexual misconduct slide

Cathy Mansley, an RCMP constable for 24 years, thinks she succumbed to alcoholism and PTSD as a result of persistent sexual assault from other RCMP constables.  Despite reports up the chain of command, offenders carried on with immunity and the abuse continued.  In his scathing 2020 report on the RCMP’s internal culture, former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache said he heard alleged victims of sexual misconduct accuse the RCMP of letting perpetrators slide with next to no “consequences.”  The new mandate letters for government ministers include a government promise to fix this on-going problem.   CBC News: Catherine Tunney – RCMP tolerates ‘misogynistic, racist, and homophobic attitudes:’ former Supreme Court justice – More than 2,300 women have received compensation through class-action lawsuit   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Randall Denley  Ottawa’s police chief is doing little about sexual harassment on the force – Ottawa cops don’t need more years of training and committee work, or yet more sexual harassment policies and process on top of what they already have. People know what sexual harassment is. It seems some police officers are experts at it.     

Edmonton Journal – Jonny Wakefield
Lockdowns, staff shortages and ‘warning shots’: inmate describes desperate situation at Edmonton Max during COVID’s fifth wave

Aaron Moore’s appearance in court by video to answer charges for stabbing another person has led to discrepancies around the report by CSC of a second incident in which Moore claimed a guard discharged a rifle.  Moore identified the problems as suspension of the addictions program and the educational programs and a persistent lockdown, all due to staff shortages.  Says the guards’ union rep:  “Everybody is burnt right out. Overtime is being ordered, people are being forced to stay (at work).”   Reports have also persistently identified the Edmonton Max as the most toxic workplace in the prison system with the worst rates of violence at all levels.   Related link:  John Howard Society tweet:  “Mr. Moore’s testimony in court touching on Jan 8th incident at Edmonton Institution is different from CSC’s release on the event which does not mention the prisoner who was shot. Public interest in seeing video tapes of the incident.”   Related article: CBC News – Inmate, 34, dies at Stony Mountain Institution – James Flatfoot was serving more than five years for robbery, possession and use of a firearm   The Star Phoenix (SK) – Thia James   Union concerned about rising worker burnout, tensions at Sask. Pen – The RCMP and Correctional Service of Canada are investigating an incident involving a fight between two inmates on Jan. 20.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Is it possible to find hope in a life sentence?  Research into the trajectories of hope and hopelessness among men and women in the late stage of a life sentence

Given that in North America we are often of the opinion, contrary to all evidence, that the longer the sentence to prison the more effective the punishment and deterrence to more crime, Webster starts a pointed discussion about what Canadians call the ‘faint hope’ clause, and whether there is any rational point to the complete elimination of hope.  He defines hope and speaks to 33 persons experiencing life sentences, some of whom are also on parole.  One of the way stations in advance of the parole of a lifer in the UK is the transfer to an open prison.  The study has noted how the transfer within the prison system ignites a significant degree of hope.   Related article: Blogger Russell Webster reports on Refining processes in policy and practice in working with people accused or convicted of a sexual offence. By Kieran F. McCartan, H.M. Inspectorate of Probation  Full report:

Washington Post (US) – Robert Klemko
Much of America wants policing to change. But these self-proclaimed experts tell officers they’re doing just fine.

The experts go across country and offer street cop training to many of the rural and small town departments, too small for internal affairs or their own training personnel.  Efforts to reform police often fly in the face of a heavily re-enforced resistance from both trainers and politicos where the status quo is enshrined.  “The lack of oversight of police training is becoming more problematic, (CEO Mike) Becar (The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training)  said, as the national push for police reform boosts the opportunities that ex-officers, ex-soldiers and others see in providing in-service education. The founder of Street Cop Training — whose programs are accepted by the state of New Jersey — left policing less than a year before his township settled an excessive-force lawsuit against him. Texas and Montana have certified training that is offered by Richard Mack, a former sheriff who has built a reputation pushing back against gun-safety laws and mask requirements and markets himself as “the constitutional sheriff.” This November, a hacked membership list for the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government group that participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, showed that 65 members had worked as law enforcement trainers.