Law and Justice…

Feb 28, 2022

Winnipeg Free Press – Katie May
Seeking a new system of peacemaking – Treaty 2 First Nations developing alternative system of law

The Treaty 2 First Nations have a vision of justice based on the Anishinaabe traditions.  Chantell Barker is a spokesperson for replacing the current criminal justice system with an alternate system that goes beyond Restorative Justice Principles.  “It’s based on the Seven Circles teachings and focuses on a peacemaking tradition rather than Western law and order. It involves creating a new legal framework, court tribunal system and crime-prevention programs that are entirely centred on traditional healing… Our attitude with Treaty 2 is that we’re just going to do it. We’re just going to move forward,” she said. “Part of the problem with our laws not being recognized is that we still have to use the provincial court system… so we’re going to create our own laws and our own courts and tribunals.”  Treaty 2 website:

Toronto Star – Katharine Lake Berz
She was once left for dead in a dumpster. Now ‘Grandma Losah’ is leading a major protest movement – Grandma Losah was labelled “mentally retarded” as a child. She has overcome the traumas to lead the fight to protect old-growth forests at Fairy Creek.

This link may help one to understand how the deep seated commitment to pressing change is born and nurtured among Indigenous people – all people for that matter.  63 year old Rose Henry known as Grandma Losah, and known as a determined voice for old growth forests and an anti-poverty activist, “Grandma Losah is an Indigenous leader, an anti-poverty advocate and a community support worker. She has also been labelled an anarchist, professional agitator and workaholic. But as a child she was abused, treated as mentally retarded, and brought up in virtual seclusion.”  She brings an extraordinary perspective on a trouble life and a timeless gift to the rest of Canada.  Related article:  Toronto Star – Omar Mosleh    In the shadow of an arena: How one hockey-loving, oil-rich Canadian city is again displacing Indigenous people – Decades of choices about Edmonton’s core have tended to ignore the Indigenous and marginalized. But they haven’t gone away, and the social problems they represent remain.

Maytree Foundation – Advancing Justice Series – Laura Arndt
Indigenous Peoples and the injustice of justice

For Arndt, a Mohawk with a considerable life experience in colonial justice, the stumbling block is defined in the cultural context for Indigenous people: “The form and function of our dispossession from the land, history, and knowledges, as well as the social and economic marginalization of our nations, are driven by a notion of justice that sees our existence as a threat.”  The paralysis of the current justice system sees a hugely disproportionate number of Indigenous people incarcerated and efforts to bring change seem to bring greater problems.  Arndt is calling for a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous woman, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA, expanded resources for legal and restorative justice, national standards for the Gladue reference, and a Corrections Canada deputy commissioner for Indigenous.

Lawyer’s Daily – Vanessa Lisa Kiraly
Note on wrongful conviction of Nova Scotia man, part two

Kiraly continues her analysis (cf last Newsletter) on how wrongful convictions happen.  In a nutshell:  “…tunnel vision, false or unreliable witness testimony, untrustworthy evidence gathered from jailhouse informants and direct police misconduct. These factors adversely affect the reliability of an investigation and are commonly found in high-profile cases of wrongful conviction. When the factors that contribute to miscarriages of justice occur, it is often difficult to convince courts to reopen cases of wrongful conviction.”  Note on wrongful conviction of Nova Scotia man, part three ( addressing Jailhouse informants: )

Toronto Star / Markham Financial & Sun – Jeremy Grimaldi
‘They want people’s attention’: Supporters of Moses Erhirhie, who was fatally shot by police in Markham, seek answers

The shooting of Moses Erhirhie, a young Black man, occurred on Jan. 21, 2022 but the family of Erhirhie has had considerable difficulty getting any information about the York police involved incident; even the official death notification took a full day.  The family and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) which has 120 days to report officially have contrasting versions of the communication taking place.

Washington Post Editorial (Feb 17, 2022)
Call solitary confinement what it is: Torture

Denis Wayne Hope has been 27 years in solitary in a Texas prison, devoid of human contact except for guards and confined to the parking space for a compact car. Hope, now 53, and suffering mental illness, and sentenced to 80 years, “has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case on the grounds that his prolonged isolation is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s bar against cruel and unusual punishment.”  Advocates think there is little likelihood of getting relief.  The Post concludes:  “The Supreme Court should grant relief to Mr. Hope, and the United States should join the rest of the modern world in eliminating this cruel and inhumane practice.”    Related article:  Washington Post – Letters to the Editor  Opinion:  Another reason to end solitary confinement – Robert Chantilly Related Tweet: Molly M. Gill  On serving full sentences…“Tennessee’s HB 2656 advances in the House Criminal Justice Committee. It would make many people serve 100% of their sentences with no incentives to rehabilitate themselves, then dump them on the street with no supervision–making taxpayers pay more money for less safety.”   Related article: The Sentencing Project (US)   Successes in Criminal Legal Reforms, 2021  (Published in Dec 2021)

The Marshall Project (US) – Maurice Chammah
How Melissa Lucio Went From Abuse Survivor to Death Row – Why some trauma victims are more likely to take responsibility for crimes, even when they may be innocent.

The perspective is helpful in trying to understand why some people will confess to even serious crime and equally how trauma in childhood (ACE) can influence the criminal justice process.  “The detective handed Melissa Lucio a plastic doll and asked her to spank it. “Do it real hard,” he said.”  Lucio is scheduled for execution in Texas on April 27 for her daughter’s murder.  “Lucio’s case has been of particular interest to psychiatric and forensic experts, because it may demonstrate a phenomenon they’re just starting to understand. Survivors of trauma, they believe, are especially prone to taking the blame for tragedies they had nothing to do with.”   Related article: The Death Penalty Information Center  Kentucky and South Dakota Advance Bills to Bar the Death Penalty for People with Severe Mental Illness   Related article: New Haven Register (US) – Rev. Allie Perry   Faith Matters: Recognize our shared humanity with those incarcerated   (Connecticut PROTECT Bill – second round on prohibiting solitary)

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
What Young People Think About Youth Justice

Webster comments on this latest report from the Alliance for Youth Justice and Leaders Unlocked, with the generous support of BBC Children in Need.  In a rare perspective the young people themselves who have had direct experience of the justice system have an opinion on what is wrong and how to fix it.  The Alliance is made up of a diverse mixture of the youth population (male/female, White/ Black, including three youth while in secure custody) and are commenting about a number of elements:  “The group has a diverse range of lived experiences of the youth justice system, including of policing, stop and search, arrests, courts, Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and youth custody.”   Full report: (A 24 page downloadable pdf)