Mar 3, 2022

Sudbury Star – Harold Carmichael
Violent criminal has history of brain injuries, Sudbury hearing told – Crown wants Jean-Claude Breton declared a dangerous offender

The link offers a view of the process of declaring an offender “a dangerous offender” so the person can be held indefinitely and at the discretion of the court.  “A dangerous offender designation is reserved for Canada’s most violent criminals and sexual predators. Crown attorneys must show there is a high risk the criminal will commit violent or sexual offences in the future.”  Failure for the dangerous offender’s status could lead to either a “long term offender’ status or just regular sentencing. Breton has been already four years in custody but not yet sentenced for a string of offences.  The defence notes that Breton has suffered brain injury while in custody and while in solitary.    Related tweet: John Howard Canada –   “Dangerous Offender hearing learns of history of brain injuries, long periods of isolated confinement, injuries while imprisoned, and untreated mental health issues: Does imprisonment contribute to violence?”

KW City News – Casey Taylor
May be time to toughen punishments for youth involved in violent crime, says police chief – Waterloo Region’s police chief believes it’s time to modernize the Youth Criminal Justice Act, including rules around charging youth as adults

Waterloo Police Chief Brian Larkin who is also the president of the National Chiefs of Police Association wants some changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  Specifically, he wants to change the transfer of youth charges to adult court and wants more punishment.  Most youth justice advocates are distressed by the possibility of a return to more severe punishment and a strong belief in punishment as a deterrence, all in the name of “updating.”   Related tweet from Jude Oudshoorn:  “To rephrase a famous quote: ‘Those who love community safety must learn to organize as effectively as those who love policing’. Because when a police chief makes these statements, it tells me the police don’t know much about youth and community safety. (cf string)

 Tweet String from Hannah Riley (US):

“In 1985, Charles McCrory was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. He found her dead in their home, with hair that matched neither him nor her clutched in her hand. The only “evidence” against him was an alleged bite mark…which turned out not to be a bite mark.” The string may be helpful in pondering how the courts and the legal apparatus in both US and Canada can be stubborn and unbending when a case is found wanting by new evidence in an integrity review.

University of Washington Medicine (US)
High risk of suicide seen in formerly incarcerated people – Study findings highlight the need for better mental health and social services to help ex-prisoners transition back into community, researchers say.

Researchers in Washington state have found that people who have spent time in prison are 62% more likely than no prison time people to turn to suicide on release.  ““Incarceration is a traumatic experience that has a long-lasting impact on people,” said lead author Erin Morgan, a fellow at the UW’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) and Ph.D. graduate of the UW School of Public Health. “It affects their job prospects, housing availability and stability, and their relationships. So it wasn’t surprising there is an increased risk of suicide, but the magnitude of increased risk we found was remarkable.”

Vera Institute of Justice (US) – Nazish Dholakia
More and More Prisons Are Banning Mail

The context is clear: snail mail to a person in prison is a very valued lifeline of connection.  The letters and particularly the photos ease the stress of prison and encourage success on re-entry.  “But increasingly, departments of corrections are creating rules that obstruct mail correspondence—despite research that clearly demonstrates the impact that letters, photos, and cards can have for those behind bars.”  Electronic and video contact is difficult but also often contracted to private vendors with the state getting a share of the profits.

Vera’s Black History Month –  Reflections

Rev. Alexis Anderson on Her Black History Heroes and Seeing Hope in the Prison Reform Movement  – Erica Bryant   “A Matter of Survival”—Sade Dumas on Combating Racial Injustice in the Criminal Legal System – Erica Bryant   5 Black Heroes Who Took on the Fight against Mass Incarceration – Nicholas Turner and Erica Bryant

Hill Times (Canada) – Mike Lapointe
Feds deny delay as lawyer in multi-billion-dollar Black bureaucrats’ class-action suit calls Crown’s ‘overlap’ arguments ‘insulting’  – This is ‘the only legal action, the only class action in the history of Canada’ that addresses discrimination against Black employees within the ranks of the public service, says legal adviser Kofi Achampong.

The class action represents some 1300 persons to date “alleging decades-long government discrimination, lack of advancement opportunities, and harassment.”  The class action wants to go to court in September while government says there is too much overlap in class action lawsuits already for this class action to proceed.   Web site for the Black Class Action:

 Reuters (US) – Hassan Kanu
Court fees can criminalize poverty, major study finds

The link offers one of the first studies arou8nd the question of the effectiveness of fines and fees in deterring crime or preventing recurrence.  The study has concluded that the money collected has no impact on effectiveness and further that regarding the use of the fines and fees for revenue generating, when one weighs the money actually collected vs the amount left in debt and the administrative costs of collecting there is no revenue advantage either.   Full Document (A 25 page downloadable pdf) Criminalizing Poverty: The Consequences of Court Fees in a Randomized Experiment – Devah Pager, Rebecca Goldstein, Helen Ho, and Bruce Western   A tweet from Jeff Rybak – “Her (Tamara Lich, leader of the Trucker’s Convoy denied bail in Ottawa) treatment in bail court isn’t evidence of systemic oppression against her or against your cause. It’s evidence the system sucks. Just you usually don’t care, or notice.”  The string raises questions about the systemic injustice of the bail system and its propensity for real harm to people subjected to the process. Related article: CTV News – Rachel Aiello  First-ever Emergencies Act review committee formed   “The committee will include seven MPs: Three Liberals, two Conservatives, one Bloc Quebecois MP, and one NDP MP. As well, there would be four senators, one from each recognized group in the upper chamber.  The MPs who will join the committee have to be named by their respective parties no later than Thursday.”