April 16, 2022

The Lawyer’s Daily – Lea Keren
The continued elusiveness of prison justice

This commentary highlights the internal process of grievance in the federal prison system, the only process by which an incarcerated person can air a human rights violation.  “The Inmate Grievance System allows federal prisons to grieve to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). This system means that, should a federal prisoner experience racism, violence, rape or any other unlawful or unjust behaviour, the prisoner has an accountability mechanism without having to go to court. In fact, often, before hearing a court case, the Federal Court of Canada will consider whether this internal remedy has already been exhausted.”  https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/35212/the-continued-elusiveness-of-prison-justice-lea-keren-?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal  Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Christopher Blackwell   I Grew Up Believing I Was Dumb. A College Education Behind Bars Healed That Wound – “My college degree taught me that anything is possible when you show someone how to love themselves, through accountability, vulnerability and education.”   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2022/04/15/i-grew-up-believing-i-was-dumb-a-college-education-behind-bars-healed-that-wound

Ottawa Citizen – Sophie Lachapelle,  Jasmine Kainth,  Louise Boisvert
Why are people held at the Ottawa jail so vaccine-hesitant? In their shoes, you might be too – Imprisoned people must have access to information they can trust about COVID-19 vaccines. So far, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Ottawa Public Health are failing them.

The authors are graduate students in the Criminology Department of the University of Ottawa and to back their claims about the treatment of incarcerated people at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre they have started a petition.  Most everyone acknowledges that the law requires that incarcerated people have the same access to medical treatment as anyone else but the spectre of security is often superimposed.  This article outlines the vaccine hesitancy – 43% of those incarcerated at the OCDC vs 84% of the general public – and most acknowledge that information about the vaccine is almost non-existent in the jail.  The result is not only dangerous but stands in the face of the Corrections Canada claim that there is plenty of the vaccine – corrections is simply not providing information about the vaccine nor administering it. https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/lachapelle-kainth-and-boisvert-why-are-people-held-at-the-ottawa-jail-so-vaccine-hesitant-in-their-shoes-you-might-be-too  Petition seeking improved medical services:  https://www.change.org/p/compel-solgen-and-ottawa-public-health-to-address-vaccine-hesitancy-at-ocdc?signed=true

CBC News – Bridgette Watson
B.C. declared overdose deaths a public emergency 6 years ago. Advocates say the only change is the body count – Critics say province’s safe supply program is not reaching enough British Columbians

Overdose deaths are not new but are a part of the social problems for which we know the answer yet we stubbornly refuse to apply appropriate measures.  John Hedicam’s son’s life “…was cut short at age 26 when Ryan overdosed on fentanyl in 2017. At that point, the B.C. government had already declared a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis… Now, six years since that emergency was declared, an average of six people are dying daily and a total of 9,400 lives have been lost to illicit drug toxicity in the province… In that time, Hedican says, he has seen politicians mobilize to combat COVID, fires, and floods, and he is left asking why the same coordinated government efforts were not made to save his son and so many others.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/overdose-crisis-anniversary-1.6419792  Related article: BC Tyee – Moira Wyton  BC’s Toxic Drug Crisis Failure – The province declared a health emergency six years ago. But more and more people are dying.  https://thetyee.ca/News/2022/04/15/BC-Toxic-Drug-Crisis-Failure/

Breach Media – Ted Rutland
Government poll tried to skew public opinion against defunding the police – Documents reveal Public Safety Canada, in consultation with RCMP, manufactured lower support for Defund the Police movement

The link and its assertions may make you doubt any government contracted polling.  The allegation is that government agencies wanted a poll on the public support for defunding police but introduced an element of bias from police themselves in the design of the questions asked.  “Despite having introduced pro-police bias into the questions, the full poll results, which Public Safety Canada quietly posted online a month after the initial coverage, show public support for defunding the police was in fact high and was misrepresented in the media coverage.”  https://breachmedia.ca/government-poll-tried-to-skew-public-opinion-against-defunding-the-police/   Related tweet from Cindy Blackstock:   “Government documents showed 189 bureaucrats followed me to try to get the First Nations children’s case thrown out on technical grounds. It was found to be a breach of the Privacy Act but Canada has not outlawed this public service spying with no court oversight.”  https://twitter.com/cblackst/status/1514366606960480256?s=03

Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives – David MacDonald
Pressure Cooker – Declining real wages and rising inflation in Canada during the pandemic, 2020–22

This latest report examined whether wage growth had kept pace over the last two years with inflation and is in part responsible for the current inflation rates.  MacDonald concludes:  “The study finds that wages for a majority of Canadian workers has not increased at the same rate as inflation. In particular, many public sector workers who have faced salary freezes from provincial governments are falling behind… Other sectors, such as information, culture and recreation, saw wage growth above inflation levels as many workers moved toward working from home.”  https://policyalternatives.ca/pressurecooker   Full report: https://policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2022/04/Pressure%20Cooker.pdf

Washington Post – Radley Balko
Opinion: What Black cops know about racism in policing

The charges of racism in policing have been around for so long that the obvious question is how to Black officers participate in such processes?  Balko points out that 40% of the Baltimore police are Black.  “The first problem with this argument is that it misunderstands systemic racism. To argue that racism is built into policing isn’t to argue that all cops are racist. It’s that policing as we know it today was conceived, developed and honed over a period in our history during which racism was quite literally codified into the law. In much of the country, the police enforced segregation.”  Balko uses the principle of qualified immunity in the original purposes for police to illustrate the structural racism in policing.  Further, the argument against police racism supposes that all individual police officers are racist, or none, and that the racist experience of Black officers within policing can be ignored.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/04/13/black-police-know-racism-law-enforcement/

Washington Post – Nicole Dungca and Jenn Abelson
No-knock raids have led to fatal encounters and small drug seizures – The dangerous police tactic has grown in use as judges routinely authorize requests for the surprise raids with little apparent scrutiny of claims by officers

Part of a six part series on No-knock warrants and the ease of getting judges to sign off on the warrants in spite of the growing evidence that the warrants often result in unintended harm, and when examined, are often gotten fraudulently.  “But judges generally rely on the word of police officers and rarely question the merits of the requests, offering little resistance when they seek authorization for no-knocks, a Washington Post investigation has found. The searches, which were meant to be used sparingly, have become commonplace for drug squads and SWAT teams.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2022/no-knock-warrants-judges/?itid=sf_investigations_article_list