May 16, 2022

 CBC News – Meghan Grant
Supreme Court rules extreme intoxication defence available for violent crimes in Alberta, Ontario decisions – Judges call for clarifying law around extreme intoxication defence in cases of violent crime

This piece of law must leave many scratching their heads for understanding both ways on the decisions.  A man gets high on magic mushrooms and savagely beats his girlfriend with a broom handle.  The aggravated assault charges are dismissed, the man is convicted on appeal and then the conviction is reversed by the Supreme Court of Canada which is saying that new legislation is needed to protect the victims of such assaults while highly intoxicated, a defense of extreme intoxication to the point of automatism.   There are several other cases with the same implications.  “SCC unanimously ruled that voluntarily taking intoxicating substances cannot replace the criminal intent required for a conviction.”   Related article: The Lawyer’s Daily – Cristin Schmitz  Supreme Court strikes down bar on using self-induced extreme intoxication to defend violent crimes

 The Walrus (Canada) – Stephen Maher
Why Is Politics Getting Nastier? With threats and harassment rising, running for office has become a dangerous job

Maher looks at Canadian elections, international political realities, and social media as well as the Muslim reaction, all surveys concluding that it is far more dangerous to be a politician now than ever before.  The immediate impact is that there are fewer good candidates to run, and those responsible for the rhetoric of division and mayhem are far more likely to be left as the only option.  The cure is not so obvious except for care over the content that all send out in the social media.   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial Board (May 12, 2022)  Harassment of Jagmeet Singh is a warning that incendiary rhetoric has real-world effects  ‘What some politicians are doing is akin to filling jerry cans with gasoline, tossing lit matches around recklessly, then expressing astonishment and innocence when the fires rage.’

Globe and Mail – Nicholas Van Praet
SNC-Lavalin gets a deferred prosecution agreement – a first in Canada

SNC-Lavalin is back in the news – this time with a deferred prosecution agreement, basically we promise not to do it again and we pay a fine.  The agreement probably reflects Canada’s best effort at a too-big-to-fail pronouncement.  The criminal charges relate to a bridge twenty years ago.  They go away now because of new integrity program with outside supervision.   “As part of a three-year agreement, SNC-Lavalin will pay a penalty of $29.6-million. It will also undergo third-party monitoring of its ethics and compliance systems by an outside law firm for three years.”

CBC News – Peter Zimonjic
Federal government announces funding to expand access to abortion services

The early reveal of the US Supreme Court draft to repeal Roe vs Wade has l4ed to consideration for the Canadian political environment.  Most would suggest that there is no chance to re-criminalize abortion under the criminal code and that Canada’s problems have more to do with equal access in remoter locales.  The federal government is announcing a $3.5 million aid to access and a further $2.1 million over three years help to make known information about the process.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Why is the whole world building new prisons?  Global Prison Trends 2022 report exposes the alarming expansion of the global prison capacity.

Webster is reporting on a new report from Penal Reform International that describes a global resorting to building more prisons.  “The report finds that, in 2021, at least 24 countries announced plans for, or started construction of, new prison facilities – in total, creating at least 437,000 more spaces worldwide. Turkey accounts for more than half of this number, and Sri Lanka one fifth, with both countries adopting United States styled massive prison complexes. The report also identifies a general trend towards bigger prisons in more remote locations, which can limit the availability of services and the ability of families to visit their loved ones in prisons far away.”   PRI Full report:  Global Prison Trends 2022   (Downloadable 64 page pdf with executive summary available)

 Forward: Breaking the cycles of crime and addiction (UK) – Russell Webster

The persistent problem of women being released homeless from prison

The problem of considerable increases in the number of women going to prison, and therefore coming out, intensifies the problem of releasing women without any prior determination of the necessities to survive release, specifically safe housing.  Chief Inspector Charlie Taylor of the Prison Inspectorate: “Without stable, safe accommodation many women are liable to have mental health relapses, return to substance misuse and become involved in crime on release, creating more victims and, at great cost to the taxpayer, repeating the cycle and undoing the good work of the prison.”

Washington Post (US) – James Densley and  Jillian Peterson
Hate is not at the root of most mass shootings

There have been already until May 2022 over 200 mass shootings in the US in 2022.  Mass shootings are defined as four or more persons killed or wounded.  Densley and Peterson offer an interpretation of these events that should prompt actual response rather than just more talk and promises of prayers and sympathy.  “Our research shows that mass shooters walk a common route to violence through early childhood trauma. If they fail to achieve what they’ve been socialized to believe is their destiny — material wealth, success, power, happiness — as they age, they reach an existential crisis point… When they no longer feel connected to the people and places around them, this becomes a suicidal crisis — except the thought of merely taking their own lives leaves them unfulfilled.”   Related article: The Manchester Guardian (UK) – Ed Pilkington in New York   Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli to be released from prison after 49 years – The oldest imprisoned Panther was eligible for parole 29 years ago but was repeatedly denied in spite of ‘exemplary’ prison record