Do you trust…

June 16, 2022

 The Conversation (Queen’s) – Colette Brin and Sébastien Charlton
Canadians’ trust in the news media hits a new low

The article is a Canadian commentary on the Reuter’s Digital News Report produced by Oxford University and seeking to measure and understand the influence of digital media on the news.  Their conclusion:  “trust in the news has dropped 13 per cent since 2016. Only 42 per cent of Canadian respondents trust “most news, most of the time,” a slight drop from last year’s 45 per cent.”  While both have dropped in trust, the study suggests that Francophone in Canada are slightly more trusting than Anglophones, older people more trusting than younger.   Related article: National Observer – Janet Silver  Misleading and distrust affecting all of us

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Officers use more force against Black people, with no good explanation why: Toronto police data – Toronto police officers used more force against Black people, more often, even accounting for types of arrest, whether a person was armed, local demographics and other factors, Toronto police have found in a landmark report released Wednesday.

This is a stark admission from the Toronto Police and from their own data collection and analysis:  “Our findings confirm that Black, Indigenous, and racialized people are overrepresented in both use-of-force incidents as well as in strip searches.” (Includes video comments from Police Chief Ramer)  119 slide full report from Toronto Police Services:   Related article:  Toronto Star –  Omar Mosleh   ‘Kind of terrifying’: Numbers show racist Great Replacement conspiracy theory has found audience in Canada – Research conducted by Abacus Data asked 1,500 Canadians about their stance on conspiracy theories that have become popular during the pandemic. Related article: CTV News – Joshua Freeman  Toronto Police Service braces members for ‘difficult’ week ahead of report on race-based data collection: memo

The Hub (Halifax) – Paul W. Bennett
Restorative justice is turning Canada’s classrooms into group therapy sessions – Restorative justice flourished first in the criminal justice system

This article by Paul Bennett (Director, Schoolhouse Institute, Halifax, N.S., and Adjunct Professor of Education, Saint Mary’s University)  is challenging the place of restorative justice in the schools of Canada and suggesting that the effect of using RJ principles is to turn education into therapy.  “Restorative justice is far from a student discipline panacea. Giving students honest personal advice and career guidance is perfectly fine, but what is not appropriate, and may cause unintended harm, is turning today’s classrooms into group therapy sessions. It’s time to recognize the limitations of restorative justice insofar as they apply to its overuse in schools.”

The Marshall Project – Weihan Li
What Can FBI Data Say About Crime in 2021? It’s Too Unreliable to Tell – The transition to a new data system creates huge gaps in national crime stats sure to be exploited by politicians in this election year.

Crime statistics have always been problematic because the source for the data is often incomplete – as in when 40% of police departments do not report their crime stats to the FBI collectors.  “In 2021, the FBI retired its nearly century-old national crime data collection program, the Summary Reporting System used by the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. The agency switched to a new system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which gathers more specific information on each incident. Even though the FBI announced the transition years ago and the federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help local police make the switch, about 7,000 of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies did not successfully send crime data to the voluntary program last year.”  The gap in the stats will make any claims about crime records in the political arena unreliable at best.   Related article: Tweet from Alex Karakatsanis (US) – “Huge news: A federal judge has just issued a significant constitutional ruling against the Queens DA and various New York officials in our 1st Amendment lawsuit. The case is about what things we can tell the public in our effort to expose rampant prosecutor misconduct in NY.”   Full court document:

From Senator Kim Pate:
SENATORS GO TO JAIL: When, why and what did they find?

This link is to a 20 page Senate report on Bill C-83 and the compliance of Corrections Canada with various pieces of legislation in Canadian federal prisons.  The Senators (34 in total) visited 11 federal prisons since Bill C-83 and tabled this report.  One of the special focus points is the practice of solitary confinement.  “The Senators found that CSC practices often fail to comply with, much less uphold, the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). Correctional realities also fail to adhere to international instruments that impact the human rights of prisoners, and contradict the principles and objectives of sentencing.”  Here is their equally forceful conclusion: “Senators’ visits revealed the failure of the government/CSC to comply with the Charter, the CCRA and its Regulations, not to mention the UN’s Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.” The Senators mean to remedy the problems by Senate Bill 230.

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Coping with Covid in prison: The impact of the prisoner lockdown

Webster is early reporting some of the findings of a survey of 1600 incarcerated people in 9 UK prisons collected by peer researchers.  Among the primary concerns:  Inconsistent application of the Covid response implementations, prison staff as the primary risk for spread, security focused needs of staff vs prisoner welfare.  23 hours in lockdown in the cell, the withdrawal of activity and visitors were the key elements, mostly harder on newly incarcerated than those serving long sentences.  Expected soon – a summary executive report and a video.   Related report: Statistics Canada (June 14, 2022) – Data on adults in federal and provincial/territorial custody during the COVID-19 pandemic, July to December 2021

Southern Poverty Law Center (US) – Hate Watch – Hannah Gais, Megan Squire, Jason Wilson and Michael Edison Hayden
White Nationalist Book Publishers Revealed

The helpful question around hate groups and white supremacists is who bankrolls their operations and education.  Here is an answer, probably only partial, about the production of racist and supremacist educational material: The Antelope Hill Publishing Company specializes in translating and publishing Nazi propaganda material as well as original material for the far right and propagandist uses.   Related article:  The Center for Media and Democracy – Alex Kotch Buffalo Murderer’s Manifesto Cites White Nationalist Groups Bankrolled by DonorsTrust

 The Conversation (Queen’s) – Wendy Cukier
Canada shouldn’t be smug about gun violence — it’s a growing problem here, too

The new gun legislation bill – C-21 – calls for strengthening the screening process, the mandatory buy back of assault rifles – semi-automatic, automatic military style rifles – and a ban on the importation, sale and transfer of handguns.  Long promised by various politicians, Cukier offers a comparison of killings with guns in England, Australia and the US.  In Canada, it is no longer true to claim that handguns are an urban problem only.  The problem of smuggled guns is compounded by theft in break-ins.  “While only one per cent of Canadians own handguns, handgun owners dominated consultations on gun control proposals despite polls showing clearly that the majority of Canadians support gun control… Canadians will need to take action to ensure the new proposed laws become a reality.”

 Mother Jones (US) –
The Gruesome Attraction of Prison Tourism Is Being Challenged at Last – “I’m amazed at how numb many of us can be about these sites.”

Prisons have always had a reputation for cruelty but prisons on display as entertainment inevitably bring out questions around what makes places like these attractive to tourists.  The use prisons as entertainment for occasions like Halloween seems to be undergoing a transition to more educational purposes.