June 23, 2022 

Toronto Star Editorial (June 20, 2022)
Holding officers to account – When a police service fails to police fairly and without bias, it betrays not just those caught in such discriminatory practices but all citizens.

“Changing the attitudes and actions of individual officers is where the solution to these problems – and the accountability demanded by the community – lies… Anti-racism and unconscious bias will be incorporated into use-of-force training…Such training and education is essential. But ultimately, those officers who discriminate in their policing must be held to account.”

Homeless Hub – Jessica Rumboldt
Understanding Indigenous Perspectives on Homelessness Prevention

The link to Rumboldt’s blog is helpful to put perspective on the issue of homelessness among Canada’s Indigenous population and the specific lens of homelessness among Indigenous children.  “There are three times as many Indigenous children in the government’s custody today as there were during the height of residential schools, and 70.5% of Indigenous youth experiencing homelessness in Canada have been involved in the child welfare system at some point in their lives.”  The idea is to collect and tell the stories of the Indigenous experience of homelessness and to discern ways of prevention.  Related article: CTV News – Canadian Press   Federal Court approves class-action on behalf of off-reserve Indigenous children

Toronto Star – Shari Graydon
Online abuse is costing us — especially women — emotionally and financially – This “toxicity tax” is real, it’s destructive and it’s getting worse.

“Research makes clear that beyond politicians, most of the abuse is directed at women, and the worst of it is reserved for those with historically less power, not more. This means Black, Indigenous and immigrant women, those who are lesbian, trans, gender-diverse, or living with a disability, are paying a higher price than the rest of us… And that price is often not just emotional or psychological, but also financial.”  The damage, says Graydon, is worse because women are already under represented and the evidence of the price to pay for participation in public affairs is seen in everyday social and public media.

CTV News – Michael Lee
What is Bill C-21? A look at the proposed firearm legislation and its implications

The link offers a comprehensive perspective on Bill C-21, the revision of gun laws in Canada recently introduced in the House.  The report analyses the Bill and reports statistically on the number of firearms licences, long rifles and handguns currently held in Canada.  The report also gives changes in the legalities and the penalties, as well as commentary from advocates for gun control, opponents, and police.   Related article: Washington Post (US) – Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow    Supreme Court finds N.Y. law violates right to carry guns outside home (US) – Rebecca Schuman
I Caught Two Men Stealing From My Home. The Aftermath Was Absurd—and All Too Typical.  This experience crystallized Oregon’s deeper problems.

The link offers a narrative of a break-in discovered as it happened and leading to admittedly rash behaviour by the owner / narrator, and then to a helpful and balanced reflection on what had happened in a larger context.  Schuman’s context is the proclivity of property crime to feed drug use and the priority for government and social concerns.  “The actual blight on small American towns like mine isn’t property crime. It’s that any tenable solution to it has been swallowed up into a churning abyss of extremism and perceived counter extremism. No one seems to have a convincing answer to the most basic question: So what should we do? What should I do?”

The Marshall Project (US) – Weihua 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

This distressing report puts much of the US crime stats in question and leaves academics and media quite without recourse.  Though some crime reports have their stats in the US public health, most have their origins with the FBI data base and we are now leaning that over 40% of the US 18,000 police forces, including several large cities like N.Y. and LA, do not deliver their crime stats for inclusion.  “Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies around the country did not submit any data in 2021 to a newly revised FBI crime statistics collection program, leaving a massive gap in information sure to be exploited by politicians in midterm election campaigns already dominated by public fear over a rise in violent crime.”

The Sentencing Project (US) – Ashley Nellis
Nothing But Time: Elderly Americans Serving Life Without Parole – Almost half of the people serving life without parole are 50 years old or more and one in four is at least 60 years old.

Nellis is focusing on the purpose and effectiveness of keeping older persons (defined as 50+ because of added health risks) in prison given the reality that recidivism among them is almost non-existent.  The high numbers of such persons follows from the Life without Parole (LOWP) sentences and the use of long sentences that equate to LWOP.  Added there is a factor deriving from dysfunctional parole boards.  “In 2020, The Sentencing Project produced a 50-state survey of departments of corrections that revealed that more than 55,000 Americans are incarcerated in state and federal prisons with no chance of parole, reflecting a 66% rise in people serving LWOP since 2003… Because compassionate release, whether based on chronological age (geriatric parole) or diagnosis of a terminal illness (medical parole), typically excludes people serving life sentences by statute, the only option for an early release for people serving LWOP is executive clemency. While clemency was common for older people serving life sentences sixty years ago, it was nearly terminated by the 1970s, and is still rarely used today.”   Related article:  / The Fortune Society  Vincent Schiraldi  What I Learned at the Helm of the Nation’s Most Notorious Jail  Related article: Middle Easy Eye – Umar Farooq   Guantanamo Bay: Several detainees test positive for Covid-19 – It is the first known Covid-19 outbreak in the prison, creating fears for the safety of Guantanamo’s ageing detainees

The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) – Omar Mosleh
Privatization of Canada’s part-time prison chaplains hurting inmates of minority faiths: Report – Some are struggling to practise their religion, “compromising a fundamental freedom that should be afforded to all people in Canada.”

Many may not know that Canada’s prison chaplaincy has changed considerably from a system in which there was denominational assignment and co-operation to one of a contract with a single private provider.  Minority groups had a program of part time chaplains, now no longer.  “Previously, the CSC would provide part-time contracts to faith communities on a regional basis, who would then hire, train and oversee the work of their local chaplain… Of the 71 remaining chaplains who remained on CSC’s payroll, only two were non-Christian, according to the report.”  The National Council of Muslims is asking the federal government to return to the part time appointments.