Oct 14, 2022

CTV – (BC) – Lisa Steacy
Denying bail to reduce B.C. crime a ‘dangerous’ proposition: Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The bail question has been a major part of the legal system’s reform efforts for some time.  Advocates say that 70% of people in jail at any given moment are there by virtue of the charge only, without conviction.  The bail issue, for some, is a way to control crime rather than legal right for those charged.  The bail issue often prolongs incarceration when bail is either denied or set at such amounts that the person charged cannot afford.  An added factor is the time taken to bring a criminal case to trial in a crowded court calendar.  The Civil Liberties of BC are directly challenging the crime prevention approach to bail.  Abby Deshman of BC Civil Liberties reflecting on a request to support the crime prevention view:  “It’s been talking about the need for the bail system to release fewer people, which flies in the face of the presumption of innocence and the idea that we imprison people after they are found guilty, in a way that is proportionate to the crimes that the justice system has determined they committed. It’s a really dangerous and concerning precedent to set.”  https://bc.ctvnews.ca/denying-bail-to-reduce-b-c-crime-a-dangerous-proposition-canadian-civil-liberties-association-1.6108211  Related article: CTV News (Northern Region) – Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press   How stereotypes led to the deaths of two Indigenous men in Thunder Bay police custody: expert  https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/how-stereotypes-led-to-the-deaths-of-two-indigenous-men-in-thunder-bay-police-custody-expert-1.6107201   Related article: The Crime Report – TCR Staff  Over Half of Illinois State’s Attorneys File Lawsuits Against Bail Reform  https://thecrimereport.org/2022/10/13/over-half-of-illinoiss-states-attorneys-file-lawsuits-against-bail-reform/    Related article: Prison Policy Initiative – Wendy Sawyer   All profit, no risk: How the bail industry exploits the legal system  https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/bail.html  Related article: The Crime Report – TCR Staff  Inflation Takes Toll on Incarcerated and Their Families  https://thecrimereport.org/2022/10/12/inflation-takes-toll-on-incarcerated-and-their-families/   Related article: Jeff Reisman Law  (May 2022) –  Bail 101: Your Guide to Bail in Canada  https://www.jeffreismanlaw.ca/bail-101-your-guide-to-bail-in-canada/

 Yale Law School (US) – Alex Karakatsanis
The Punishment Bureaucracy: How to Think About “Criminal Justice Reform”

While the article is dated – two years old – one may safely argue that not enough has changed yet to impact its wisdom.  Very pointedly, Karakatsanis, an outspoken critic of the legal system focused on poor people, is suggesting that the very notion of prison mandates a reform approach.  Prison is, in itself, with its focus almost exclusively on punishment, flawed to start with.  “The emerging “criminal justice reform” consensus is superficial and deceptive. It is superficial because most proposed “reforms” would still leave the United States as the greatest incarcerator in the world. It is deceptive because those who want largely to preserve the current punishment bureaucracy—by making just enough tweaks to protect its perceived legitimacy—must obfuscate the difference between changes that will transform the system and tweaks that will curb only its most grotesque flourishes.”  https://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/the-punishment-bureaucracy

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs) show promise

Webster is reporting on a five year operational assessment for PIPEs or Psychologically Informed Planned Environments, part of the British parole system, and used sometimes with those still in prison and sometimes with those on parole in hostels.  There are variants of the approach whether within prisons or hostels, and some additional obstacles in the hostel environment.  https://www.russellwebster.com/psychologically-informed-planned-environments-pipes-show-promise/

 Prison health…

Tweet from Beth Shelburne (US):  Alabama parole and mass incarceration   “Oh my God. Alabama’s parole board only granted TWO paroles for the entire first week of October. Two out of 124 cases considered. That’s a 98 percent denial rate.”  https://twitter.com/bshelburne/status/1580290798628655104?s=03

Tweet from Keri Blakinger (US) – Texas prison conditions “This description of the “depravity” in the Harris County jail – written in a court filing by a pro se inmate – is absolutely wild, and even worse than I reported.”  https://twitter.com/keribla/status/1579857030101467137?s=03

The Nation.com (US) – Loune Viaud, Pierre Fritznel, Louise Ivers and Eric Reinhart
A Cholera Outbreak in a Haitian Prison Threatens to Kill Hundreds within Days – A deadly epidemic is surging in a penitentiary built for 800 people but containing nearly 4,000. Without immediate inmate release and medical care, hundreds may soon be dead.

The death toll results of a cholera infection could be as high as 50% of the prison population. Though severe the infection is seated in other prison realities – notably the lack of adequate medical services and nourishing, adequate food – that make matters worse: “Without treatment, the mortality rate from cholera can be as high as 50 percent. In the case of Haiti’s National Penitentiary, many of those inside are severely malnourished and have been subjected to intensively health-deteriorating conditions for months on end; they are likely to face high rates of mortality if left without treatment. Most of the time, prisoners are locked in cells without toilets. Buckets shared between cellmates serve as latrines. Food and clean drinking water, already only intermittently provided in ordinary times, have been in shorter supply due to the national fuel and security crisis. News has repeatedly leaked that dozens of incarcerated people have starved to death due to being left for up to two months without food.”  https://www.thenation.com/article/world/haiti-prison-cholera-outbreak/

Tweet from Alex Karakatsanis (US):  Houston Police Funding   “THREAD. Yesterday’s events in Houston should serve as a wake-up call for all people of good will in the United States. We saw a mobilized fascist police force take over a local government meeting considering police funding, intimidating and booing legislators and witnesses.”  https://twitter.com/equalityAlec/status/1580269275415080961?s=03

 The Crime Report (US) – James Van Bramer
‘Integrated’ Justice Agency in Each State Could Strengthen Public Safety

The Oregon Law Review is offering a rather unique resolution to the myriads of problems in the police, crime and legal systems of the country: “Instead of trying to fix individual parts of the justice system, states should create a single regulatory agency that manages and sets standards for police, courts, and corrections, proposes an Oregon Law Review paper… Our so-called criminal justice system is in fact a disorganized mélange of poorly supervised police departments, over-aggressive prosecutors, under-funded public defenders, chaotic criminal courts and overcrowded, under-controlled prisons and jails,” the paper says.”  https://thecrimereport.org/2022/10/12/paper-calls-for-integrated-justice-agency-in-each-state-to-accelerate-reforms/   Full report: Criminal Justice through Management: From Police, Prosecutors, Courts, and Prisons to a Modern Administrative Agency   Edward L. Rubin, Vanderbilt University – Law School; Malcolm M. Feeley, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall)   https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4211714  Related tweet:  Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (Atlanta, Ga) – “An ACLU analysis of Fulton County’s inmate population found the jail overcrowding crisis is mainly driven by delayed indictments, unaffordable bail, and the underuse of diversion programs.”  Atlanta Journal-Constitution – William Nobles III  Nearly half of Fulton’s jail inmates are unindicted, ACLU study finds   https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/nearly-half-of-fultons-jail-inmates-are-unsentenced-aclu-study-finds/F6LEZ6ZTSREO7FCNRDZN2XZBYQ/  

University of Bath (UK) –  Cleo Goodman, Basic Income Conversation
Universal Basic Income – where are we now?

Goodman credits the arrival of the Covid and the inaccessible workplace with a current impetus for the guaranteed income for all.  Because income support was not part of the UK response, Goodman also suggests that the refusal to embrace the opportunity for basic income allowed us yet again another illustration of what the piecemeal approach to income brings.  “Basic income debate is not just about the policy itself. It is inevitably a conversation about what social security, in the truest sense, actually looks like in the UK. That’s why it is so often positioned alongside comprehensive public services, reforms to housing and better working conditions. The idea of a basic income evokes an inkling of what financial security might feel like and can open up national conversations about what policies are needed to achieve security at a point in history where that needs to be a key focus for the country.”  https://blogs.bath.ac.uk/iprblog/2022/10/10/universal-basic-income-where-are-we-now/

The Conversation (Queen’s) – Daniel Myran and Yaron Finkelstein
Legalizing cannabis led to increased cannabis poisonings in Canadian children. It could get a whole lot worse.

It has been four years since the legalization of non-medical marijuana and the focus of this assessment is the rise in the number of children showing up in emergency rooms from ingesting marijuana edibles.  One of the new factors in this discussion now is the growth of the commercial interests in non-medical marijuana in the face of this increase appearance in emergency rooms.  Another factor for comparison purposes is that Quebec did not allow the sale of edibles and had much lower rates of child intoxication.  “The largest increases in emergency department visits due to cannabis occurred when the legal market began carrying new high-potency products and the number of cannabis retail stores rapidly expanded. These increases overlapped with much of the COVID-19 pandemic so it is hard to disentangle whether they reflect changes from legalization, a response to COVID-19 related stressors or a combination.”  https://theconversation.com/legalizing-cannabis-led-to-increased-cannabis-poisonings-in-canadian-children-it-could-get-a-whole-lot-worse-191938?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2014%202022&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2014%202022+CID_ff866fab00f2780a6ca90af3aca952d0&utm_source=campaign_monitor_ca&utm_term=Legalizing%20cannabis%20led%20to%20increased%20cannabis%20poisonings%20in%20Canadian%20children%20It%20could%20get%20a%20whole%20lot%20worse

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies – Roger Grimshaw
Imprisonment for Public Protection: Psychic Pain Redoubled

Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) is the UK equivalent of our Canadian indeterminate sentence. Many think that long sentences share some of this problem as well.  “The “toxic” Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence should be abolished as a matter of urgency, to restore a sense of justice and hope, according to our new report, released this week. The report, Imprisonment for Public Protection: Psychic Pain Redoubled, assembles evidence from a variety of sources. It identifies, at each stage of the sentence, an enduring pattern of discouragement and distress, culminating in despair, self-harm and suicide for a significant number.”  https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/publications/imprisonment-public-protection-psychic-pain-redoubled

The Texas Innocence Project and Reason.com (US) – Billy Binion
Adnan Syed’s Exoneration Shows How Hard It Is To Free Innocent People – Convincing evidence of his innocence has been available for years. But the criminal legal system prioritizes procedure and bureaucracy over liberty.

The article has not only wrongful conviction, incompetent lawyering, but also the stubborn resistance of the system to recognize the errors and to effect a new trial, which never happened.  “Syed’s conviction was vacated last month, and today, prosecutors in Maryland dropped the charges. That’s not a result of the new trial, which you would be forgiven for not knowing about, because it never happened… But the trial-that-wasn’t is still important to this story, as it says a lot about the lengths to which the U.S. criminal legal system goes to protect the integrity of wrongful convictions, despite that being an oxymoron.”  https://reason.com/2022/10/11/adnan-syeds-exoneration-shows-how-hard-it-is-to-free-innocent-people/

Albuquerque Journal (US) – Dan Boyd
Governor rescinds four proclamations as colonial legacy lingers

Perhaps a lesson for Canada as well.  The current governor has rescind several former historic governor decrees that excluded Native Americans from the census and from the vote.  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, citing the four resolutions as part of our “shameful history… rescinded via executive order on Indigenous Peoples Day, among other things, described certain Native American tribes as “outlaws” and barred tribal members from being included in official census counts… We can never rewrite history or undo the injustices of the past,” the governor said in a statement. “But we can work together to heal old wounds and build stronger bonds between us.”  https://www.abqjournal.com/2539374/governor-rescinds-4-shameful-proclamations-from-nms-territorial-past.html

The Marshall Project (US) – Patrick Doolittle
“The Zo”: Disorientation and Retaliatory Disorientation in American Prisons

Doolittle, a student at Yale, earned extra-ordinary praise from his professor for this essay, signaling creative and scholarly analysis on a new perspective drawing attention to a seldom heard commentary on the interaction between guards and the incarcerated and the impact on the mental health of the incarcerated.  The ‘Zo’ is prison talk for the Twilight Zone.  By ‘disorientation’ Doolittle means “a state of mental confusion… and a feeling that they have no sense of truth and no control over what happens to them.” Doolittle understands that any confinement is by nature disorienting and prison staff as disorienting agents by definition.   ‘Retaliatory disorientation’ is widely defined as any act of retaliation by prison staff for acts other than misbehavior “uniquely disorienting in character” for the incarcerated person.  https://www.themarshallproject.org/documents/6788675-The-Zo-Disorientation-and-Retaliatory  (A 76 page downloadable PDF)