Thursday, April 30, 2015

Delayed Paroles Pose Safety Risk, Cost Taxpayers: AG Report
"Correctional Services Canada has agreed to look into why the vast majority of offenders are remaining behind bars past their first parole eligibility date.

Today’s auditor general’s report detailing Corrections measures for preparing male offenders for release concluded that 80 per cent of male prisoners in Canada are still incarcerated past their first opportunity for parole. And 54 per cent of offenders are being released directly from penitentiary only on their statutory release date – most from medium and maximum security prisons – instead of being slowly introduced back into the community.

This poses a risk to the community, the report concludes. Studies show a slower reintegration of offenders into the community increases their chances of a successful return to life on the outside, and reduces their risk of reoffending.

Delays in parole also increase the load on the taxpayer, as it’s three times more costly to keep a prisoner incarcerated than to supervise him in the community. Since March 2011, custody costs have risen by more than $90 million. Although admissions into federal custody have not increased, the report says the rise in cost is due to offenders serving larger stretches of their sentences behind bars."

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From Warriors to Guardians
"Fundamental changes to both internal and external policing culture are needed to transform cops from 'warriors' to 'guardians', argue Sue Rahr and Stephen Rice, in the latest paper from the Harvard Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.

The strict military structure and protocol of many police precincts defines how officers view their jobs and expectations for use of power on the streets, write Rahr and Rice in their paper, the product of a series of conferences that during the last six years targeted major law enforcement policy issues."

View the Full Report


When Cops Check Facebook
"America's police are using social media to fight crime, a practice that raises troubling questions.

In 2012, Brooklyn police officer Michael Rodrigues arrested a burglary gang, the Brower Boys, by adding gang members as friends on Facebook. The day of the arrest was like gathering the lowest-hanging fruit. 'It’s break-in day on the avenue,' one gang member posted in his status message. Officer Rodrigues and colleagues tracked the gang members to the avenue in question. They photographed the young men committing the crime, and then arrested them....

...Social media can produce evidence in some cases, but it also fails to capture the complexity of human relationships—and can sometimes distort them. For this reason, it is important to take care that social media data is not misused or misinterpreted in the pursuit of justice."

Related article on Facebook's impact on the justice system 

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Vital Intelligence Gathering or Meddling?  Police Across Canada under Growing Pressure to Stop Carding People
"You’re a cop on patrol at 3 a.m. and you see someone walking down an alley. Is it OK to stop that person and ask for ID? What if everything checks out? Should you still make a record of that encounter?

For many police agencies the answer is yes — you never know when that record might come in handy in a future investigation.

But consider the case of Desmond Cole, a 33-year-old Toronto journalist who says he has been stopped, questioned or followed by police more than 50 times in Ontario. At what point, he asks, does intelligence gathering become meddling and intrusion? Is it fair that police have now accumulated, as Cole suspects, an internal database of his many alleged encounters when he did nothing wrong?"

Related video:  Ex-Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Talks Carding on Metro Morning

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Good is a Video You Can't See?
"Police body cameras are meant to be a tool of public accountability.  But even experts can't agree on how to make sure that happens.

Body cameras were introduced as a tool of public accountability, but making their videos available to the public might be too fraught, too complex, and too expensive to actually put into practice.

Much of the ambiguity around body cameras comes down to this: Despite their general popularity, despite being the only policy change called for by the family of Michael Brown, body cameras are a little weird. They are both a way for the public to see what police officers are doing and a way for people to be surveilled. If a body-cam program, scaled across an entire department, were to release its footage willy-nilly, it would be a privacy catastrophe for untold people. Police-worn cameras don't just capture footage from city streets or other public places. Officers enter people's homes, often when those people are at their most vulnerable"

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Craig Forcese and Kent Roach: The Real Agenda Behind Bill C-51
"As criticism mounts over the federal government’s controversial new security legislation, Bill C-51, the Conservatives have fallen back on a series of point-form justifications—one of which is that the new law would 'Allow CSIS agents to speak with the parents of radicalized youth in order to disrupt terrorist travel plans.'

Certainly, no reasonable person could object to such a policy. But government agents already perform such family interventions under existing legal rules. So why mention this example in official talking points, unless the object is to distract attention from the many areas in which CSIS powers will be expanded in unsettling ways?

...Government counter-subversion campaigns—which involve the infiltration and surveillance of anarchists and other radical groups that seek to overthrow the existing social, economic, and political order—were abandoned by CSIS years ago. However, the powers were never deleted from the statute, as recommended by CSIS’s review body, the Security Intelligence Review Committee. So CSIS’s power to engage in counter-subversion technically remains on the books, only a change in government policy away from being reactivated.

This fact raises legitimate concerns that, under Bill C-51, CSIS will be able to play 'dirty tricks' on protesters it believes are attempting to undermine Canada’s constitutional system of government. That would be darkly ironic, given that one of the reasons CSIS was created as a pure intelligence agency in the first place was public anger over the litany of rogue, illegal activities perpetrated by the RCMP in the 1970s."

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In Finland's "Open Prisons", Inmates have the Keys
“'It’s quite relaxing to be here,' says Hannu Kallio, a convicted drug smuggler. 'We have bunnies.'

The 70 inmates in this facility go to work every day in the greenhouse. Today, they’re potting seedlings in preparation for a big spring sale. And yes, there’s a pen of bunnies to hang out with and pet. There are also sheep.

But there aren't any gates, locks or uniforms — this is an open prison. Everyone at the Kerava open prison applied to be here. They earn about $8 an hour, have cell phones, do their grocery shopping in town and get three days of vacation every couple of months. They pay rent to the prison; they choose to study for a university degree in town instead of working, they get a subsidy for it; they sometimes take supervised camping and fishing trips."

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Failure, Thy Name is Criminal Justice
"Last Friday, The Harvard Law Review published a series of trenchant essays on criminal justice, the most personal and provocative of which was a piece written by Alec Karakatsanis titled 'Policing, Mass Imprisonment, and the Failure of American Lawyers.'  Attorneys have failed to protect their clients and the citizenry at large on two basic levels, Karakatsanis wrote....

That same day, also at Harvard Law School, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who has become the archangel of candor on criminal justice reform, gave a memorable speech in which he candidly blasted lawyers for abdicating their responsibility “to help create a safe, fair, and just society even when legal issues, in the narrow sense, are not directly at stake.”

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What the U.S. can Learn about Prison Reform Efforts Throughout the World
"It should come as no surprise that with the worst incarceration rate in the world, the United States has a massive problem on its hands.

With roughly 716 of every 100,000 U.S. residents behind bars, the U.S. locks up nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s prison population. Worse yet, when American inmates are released, they are extremely likely to return. The most recent recidivism data for state prisoners, reported by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, shows 68 percent are back behind bars within three years.

Efforts to reduce the American prison population that are already underway, including a push for drug-sentencing reform and some new investments in rehabilitation programs, have had some success. Last year, the federal prison population declined for the first time in over a decade.

Still, there’s still a long way to go -- and a lot American policymakers could learn from progress made in other parts of the world. Here are some unexpected places where prison reform efforts are having an impact...."

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Penal Reform International: Global Prison Trends 2015

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Audrey Macklin: European Politicians Envy Canada's Points System for Migrants. But how well has it Worked?
"When political parties across the world complain about their own country’s 'inefficient' way of coping with immigration, they frequently refer to us in Canada. The points system' of selecting permanent immigrants according to their human capital – as calculated according to age, education, occupation, language ability and optional job offer – holds out the promise that the immigration system can do what eugenics could not: control entry into the political community of only the best and the brightest. And the fact that a Conservative government manages to cater to its anti-immigrant base while cultivating a substantial immigrant vote arouses curiosity and envy among European politicians of all stripes....

...Yet much of this must now be framed in the past tense, because the present Conservative government is busily dismantling the pillars of Canada’s immigration and integration system, including the points system...."

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Kelly Hannah-Moffat: The Problem with Solitary Confinement
"It’s a practice that has been in the news since the Ashley Smith case first made headlines and, last week, the Ontario government announced it had launched a review of its solitary confinement policies.

Kelly Hannah-Moffat is an expert on prisons, risk assessment and punishment, particularly as experienced by women and marginalized populations. A professor of sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and director of the Centre of Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, she spoke with writer Jenny Hall about the practice – what is it, what is it supposed to accomplish, and how is it being used?"

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Moneyballing Justice: "Evidence-Based" Criminal Reforms Ignore Real Evidence
"Proponents of the new wave of 'criminal justice reform' claim that their efforts are nonpartisan, non-ideological and 'evidence-based.'

This 'evidence-based' frame asserts that mass incarceration and 'overcriminalization' will be remedied by a handful of sentencing reforms affecting 'low-level' offenders. An essential element of such reform is the widespread use of 'evidence-based risk-assessment' instruments to purportedly help authorities objectively determine who is 'dangerous' - and therefore must remain in prison - and who is not.

This isn't a miracle cure; it is a lavishly funded public relations campaign advancing unfettered free-market 'solutions' to criminal justice dilemmas and the politics of austerity. 'Bipartisanship' is driven by a right-wing agenda and support from a constellation of libertarian and neoliberal economic interests. It is funded by Koch Industries and a handful of foundations and deep-pocketed donors. Yes, some high-profile people and groups considered liberal have signed on - but to messaging and strategic direction already established by the right."

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Communication Security Establishment's Cyberwarfare Toolbox Revealed
"Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada's electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Revelations about the agency's prowess should serve as a 'major wakeup call for all Canadians,' particularly in the context of the current parliamentary debate over whether to give intelligence officials the power to disrupt national security threats, says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, the respected internet research group at University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs."

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The Radical Humaneness of Norway's Halden Prison
"To anyone familiar with the American correctional system, Halden seems alien. Its modern, cheerful and well-­appointed facilities, the relative freedom of movement it offers, its quiet and peaceful atmosphere — these qualities are so out of sync with the forms of imprisonment found in the United States that you could be forgiven for doubting whether Halden is a prison at all. It is, of course, but it is also something more: the physical expression of an entire national philosophy about the relative merits of punishment and forgiveness."

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Anti-Homeless Spikes: "Sleeping Rough Opened my Eyes to the City's Barbed Cruelty"
"Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have warned that homelessness in London is rising significantly faster than the nationwide average, and faster than official estimates. And yet, we don’t see as many people sleeping rough as in previous economic downturns. Have our cities become better at hiding poverty, or have we become more adept at not seeing it?

...The phenomenon of “defensive” or “disciplinary” architecture, as it is known, remains pervasive.

From ubiquitous protrusions on window ledges to bus-shelter seats that pivot forward, from water sprinklers and loud muzak to hard tubular rests, from metal park benches with solid dividers to forests of pointed cement bollards under bridges, urban spaces are aggressively rejecting soft, human bodies.

'When you’re designed against, you know it,' says Ocean Howell, who teaches architectural history at the University of Oregon, speaking about anti-skateboarding designs. “\'Other people might not see it, but you will. The message is clear: you are not a member of the public, at least not of the public that is welcome here.' The same is true of all defensive architecture. The psychological effect is devastating.

...Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations, especially in retail districts. It is a symptom of the clash of private and public, of necessity and property."

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Canadian Democracy has Declined under PM Harper, say Bourrie, Harris
"Democracy has suffered under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, say two prominent political authors who compared the effect of the Conservative regime over the past nine years to a 'fibrous tumour.'

The criticism came at a Broadbent Institute Progress Summit panel discussion headlined 'The Great Unravelling: Why it Matters How Canada has become Less Democratic.'

Mark Bourrie, author of Kill the Messengers, and Michael Harris, author of Party of One, focused on aspects of Mr. Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) governing style that they exposed in their research and writing—the centralization of power in the PMO, Mr. Harper’s extreme-discipline manner of exercising power, the way Mr. Harper has held sway over his MPs as well as the public service and the iron grip he has put on government information and its dissemination."

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A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement - ACLU Report

Report Summary:
  • Background - Explore the the early failure of solitary confinement, the misguided return of solitary confinement int he late 20th century, and the renewed consensus: solitary is a dangerous and expensive correctional practice.
  • Solitary Confinement increases crime - Solitary permanently damages people who will one day return to Texas communities. The consequences of overusing solitary is more crime in Texas communities.
  • Solitary is a huge cost to taxpayers - Solitary confinement costs Texas taxpayers at leas $46 Million a year.
  • Overuse of solitary increases prison violence – Solitary confinement makes prison less safe and deprives officers of the option to incentivize good behavior. Violence escalates when officers deny people in solitary basic needs. Other states have improved prison safety by reducing solitary confinement.
  • Mentally ill people deteriorate - The universal consensus: never place the seriously mentally ill in solitary. Yet, Texas sends thousands of people with mental illnesses to solitary confinement and inadequately monitors and treats them.
View the Full Report

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Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavit - 2015.  Corrections in Nunavut - Dept. of Justice
"This audit focused on whether the Nunavut Department of Justice was meeting its key responsibilities for inmates within the corrections system. We audited whether the Department of Justice:
  • adequately planned for and operated facilities to house inmates, and
  • adequately managed inmates in compliance with key rehabilitation and reintegration requirements.
...We concluded that the Department of Justice has not met its key responsibilities for inmates within the correctional system. We concluded that the Department of Justice did not adequately plan for and operate facilities to house inmates, and did not adequately manage inmates in compliance with key rehabilitation and reintegration requirements."

View the Report

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Measuring Performance in a Modern Police Organization
"Author Malcolm Sparrow describes some of the narrower traditions police organizations follow when they describe their values and measure their performance (clearance rates, response times, etc.). Sparrow uses the analogy of an airline pilot’s sophisticated cockpit as he advocates that police managers use a broader and richer information environment to assess performance. In easy to understand language, he summarizes the work of several giants in the policing field who have broadened the framework for monitoring and measuring policing (Herman Goldstein, Mark Moore, Robert Behn, etc.)."

View the Report


Report on Philadelphia Police: New Rules, Training Needed
"A long-awaited U.S. Justice Department report on police shootings in Philadelphia concluded Monday that there is "significant strife between the community and the department," and recommended wholesale changes in procedures and training.

The federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) issued 48 findings and 91 recommendations for the Philadelphia department to consider in 'reforming its deadly force practices.'

...Much of the report echoed criticisms raised for years in community meetings, past audits of the department, and lawsuits against the city....

Paul Messing, a Temple University Law School professor and civil-rights lawyer, said the report 'confirmed what we've known for years' - that the department's disciplinary process has 'a complete lack of teeth.'

The Justice Department's report also criticized police policies on use of force, calling them confusing and inconsistent. The main directive on using deadly force was deemed 'too vague,' the report said.

It noted that under current rules, an officer who had violated its deadly force policy three times could get off with only a reprimand. And it found that the department's investigations of officer-involved shootings had 'a general lack of consistency in quality.'

The report called for a specialized unit to investigate such cases. It also recommended that officers involved in shootings be interviewed by investigators soon after the incident. Now, those officers are interviewed only after the district attorney's investigation into the matter is concluded, which can take months...."

View the Report

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Journal of Applied Juvenile Justice
"The National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) is pleased to sponsor the Journal of Applied Juvenile Justice Services (JAJJS), a refereed, multi-disciplinary publication dedicated to critically examining a wide variety of topics related to juvenile justice. The journal is intended to disseminate to juvenile justice practitioners and researchers timely information focused on critical issues, including effective strategies and practice; the operation and administration of juvenile facilities such as detention, corrections, residential treatment, shelter facilities, group homes, and other community-based and institutional placements for youth; programming such as educational, recreation, medical and mental health, focus groups, and life skills training; trends in juvenile justice; legal issues that affect juvenile justice practice; ethical issues in the treatment of juveniles; and leadership and training in juvenile justice. The aforementioned is accomplished through research articles, thought-provoking editorials, and book reviews."

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Probation Officers Face Redundancy in Plan to Replace them with Machines
"The largest UK private probation operator plans to allow offenders to report in at ATM-style electronic kiosks as part of cost-cutting plans that will involve large-scale redundancies.

Sodexo justice services, which runs six of the 21 newly privatised community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) in England and Wales, intends to introduce the kiosks so offenders can report in without having to see a probation officer.

The company’s 'new operating model' makes clear it intends to introduce 'biometric reporting' using cash machine-style kiosks.

The machines, which use fingerprint recognition technology to check identities, allow an offender to report in, to give and receive information, and to request a face-to-face meeting with a probation officer. Offenders are to be allowed to report into probation using the kiosks as a reward for good compliance with the early stages of their supervision order or prison release licence.

The company also plans to set up one centralised administrative hub supporting operational staff in face-to-face contact with offenders. The probation union Napo says this will mean some low-risk offenders being supervised via a call centre despite the majority of serious further offences being committed by offenders categorised as low-to-medium risk."

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More from the U.K.:

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