Friday, March 8, 2019

Police in Canada are Tracking People's "Negative" Behavior in a "Risk" Database
"Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people—including minors and people experiencing homelessness—with little oversight and often without consent.

Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a 'Risk-driven Tracking Database' that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a 'negative neighborhood.'

The Risk-driven Tracking Database (RTD) is part of a collaborative approach to policing called the Hub model that partners cops, school staff, social workers, health care workers, and the provincial government."

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2018 Called "High Point" in Restoring Rights to Individuals with Criminal Records
"Some 30 states and the District of Columbia passed laws or enacted statutes aimed at helping returning incarcerees adjust to life in civilian society, representing a “high point” in national efforts to restore rights and status to people with a criminal record, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center (CCRC)....

During 2018, some 52 separate statutes (some addressing multiple restoration mechanisms),  three executive orders, and one ballot initiative aimed at enhancing the prospects for successful reentry and reintegration were enacted. In comparison, 23 states enacted 42 new restoration laws in 2017.

The CRCC said the 'most consequential single new law' was the ballot initiative approved by Florida voters last fall to restore the franchise to 1.5 million people with a felony conviction."

Vie the Full Report
 

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The War-Torn Web: A Once-Unified Online World has Broken into New Warring States
The global internet continues to fragment. Governments, in particular, are using their influence to shape the ways that digital companies, markets, and rights connect us online. This new form of realpolitik, which we call “digitalpolitik,” is an emerging tactical playbook for how governments use their political, regulatory, military, and commercial powers to project influence in global, digital markets.

Last month, at the Internet Governance Forum, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a multi-stakeholder effort to define internet principles around human rights law, with calls for protections against cybercrimes, intellectual property theft, hate speech, and hacking from nonstate actors.

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The Untapped Promise of Cannabis Legalization
"Cannabis legalization is spreading across the globe. In this visionary talk, criminologist Akwasi Owusu-Bempah shares his insights on the people who have been most impacted by drug prohibition and explains how the economic benefits of legalization can be used to promote positive social change. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. His work focuses on the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular interest in the area of policing. Akwasi is now studying various aspects of cannabis legalization in Canada. His current projects include a study of Black males’ perceptions of and experiences with the police in Greater Toronto Area."

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Reimagining Prison Report
"Prison in America causes individual, community, and generational pain and deprivation. Built on a system of racist policies and practices that has disproportionately impacted people of color, mass incarceration has decimated communities and families. But the harsh conditions within prisons neither ensure safety behind the walls nor prevent crime and victimization in the community.

In this report, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) reimagines the how, what, and why of incarceration and asserts a new governing principle on which to ground prison policy and practice: human dignity. Basing American corrections practice on human dignity acknowledges and responds to the role formal state punishment systems have played in creating and perpetuating inequality. Vera proposes three practice principles to give life to this tenet: (1) respect the intrinsic worth of each human being; (2) elevate and support personal relationships; and (3) respect a person’s capacity to grow and change."

Link to Full Report
 
Related Report: What Incentives Work in Prison? A Prisoner Policy Network Consultation
 

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Police Across the US are Training Crime-Predicting AIs on Falsified Data
"In May of 2010, prompted by a series of high-profile scandals, the mayor of New Orleans asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the city police department (NOPD). Ten months later, the DOJ offered its blistering analysis: during the period of its review from 2005 onwards, the NOPD had repeatedly violated constitutional and federal law.

It used excessive force, and disproportionately against black residents; targeted racial minorities, non-native English speakers, and LGBTQ individuals; and failed to address violence against women....

Despite the disturbing findings, the city entered a secret partnership only a year later with data-mining firm Palantir to deploy a predictive policing system. The system used historical data, including arrest records and electronic police reports, to forecast crime and help shape public safety strategies, according to company and city government materials. At no point did those materials suggest any effort to clean or amend the data to address the violations revealed by the DOJ. In all likelihood, the corrupted data was fed directly into the system, reinforcing the department’s discriminatory practices....

 But new research suggests it’s not just New Orleans that has trained these systems with 'dirty data.' In a paper released today, to be published in the NYU Law Review, researchers at the AI Now Institute, a research center that studies the social impact of artificial intelligence, found the problem to be pervasive among the jurisdictions it studied."

Link to Full Report
 

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The Rising Numbers of Women Recalled to Prison
"The number of women recalled to prison has more than doubled since the introduction of government measures designed to support people on release, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report, Broken Trust, reveals that over 1,700 women were recalled to prison in England and Wales during the last year, and that reforms which were intended to help are making things worse. Women are trapped in the justice system rather than being enabled to rebuild their lives.

The study, based on in-depth interviews conducted with 24 women, explores why increasing numbers of women are being returned to custody, and what the impact is on them and their families. It found that the threat of recall for women serving prison sentences of under 12 months is contributing to a breakdown in trust between them and the probation officers responsible for their supervision in the community.

The extension of mandatory post-custody supervision has disproportionately affected women. Recall numbers for men have risen by 22% since the changes were introduced, whilst for women they’ve grown by 131%.

Women are overwhelmingly sent to prison for committing non-violent offences, and as a result the vast majority are serving sentences of less than a year. Last year, 72% of women who entered prison to serve a sentence, were given a sentence of less than 12 months."

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Closed Quarters: Challenges and Opportunities in Stabilizing Housing and Mental Health Across the Justice Sector
"For decades, people with no fixed address have entered and left correctional facilities, yet there have been limited housing solutions available to them. The complex factors leading to criminal justice involvement, the multiple entry and exit points, the high prevalence of mental health and addictions problems, and the complexity of agencies and ministries involved, have resulted in a patchwork of responses. Without adequate housing and often lacking any support in the community, people end up relying on costly emergency services, such as shelters and hospitals (often taken there by police); on precarious housing, such as couch surfing; and on the few supports within the corrections sector to respond to their needs.

This report spells out the issues faced by people whose needs intersect and overlap the housing, mental health, and justice sectors in Ontario. Importantly, the report summarizes discussions that took place during a Think Tank Day that brought together service providers, policy makers, and People with Lived Experience (PWLE )."

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Case Study of NYC Program Proves "No Need to Lock Up Kids for Public Safety"
"Juvenile arrests in New York City were slashed in half since the city stopped sending young people to youth detention facilities far from their homes, according to a study released Wednesday.

The so-called 'Close to Home' law enacted in 2012 moved all New York City youth out of state prisons and placed them instead in local programs that helped them address the substance abuse and socialization problems that had gotten them in trouble with police in the first place.

The study, produced by the Columbia Justice Lab, also documented a steep decline in juvenile detention placements compared to other cities in New York State.

According to the study’s findings, the decline in New York City juvenile arrests doubled from 24 percent to 52 percent since the Close to Home law was enacted."

Link to Full Report
 

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Can Prosecutors Help Break the Cycle of Recidivism?
"When an analysis found that Miami-Dade County spent nearly $14 million in combined jail and health care costs in a five-year period on just 97 individuals, county authorities realized something was deeply skewed within their justice system.

In response, local police developed a new approach to what criminologists call the “frequent utilizers”—the small group of people who move between jails, emergency rooms, state hospitals, and psychiatric facilities in a never-ending cycle of despair.

Training priorities were changed, so that law enforcement sent troubled individuals to community services for counseling instead of repeatedly arresting them. As a result, the county’s jail population was cut in half from 7,000 in 2008 to about 4,700 in 2014, enabling authorities to close one jail facility, and saving some $12 million.

Such innovative strategies have become increasingly used across the U.S., as police, sheriff’s departments and courts collaborate with local healthcare providers, family counseling services, drug treatment clinics, and housing authorities to target a population that is often considered un-reformable.

But one player has been notably missing: the local prosecutor."

Link to the Full Report

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For Fentanyl Importers, Canada Post is the Shipping Method of Choice
"Once or twice a week, a 24-year-old man in London, Ont., opens up his laptop for a little online shopping—fentanyl, heroin and other recreational drugs. The man, who works part-time in the hospitality industry, started buying drugs on the web after moving home to get a handle on an opioid addiction. It was seriously damaging his finances, but he wasn’t interested in quitting entirely. 'Drugs are one of the things in my universe now because I want them to be there, not because they have to be,' he says. He turned to the internet for products he couldn’t find through local connections in a new city. When he finds what he’s looking for, he places an order. It doesn’t take long for it to be delivered through the mail.

The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of tarnishing his job prospects, orders the drugs from a corner of the internet known as the dark web. It can only be accessed with a special browser that hides users’ identities; its sites can’t be found through a Google search....

But while an avid online shopper will see packages delivered by a variety of courier companies, almost all of these dark-web drug stores have just one option for their Canadian customers: Canada Post."
 

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