COVID-19 Hit Federal Prisons Twice as Hard in 2nd Wave of Pandemic, Report Says

Link to News Report

Link to Correctional Investigator Report

"COVID-19 has hit federal prisons twice as hard in the second wave of the pandemic compared to the first, according to a new report from Canada's Correctional Investigator that recommends an inmate vaccination strategy to prevent more outbreaks behind bars....

In all, about 10 per cent of the federal prison population has been infected with COVID-19, compared to just two per cent of Canada's general population....

Among his key recommendations, Zinger [Correctional Investigator] alls on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to explore alternatives to incarceration and to 'address the failings of Canada's aging, antiquated and costly federal prisons.'

Throughout the pandemic, prisoners advocates have called for the early release of offenders to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the confined and often crowded institutions. Zinger's report noted that there have been 1,053 fewer admissions than releases during the pandemic, but said that is due to reductions in sentencing and admissions during the pandemic rather than a planned increase in the release of inmates.

Zinger recommends that CSC collaborate with the Parole Board of Canada on the early, prioritized release of elderly and medically compromised inmates who don't pose a risk to society."

No End in Sight: America's Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment

Link to Summary and Key Findings

Link to Full Report

"Before America's era of mass incarceration took hold in the early 1970s, the number of individuals in prison was less than 200,000. Today, it's 1.4 million, and more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences - one out of every seven in prison. More people are sentenced to life in prison in America than there people in prison serving any sentence in 1970."

Council on Criminal Justice. Task Force on Policing: Policy Assessments

 Link to Website

"In partnership with the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, the Task Force is conducting more than two dozen assessments of proposed policing reforms. Each policy assessment provides an overview of the state and extent of the evidence on each topic and the expected impact of each reform on public safety, misuse of force, police-community relations, racial disparities, and officer safety.

Task Force members are examining measures focused on preventing excessive use of force, reducing racial biases, increasing accountability, and improving the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve."

The Economic Costs of Pretrial Detention

 Link to Report

"We measure the economic costs of the U.S. pretrial system using several complementary approaches and datasets. The pretrial system operates as one of the earliest points in the crim- inal justice system and typically represents an individual’s first opportunity to be incarcerated. We find that individuals lose almost $30,000 in present value terms when detained in jail while awaiting the resolution of their criminal cases. These adverse consequences are also present in aggregate data, with a 10 percentage point increase in county pretrial detention rates leading to an 1.05–1.41 percentage point increase in county poverty rates and a 1.15–2.06 percentage point decrease in county employment rates. Counties with high levels of pretrial detention also exhibit significantly lower levels of intergenerational mobility in later years, consistent with pretrial detention adversely impacting young children."

Court-Mandated Interventions for Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence

Link to Summary

Link to Report

"The objective of this review was to determine if court-mandated group-based batterer intervention programs are effective at reducing intimate partner violence among male batterers."

"This update of a Campbell systematic review examines the effects of court-mandated batterer intervention programs for adult males who have perpetrated intimate-partner violence."

"The review summarizes the evidence from 11 high-quality studies, including four randomized controlled trials and eight quasi-experimental comparison group studies.

Eight studies were conducted in the USA, two in Canada and one in Australia."

"The studies we included do not support the effectiveness of court-mandated batterer intervention programs. There are two important caveats.

First, there is not enough evidence to draw a strong conclusion that these programs do not work. The evidence is insufficient to conclude that they do work.

Second, there is a new generation of these programs that have incorporated new elements, such as motivational interviewing. Meta-analyses have established that motivational interviewing improves in-program outcomes, such as attendance and other indicators of compliance, but there is insufficient evidence to establish whether these newer generation programs reduce post-program intimate partner violence."

"The classic batterer intervention program that relied solely on a feminist framework, a cognitive-behavioral model, or a mix of the two, is unlikely to provide a meaningful solution to the problem of intimate partner violence. New programs and/or entirely new approaches to this important social problem should be explored."

Unequal Justice: Experiences and Outcomes of Young People in Ontario's Youth Bail System

 Link to Report

"...This report begins with an overview of the legal framework for youth bail in Ontario followed by a literature review on the youth bail system. The findings section outlines the results of the data analysis, and key trends identified in the data and through the consultations. The report concludes with a section focusing on solutions, complete with a set of recommendations."

The Radical Idea to Reduce Crime by Policing Less, not More

 Link to Article

"Evidence-based policing aims to make policing more fair, by treating it like medicine – running controlled trials to see which interventions work, and which don't."

Domestic Violence during COVID-19: Evidence from a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

 Link to Report

"In March and April of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was wreaking havoc on the lives and economies of nations worldwide, government leaders began to institute stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

These orders, while intented to help stop the spread of the virus, could be associated with certain adverse outcomes, including child abuse and domestic violence, in particular. Stay- at-home orders and the pandemic’s economic impacts exacerbated factors that tend to be associated with such violence: increased male unemployment, stress associated with childcare and homeschooling, increased financial insecurity, and poor coping strategies, including the increased use of alcohol and other substances. In addition, COVID-19 left parents and children confined to their homes, cut off from friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others capable of reporting signs of abuse and violence and intervening to help potential victims escape violent situations. These and other pandemic-related dynamics increased the risk of abuse, and potentially its severity."

Undemocratic Crimes

Link to Article

"One might assume that in a working democracy the criminal law rules would reflect the community’s shared judgments regarding justice and punishment....

It may then come as a surprise, and a disappointment, that a wide range of common rules in modern criminal law seriously conflict with community justice judgments, including three strikes and other habitual offender statutes, abolition or narrowing of the insanity defense, adult prosecution of juveniles, felony murder, strict liability offenses, and a variety of other common doctrines.

In short, democratically elected legislatures have regularly chosen to adopt criminal law rules that conflict with the deep and abiding intuitions of their constituents."

Canada is Torturing Inmates with Solitary Confinement, Report Finds

Link to Vice Article

Link to Report by Anthony Doob and Jane Sprott

"Nearly one-in-ten federal inmates who are placed in the 'structured intervention units' designed by the Trudeau government to replace solitary confinement cells are actually being tortured, a new report says.

The new research confirms what inmates and prisoner advocates have been saying for years: Canada isn't following its own laws, various court rulings, or international standards around the treatment of inmates. It is even violating a UN convention on torture that it helped write.

The new report, authored by criminologists Anthony Doob and Jane Sprott, called the findings 'very disturbing,'

The study looked at how often inmates were placed in those cells, how long they spent there, and whether they received any meaningful human contact during their stay."