Monthly Archives: December 2011

December 2011 Vol 3 (4) Edition

Sources and Resources — A Newsletter for Criminal Justice and Related Professionals

The BCCJA is a not for profit association of criminal justice and related professionals which has been fostering debate, dialogue, providing advocacy and advancing current and best practices for 40 years. Visit our website at www.bccja.com.

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information of professional interest to our members and colleagues. Let us know your thoughts and ideas and if you would like to be put on our distribution list at newsletter@bccja.com.

Summary of Contents

People Violence (3 references)
Criminal Justice Policy (27 references) Sexual Offenders (10 references)
The Law and Police (24 references) Mental Health (13 references)
Children and Youth (10 references) Related Interest (15 references)
Corrections (11 references) Did You Know?
Criminal Behavior (14 references) Important Sources and Resources
Victims of Crime (15 references)

VERY BEST WISHES FOR 2012!! The Board of the British Columbia Criminal Justice Association takes this opportunity to wish our members and all readers of this newsletter a thoughtful, peaceful, joyful and hopeful 2012.

Congress 2013

Great News! BCCJA will host the 2013 Congress of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association in Vancouver. Planning is already underway and the Congress theme has been determined: 21st Century Justice: the Economics of Public Safety. Economic slowdown and shrinking tax bases combined with overwhelming public debt threaten the ability of governments to continue to deliver the kinds of services to which the public has grown accustomed. In the circumstances, we think that it is time to take a serious look at the economics of criminal justice within the broader framework of community needs. Go to the BCCJA website now and follow this newsletter for ongoing updates.

People

BCCJA congratulates Art Gordon, one of our Board members and newsletter co-editor, who recently received the Lifetime Significant Achievement Award from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA).

Dev Dhillon passed away on November 26, 2011. Dev had a long and distinguished career in the Correctional Service of Canada, from the Prairie Region at Prince Albert Penitentiary as a teacher and later as the Assistant Deputy Commissioner in Saskatoon.  He also served as Warden at Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford amongst other assignments here in the Pacific Region.

A Question For Our Readers

This is the eighth issue of our newsletter. We’ve had positive feedback, (and thank you for it), but what would really help would be some constructive comments and suggestions about such matters as length, content, focus, possible additions or deletions….and so on. If you have a thought please contact us at newsletter@bccja.com. Many thanks. The editors. 

Criminal Justice Policy

  • The 2010 Truth in Sentencing Act – which ended two-for-one sentencing practices – will cost an additional $450 million this year, with annual costs expected to escalate over time.
  • A recent poll has found that 35% of Americans oppose the death penalty. Although this may seem like a low number, the 35% represents the highest level of opposition in 40 years. At the same time, 40% believe that the death penalty isn’t imposed often enough. Here is more background on the history of the death penalty in the U.S.
  • Here is an interesting report from Statistics Canada on women in the criminal justice system, both as victims and as offenders.
  • A recent study examining correlations between the social and physical characteristics of neighbourhoods, the health of communities and violence and crime may help to produce new crime reduction strategies.
  • A guide to the nine key elements of the federal crime bill (C-10).
  • Bill C-10 has been advertised as tough-on-crime legislation. Here is a commentary on such an approach from someone who held senior criminal-justice positions in Canada for many years.
  • In the lead-up to the passage of Bill C-10, the Canadian government was accused of ignoring research that ran counter to the legislation. Here is a cogent article by the late Don Andrews that addresses the role of research in criminal justice policy.
  • Under pressure to put a dollar figure on its controversial omnibus crime bill, the federal government released figures that peg the cost at $78.6 million over five years.
  • The National Institute of Justice provides a variety of research-based reports to better inform criminal justice policy. Here is an excellent paper describing changing approaches to criminal justice policy.
  • Statistics Canada has released an extensive survey of public perception of safety from crime. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, Canadians apparently are feeling quite safe.
  • Establishing special treatment jails for mentally ill and substance-addicted law-breakers, expanding GPS tracking of dangerous offenders, and junking Alberta’s Human Rights Commission in favour of a new provincial court division are all parts of a justice platform released by the Wildrose party in Alberta.
  • Here is an interesting, albeit somewhat partisan overview of the efforts the U.S. administration has made to revise their approach to criminal justice, particularly as relates to substance abuse issues.
  • The Canadian government has introduced new legislation that would redefine the conditions under which one may legally use self-defense or defense of property. Here are some related articles.
  • Georgia is the latest state to consider criminal justice reform measures (e.g., drug courts, more community treatment) in order to reduce ever-growing prison populations. There appears to be bipartisan support for these reforms.
  • Here is an interesting U.K. perspective on recent changes to criminal justice policy in Texas.
  • Another conservative Texas think-tank is arguing for a less prison-dependent approach to criminal justice policy for both adults and juveniles. Also, Oklahoma is working to change its criminal justice policies to help reduce its prison population.
  • Here’s an article critical of the American Psychological Association’s position on interrogating detainees.
  • Nigeria will shortly introduce new criminal justice legislation that will focus more on human rights while ensuring that “only those who must be incarcerated are put behind bars”.
  • The United Nations is recommending that criminal justice policy be more sensitive to victims of terrorism.
  • New Zealand is considering reducing the number of short prison sentences for fear that such sentences are simply producing “smarter criminals”.
  • The Missouri legislature is considering changing its sex offender legislation in order to create a greater focus on community supervision, prevention and rehabilitation. This new approach would also save money.
  • Alabama very recently passed sweeping “anti” immigration legislation. Now legislators are already considering significant changes to the law.
  • This author contends that Ontario has just too many laws.
  • Here is a brief overview of the Sri Lankan criminal justice system.

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The Law and Police

  • The B.C. Supreme Court has upheld Canada’s polygamy laws, but says minors who end up in polygamous marriages should be exempt from prosecution.
  • This article considers the many factors and pressures faced by judges in determining sentences. It’s a tough job.
  • Drug-induced psychotic state not a defense for crime says the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • British Columbia is seeking to pass a new Family Law Act which will introduce sweeping changes to often contentious issues.
  • The Ontario government is proposing anti-bullying legislation for its schools.
  • Richard Rosenthal has a long history investigating police misconduct in American cities like Denver, L.A. and Portland. Now he will take on a much bigger role here in B.C
  • A B.C. judge has struck down  provisions of an anti-money laundering and terrorist financing law as they apply to Canada’s lawyers.
  • Charges against police officers in B.C. will no longer be assessed or prosecuted by Crown Counsel from the same region as the officers, the provincial government announced Wednesday.
  • Traditional police interrogation techniques are under fire.
  • The Canadian Association of Crown Counsel claims that bill C-10 could further impact on already overburdened prosecution resources and could negatively affect public safety.
  • The Law Society of B.C. has chosen 20 members of the public to sit on hearing panels to discipline lawyers and examine the fitness and character of those applying to be lawyers.
  • Part of British Columbia’s drunk-driving legislation has been ruled unconstitutional. However, the government plans to revise the legislation to maintain its intent. In addition, B.C. Attorney-General Shirley Bond quickly squelched any notion that drinking motorists will get a break.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to back Insite could pave the way for more supervised injection services in Vancouver itself and elsewhere in the province.
  • Apparently downtown Chilliwack now has a designated “red Zone” that police have declared a no-go area for prostitutes and their customers.
  • The province’s 146 Provincial Court judges are suing the B.C. government for refusing to increase their pay and benefits.
  • The Canadian Bar Association has launched a campaign to bolster legal-aid funding. The B.C. branch believes there is a crisis of chronic underfunding of legal aid, which plagues the courts and the broader costs for government and far exceed the short-term savings.
  • The chief justice of B.C.’s Supreme Court has issued a rare call for his colleagues to speak out against funding cuts that he says threaten the province’s entire judicial system.
  • The Mounties are set to get a massive upgrade to their arsenal next year with the delivery of high-powered assault rifles in the wake of deadly firefights like Mayerthorpe, Alta.
  • The RCMP in Williams Lake report sharp drops in a number of property crime rates three-and-a-half years after implementing a program that targets repeat offenders.
  • Strong police measures, even when they seem necessary, sometimes have unintended negative consequences. This story describes some of the consequences of Mexico’s war on drugs.
  • A hand-held device has been developed that can capture fingerprints (for identification) as well as identify the presence of illegal drugs.
  • Scottish law is somewhat unique in that prosecution of criminal cases requires evidence from two independent sources. That often onerous requirement is now being questioned.

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Children and Youth

  • Mental-health experts call for more funding targeted at children and youth as a way to prevent, catch and treat problems early, thereby saving precious health-care dollars and untold pain and suffering that can last a lifetime.
  • A new national U.S. poll shows the overwhelming belief that youth in trouble with the law should receive treatment and rehabilitation instead of being locked up or automatically tried in adult court.
  • Then there is this commentary which calls for tougher sentences for youth who commit crime.
  • Here is an extensive compendium of U.S. State laws related to the sexual exploitation of minors.
  • U.S. study links teen violence and heavy soda diet.
  • A recent study has found that “happy” adolescents are less likely to engage in criminal behaviour, and that the likelihood of such behaviour can change as does mood.
  • When children have been exposed to family violence, their brains become increasingly “tuned” for processing possible sources of threat. Moreover, they may show the same pattern of brain activity as seen in soldiers exposed to combat.
  • It appears that babies as young as eight months old prefer it when people who commit or condone antisocial acts are punished.
  • This report reinforces the conclusion that children who watch violence on TV are more likely to behave aggressively immediately and later in life.
  • Men expected to take risks, be tough, provide for families; women’s place is in home, many surveyed youth say.

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Corrections

  • The Office of the Correctional Investigator has released its annual report on the Correctional Service of Canada. CSC’s response to the 21 recommendations can be found at the end of the report.
  • The British Columbia Auditor General has released a report critical of the province’s community supervision of offenders. You can access a PDF version of the full report.
  • This four-part series focuses on women incarcerated in Canada. (Here are parts one, two, three and four).
  • Baby Tiakohl cries inside the only home she has ever known: a prison.
  • A recent study investigated the attributions women inmates make about their incarceration.
  • Anyone who tells you that Canada’s prison system and the prisons themselves coddle and comfort the inmates is either lying, woefully ill-informed or dimly unaware of the reality, says this author.
  • These authors argue that successful strategies used in managing a baseball team have much to teach about effective corrections.
  • The CSC website contains a variety of reports and information of general and particular interest for those interested in Federal corrections issues.  For instance, there are some good modules on correctional history, the law and social studies under the tab “Educational Resources” on the website. Access the CSC website directly.

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Criminal Behavior

  • Recent research finds that psychopaths’ brains are “wired differently”, raising the possibility that courts could consider psychopathy as a mitigating, rather than aggravating factor.
  • This very interesting documentary from the BBC examines the roots of good and evil with a focus on the psychopath. It is available on YouTube in four parts one, two, three and four.
  • Recent research used computer analysis of speech patterns to show that psychopathic killers use language quite differently than a non-psychopathic cohort when describing their crimes.
  • Yet another study of psychopaths, this one showing clear difference in brain structure and function.
  • These authors argue that psychopathy is a personality disorder that is widely misunderstood.
  • Here is a fascinating talk by Philip Zimbardo describing the research (Milgram’s obedience studies, the Stanford prison study) that helped define the situational and system variables that can lead people to become “evil” or “heroes”. He uses his model to understand what occurred at Abu Ghraib prison.
  • Here are some tips from burglars about how to best protect yourself from break-ins.
  • This article considers whether and to what extent criminal behaviour may be influenced by genetics.  And the following article addresses links between neurological functioning and criminal behavior.
  • A recent study of high-risk males found that becoming a father can significantly reduce the likelihood of criminal behaviour. A link at the bottom of the page takes you to an interview with the study’s author.
  • Research has shown that offenders who engage in a criminal lifestyle are much more likely to experience poor physical health into middle age. This finding has significant implications for the cost of incarceration.

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Victims of Crime

  • Claims that tens of thousands of children in England are being sexually abused by organized gangs have led to a national inquiry.
  • A California woman has been ordered to pay alimony  to her husband once he is released from prison where he is serving a sentence for sexually assaulting her.
  • In the aftermath of recent events at Penn State, there has been considerable discussion about why people didn’t intervene. Here is an interesting commentary and here’s another. This last article describes one approach to increase bystander involvement.
  • This commentary considers the often minimised fact that the incidence of rape has been declining for years. And this article considers reasons for the overall drop in violent crime.
  • Here is one of the first surveys of Canadians’ experience with online victimization including cyber-bullying, Internet bank fraud and problems with making purchases online.
  • This report summarizes a variety of information related to transition houses for women experiencing domestic violence.
  • Many victims of crime rate their involvement with the criminal justice system poorly, adding to their feelings of loss and trauma.
  • It is particularly disturbing when a victim of violence is re-victimized for reporting their experience. This disturbing report notes such events following recent allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State.
  • This report notes that the public perception of crime  depends on whether respondents have themselves been victims.
  • As this story reminds us, the oft-forgotten victims of crime are the loved-ones of the criminal.
  • The FBI is devoting more resources to attending to victims’ needs after crimes.
  • As is the case in Canada and the U.S., police estimate that 80% of sexual assault victims in India  know their assailants.

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Violence

  • A brief Aggressive Behavior Risk Assessment tool appears to predict which patients will become violent during their hospital stay.
  • Statistics Canada recently published a report on homicides. The rate in 2010 was the lowest in 40 years.
  • Although some believe that our society has become more violent, this interesting video features Steven Pinker who argues that we are much less violent than were our ancestors.

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Sexual Offenders

  • A major study of the impact of sex offender registration laws has found that while registration and community notification incur considerable costs, they have no effect on sexual recidivism.
  • Two other studies question whether sex offender registries  have any impact on community safety.
  • This podcast considers the online pedophile culture with a focus on child pornography.
  • This article addresses criticisms that hebephilia should not be considered as a DSM diagnosis.
  • Here’s an interesting European study on characteristics of online groomers.
  • A recent court case in which the defendant was given a life sentence for possession of child pornography raises questions about sentence severity in such cases. On the other hand, a British judge recently gave a very light sentence  for a similar crime because the young girl “appears to have seduced” the offender.
  • The National Sexual Violence Resource Center is an excellent source for materials on a wide variety of issues. This link takes you to their publication page.
  • A high score on the Psychopathy Checklist can count very heavily in decisions about sex offenders. Now, a recent study has failed to find any relationship between PCL-R scores and sexual recidivism.
  • This article summarizes current thinking about how pedophilic interests and behaviour develop.

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Mental Health

  • While many laud the expansion of mental health courts, this writer points out one of the potential unintended negative consequences.
  • Like many other jurisdictions, Michigan’s prisons are faced with an influx of mentally ill persons as community mental health resources have been cut.
  • In 2008, The Vancouver police issued a report on how inadequate community mental health resources presented challenges for the police. Now, an updated report reviews progress and discusses ongoing challenges faced by both those with mental illness and the police.
  • A group of Calgary researchers recently found that Calgarians living with a psychiatric diagnosis cost Alberta’s health care system three times more for physical (non-psychiatric) health care than those without a diagnosis.
  • Research has found common genetic variants  contributing to the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Here is a second article describing the same research.
  • In our last issue, we published a critique of the draft mental health strategy of the Canadian Mental Health Commission. Here is the Commission’s response to that critique.
  • Research has shown that a single dose of cortisone after a traumatic event can reduce the chance of developing PTSD by 60 percent
  • Research finds neuropsychological functioning levels in prisoners who self-injure are well below average.
  • Here is a brief summary of recent research trying to understand the physical causes of major mental illness.
  • Notwithstanding the Canadian government’s oft repeated view that prisons should not be the primary source of mental health treatment, the government voted down an amendment to Bill C-10 that would allow judges to take mental health status into account when sentencing.

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Related Interest

  • In light of recent (and historical) allegations of sexual impropriety among political candidates, this interesting article tries to classify what sexual behaviours should, and should not be in the public domain.
  • If you’ve ever wondered what can happen to asylum seekers, who may spend many years waiting for resolution, this excellent documentary from Australia provides a scary answer.
  • Here is an interesting article and interview with Richard Dawkins, the eminent evolutionary biologist.
  • We are by far the wealthiest and healthiest people who ever lived, but we hang on to our pessimism. An interesting view.
  • A recent study has shown that those with some authority but little status tend to demean others. Could this finding explain behaviours sometimes seen at border crossings and prisons?
  • Those of you faced with institutional human ethics committees may be interested in proposed changes for such bodies.
  • This fascinating site provides video lectures on a wide variety of subjects (including law, psychology, etc.) from some of the world`s top experts. Of special interest might be a 12 lecture course entitled: Justice: What’s the right thing to do?
  • People who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to errors than those who don’t think they can learn from their mistakes.
  • An interesting study has shown that magnetic stimulation of parts of the brain can influence the propensity to lie or tell the truth.
  • Does the number of Facebook friends you have affect your brain?
  • This recent case of an eminent psychologist who faked data and entire experiments has raised questions about the peer review process.
  • Scientists have discovered that a gene that influences empathy, parental sensitivity and sociability is so powerful that even strangers observing 20 seconds of silent video identified people with a particular genetic variation to be more caring and trusting.
  • Research is ongoing to develop computer software that can detect lying based on speech analysis.
  • In Person of Interest’s post-9/11 world, people are being watched by hidden cameras, their conversations listened to by hidden microphones everywhere they go, so that there can be a preventative intervention from disaster or crime. Are we getting close in real life?

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Did You Know?

The Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) is our national organization and has existed since 1919. CCJA publishes the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the quarterly Justice Reports, and an electronic newsletter regularly. Their website includes book reviews and position papers on important topics of relevance to criminal justice. Take a few minutes to update yourself on the information available on their website at http://www.ccja-acjp.ca/en/.

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Important Sources and Resources

The Justice Institute of British Columbia specializes in justice and public safety agency training and education. Its’ library is a premier source of academic and experiential training information. For instance, visit the Library site for a prepared bibliography on a wide range of topics: gangs, bullying, critical incident stress, emergency management, etc….http://www.jibc.ca/library to access that site.

Restorative Justice BC has an excellent website as a resource of interest to practitioners, community partners and others with an interest in restorative justice, who are wanting to stay up to date on current issues and practices. www.rjbc.ca to access this important information.

JusticeBC.ca has been created by the British Columbia government  “… to ensure the right information and services are available for people who become involved with the criminal justice system in B.C.” It’s a good resource for everyone.

As part of its Domestic Violence Action Plan, the Government of B.C. has developed a new web portal of resources for victims of domestic violence to help them get the support they need. Click here for the website. Here is another site that provides a wealth of information on preventing domestic and sexual violence.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder website provides a wealth of excellent information on FASD and the criminal justice system. Click here.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada promotes mental health in Canada, and works with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems, and to improve services and support. Their website contains important information regarding initiatives. Click here for the website.

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