Monthly Archives: June 2012

June 2012 Vol 4 (2) 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

Criminal Justice Policy (12 references) Victims of Crime (5 references)
Criminal Justice System (17 references) Sexual Offenders (4 references)
The Law and Courts (15 references) Mental Health (9 references)
Police (8 References) Related Interest (6 references)
Children and Youth (11 references) Did You Know?
Corrections and Community (17 references) Important Sources and Resources
Criminal Behavior (10 references)  

A Note From the Editors
We hope our recently updated format is more user friendly.  Accessing information from previous recent editions is as simple as clicking on this edition in “Archives”.

As always, we welcome constructive feedback and suggestions at newsletter@bccja.com.

Congress 2013
As announced in previous newsletters, BCCJA will host the 2013 Congress of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association in Vancouver. Planning is underway for the October 2013 event, 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.

Congratulations
Congratulations are in order for the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association! In May, the Association published Vol 1, Issue 1 of  it’s newsletter, distributed across Canada through the CCJA office as an attachment.

Also Note
On August 25, 2012 at the University of Ottawa Campus, the John Howard Society of Canada in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Canadian Bar Association,  and the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice  is sponsoring a one-day Symposium on prison crowding in Canada. The registration form is here, as is further contact information.

The John Howard Society of Alberta has announced a major international conference on offender integration, to be held in Calgary March 13-15, 2013. The planning is in partnership with the Prairie Region Halfway House association, the St. Leonard’s Society of Canada and the Canadian Training Institute.  Read here for the dedicated web-site.

A Bit of “Humor”
A wise jury…..: In a criminal justice system based on 12 individuals not smart enough to get out of jury duty, here is a jury to be proud of. A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defence’s closing statement, the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all,” the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.” He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened. Finally the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation.  I, therefore, put it to you that you have a reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed, and I insist that you return a verdict of not guilty.” The jury retired to deliberate.  A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty. “But how?” inquired the lawyer. “You must have had some doubt;  I saw all of you stare at the door.” The jury foreman replied:”Yes, we did look.  But your client didn’t.”

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Criminal Justice Policy

  • The just-concluded twenty-first session of United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice adopted the first international instrument exclusively dedicated to legal aid: the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, which will be submitted to the General Assembly later this year for approval.
  • The Nova Scotia government is appointing  a Crime Prevention Advisory Circle, “…to consider how government can combine resources to deliver crime prevention efforts”.
  • Good news from Abbotsford. Over the last three years the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association (ARJAA) has had a 66 per cent increase in referrals from the Abbotsford Police Department. A novel approach to funding is being tried. Read more. 
  • An international research group is trying to develop restorative justice approaches to deal with events such as the Vancouver and London riots. In a related vein, this article calls for the U.K. to use restorative justice processes more widely as part of a criminal justice response.
  • Research on rioting, from Vancouver to India, points to restorative justice solutions, says Dr. Theo Gavrielides of the UK. Here is a link to a video interview.
  • The US Justice Department is trying to broaden the range of offenders who can be detained as sexually violent predators, to include those who have never been convicted of sexual assault.
  • The U.S. is apparently prepared to shift its war on drugs to focus more on treatment of those with addictions.
  • Northern Ireland has introduced a system of “fixed penalty notices” for some low-level criminal activity in order to make the criminal justice system more efficient and to reduce court involvement.
  • How does the world view capital punishment? What are the numbers of deaths around the world? The National Post’s graphics team takes a close look at the death penalty. Excellent graphics.
  • As gay rights continue to be strengthened in much of the world, the Zimbabwe justice minister has made clear that “same-sex partners found together will be immediately arrested”.

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Criminal Justice System

  • Adult criminal court statistics in Canada have just been released by Statistics Canada for  2010/2011. Interesting trends.
  • A landmark report documents and analyzes cases in which convicted felons have later been exonerated, including 101 who were awaiting execution. This article considers these data and the difficulty that public officials seem to find in admitting they were wrong. And this article suggests ways to reduce false convictions.
  • In order to increase transparency of the criminal justice system, the British government provides online access to a crime mapping website that shows what crimes are occurring in local communities, and what criminal justice action has resulted in each case.
  • The arrest of over 2500 in the student protests in Montreal could have a significant impact on the criminal justice and court systems.
  • Modern forensic science relies heavily on apparently objective fingerprint analysis.This short video provides disturbing evidence that such analyses may be open to unintentional bias.
  • This interesting lecture by Elizabeth Loftus reviews research on false memories.
  • The UK Ministry of Justice has just released its annual justice statistics report. One finding shows that a growing number (30+%) of sentenced offenders had extensive criminal histories (15+ prior convictions). Also, the number of incarcerated individuals continues to grow despite declining crime rates.
  • Here is an interesting perspective on the incarceration rates in the U.S. suggesting that “average” citizens may also be at risk. For example, here is a case of how cooperating with police can backfire.
  • Many have noted the problem of returning war veterans in the U.S. becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Now, a county in Arizona is introducing a “veteran’s court” to help address the behavioral and social service needs of these individuals.
  • Written by a defense attorney, here is an interesting overview of the role of the Crown.
  • Some claim that only 3% of crimes in Kashmir result in “justice”, largely due to a growing number of “hostile witnesses”.
  • The Bahamas has been experiencing a huge amount of crime including murder. This has had considerable political and social repercussions.

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The Law and Courts

  • The top three B.C. Judges discuss current issues related to sentences, court delays and TV cameras.
  • The following is an important recent commentary by former B.C. Deputy Attorney General Alan Seckel, who talks about five changes that must be made to modernize the criminal justice systrem.
  • After two years of deliberation, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice has struck down significant civil court hearing fees as unconstitutional.
  • Some are disappointed with the Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that judges cannot demand immediate placement to mental health facilities for those accused deemed to be in immediate need of such services.
  • A First Nations Court has been working in North Vancouver since this past March, where monthly sessions involve the community in finding justice.
  • London is home to one of three special courts in Ontario treating native justice in a different way: a “Gladue Court”.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear two cases involving RCMP drug sniffer dogs that could clarify when police should be allowed to use the animals. The appeals involve cases where men had been found in possession of a controlled sub-stance but were later acquitted because the evidence, discovered with the aid of drug-sniffing dogs, was ruled inadmissible by lower courts.
  • The on-going debate about what juries should hear continues. The Judge was right to keep Rafferty’s laptop out of the Tori Stafford murder trial, posits this journalist. Here is another very well expressed view on the controversy.
  • Yes, this can still happen in Canada. A woman spent almost two years in pre-trial custody or a psychiatric hospital for charges that would likely not have resulted in any jail time. Read more. 
  • Amid the celebration on the anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms three words should temper the party when it comes to the Courts, says this journalist: Rowbotham, Askov and Stinchcombe.
  • Legislation expanding Canadians’ powers of citizen’s arrest, nicknamed the “Lucky Moose Bill,” passed the House of Commons with unanimous support (Bill C-26).
  • In the controversy about masked protesters, this writer suggests the proposed anti-mask legislation defies logic.
  • New legislation in Alabama would reduce judicial discretion in sentencing by requiring shorter sentences for some offenders.
  • A New York Appeals court has ruled that simply viewing child pornography is not a crime.

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Police

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Children and Youth

  • A new study finds that teen drugs and alcohol use may depend on their friends’ folks.
  • Vulnerable youth and domestic abuse were two key focuses of Surrey’s very successful Crime Reduction Strategy, as outlined in its recently released 2011 annual report. The strategy, which won the 2011 Solicitor General’s Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award, will continue to focus on domestic abuse and youth in 2012.
    Read more here.
  • This new report attempts to quantify the annual cost of child abuse and neglect.
  • A new psychological intervention has been shown to more than halve the trauma experienced by child victims of war, rape and sexual abuse.
  • Youth court caseloads fell by seven per cent in 2010-2011, Statistics Canada reports. The second straight annual drop is obviously a good thing, though exactly why it’s a good thing might not be so obvious. Read more.
  • Restorative justice program lowers school expulsions.
  • A recent UBC study on cyberbullying found that up to 30 per cent of youth reported experiencing or taking part in cyberbullying. That’s compared to 12 per cent of youth who say they have taken part or experienced schoolyard bullying.
  • The notion that bullying can be legislated away is fanciful at best, says this Macleans article.
  • The Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) has developed what they describe as a comprehensive strategy to assist agencies assess the potential effectiveness of their programs, based on evidence based metrics of successful interventions.
  • The audience for a recent report from the U.K. called “Pathways From Crime”, which focuses on young people, is broad but should be of particular interest to executive managers, policy-makers and practitioners.
  • This item makes an important point about every young person’s importance. We’re sure you’ll agree.

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Corrections and Community

  • Guthrie House Therepeutic Community, on the grounds of Nanaimo Correctional Centre, has won the B.C.’s Premier’s Award for innovation, and is recognized as a very effective program.
  • Here is an interesting editorial on the impact of prisons on inmates and society.
  • The U.S. Justice Department has announced new standards to prevent sexual victimization in prisons. A recent survey of former inmates suggests almost 10% report having been victimized during their incarceration.
  • The Vera Institute of Justice applauds the above referenced new standards which look to prevent, detect and respond to sexual assault in prisons and jails, with a broad range of measures. For other interesting reports from the Vera Institute, click on the header Vera Institute when looking at the standards information.
  • Here is an editorial comment on the Canadian government’s policies related to prisons, particularly the plan to charge inmates more for room and board.
  • As the Canadian government plans to close three prisons, it appears that some prisons are facing increasing overcrowding
  • Apparently, only 1/6 of inmates receiving more expensive kosher meals are Jewish.
  • The John Howard Society of Ontario has just released an important study of the John Howard Society of Toronto’s Housing Program. Housing is critical for high risk populations, but so are a complex of services and agency collaborations. Read the report here.
  • For every 100 women released from a B.C. jail this year, 45 of them will be back behind bars next year reports a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia entitled Doing Time. The study claims that recidivism rates are directly related to a lack of access to health care and social supports in the community.
  • This interesting article in The Economist about changes in Britain regarding the left and right wing politics of “getting tough on crime” mirror what is happening in the U.S., and is food for thought in Canada.
  •  Consistent with previous research, a recent national poll found American voters want safe communities but believe there are too many people in jail. You will find an excellent summary of findings.
  • A recent Angus Reid poll found few respondents in Canada, Britain and the United States believe their respective prison systems are equipped to allow prisoners to re-enter society effectively.
  • In the U.S., it has become more difficult for employers to avoid hiring people simply on the basis of a criminal history.
  • Canada is not alone in the phenomenon of prisons becoming more crowded despite falling crime rates. See this item on statistics from England and Wales.
  • Penal Reform International is an international non-governmental organisation working on penal and criminal justice reform worldwide. PRI has regional offices and programmes in the Middle East and North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Check out their web-site.

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Criminal Behavior

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Victims of Crime

  • Sex trade workers and police gathered recently to discuss ways to prevent another serial killer such as Robert Pickton from preying on them.
  • “When most people think of words to describe their father,  killer, control freak, abuser and belittler usually aren’t the first that come to mind. The same goes for their mother; murder victim doesn’t ring a bell to most. It does to me. And I have the media to thank for that“, says this Ottawa woman, who reminds us of the price of our society’s demand to know.
  • The Government of Saskatchewan will be expanding its services to victims of crime such that every police jurisdiction in the province will be able to provide such services.
  • The Scottish government is considering new legislation related to victims of crime that would, in part, provide that criminals pay compensation in every case where someone has suffered injury, loss or distress.
  • Recently passed federal legislation will allow Canadian victims of terrorism to sue foreign states that sponsor terrorism.

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Sexual Offenders

  • An Ohio Supreme Court ruling will mean that juveniles convicted of sex offenses will no longer have to register for life.
  • Research suggests that courts treat female sex offenders more leniently than their male counterparts.
  • A recent study suggests that using GPS with sex offenders is associated with reduced recidivism and increased compliance. Note that the definition of recidivism used in this study has been criticized.
  • While ignoring science in formulating public policy seems widespread, nowhere is this more true than in issues involving sex.

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Mental Health

  • Canada’s long-awaited national mental health strategy makes 109 recommendations, including calls for increased funding. However, the Canadian government seems to be arguing that additional mental health funding should occur only after issues around stigmatization are resolved.
  • The UN Committee Against Torture has criticized Canada’s treatment of prisoners with mental health issues. The committee found that Canada has inadequate infrastructure to deal with the rising and complex needs of prisoners with mental illness, and continues to use inappropriate and extensively prolonged solitary confinement to deal with them. Read the report here.
  • This article addresses a University of Toronto report that is very critical of how mentally disordered women are managed in Canadian prisons.
  • Here is an interesting opinion piece on the recent controversy around the Manitoba man being considered for escorted passes after being found not criminally responsible for a gruesome murder. Based on this case, the federal justice minister is reviewing the Canadian Criminal Code with an eye to toughening review process in cases involving people found not criminally responsible for their actions.
  • Contrary to common belief, review boards work well at dealing with those found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, writes this journalist.
  •  Several U.S. states have laws that allow the court, without certification, to order treatment for mentally ill individuals who refuse treatment but whose behavior is problematic. This article provides an interesting perspective on this controversial approach.
  • As we increasingly recognize the prevalence of those with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system, some are concerned that mental illness may be misused as a mitigating factor in court.
  • Concerns about services for offenders with mental illness in prison are not restricted to Canada and the U.S. Similar concerns are being raised about the Nigerian prison system. 

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Related Interest

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Did You Know?

The Smart Justice Network is a consortium of volunteers to promote a vision of responsible justice in Canada. It was created by a number of concerned individuals and many of the names on the Chairing Committee will be known to those who have or are working in the justice system: Sheila Arthurs, Lorraine Berzins, Bob Cormier, John Edwards, Susan Haines, Willie Gibbs, Danny Graham, Catherine Latimer, Margot Lavoie, Michael Maher, Ed McIsaac, James Scott, Barry Stuart, Steve Sullivan, David Daubney and Michael Jackson.  Smart Justice puts out a daily bulletin of topical news items. Smart Justice can be contacted at: info@smartjustice.ca. Smart Justice is also on Facebook.

The BCCJA Island Branch is an active Branch of the BCCJA located largely in the south Island. Get involved! For additional up to date information on Vancouver Island activities at any time, click on the VICJA button at www.bccja.com.

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, 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. Their periodic electronic newsletter provides a quick scan of issues before government and items in the public eye and is routinely filed on our BCCJA website.  Click here for direct access to this and more recent CCJA newsletter editions.

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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….click here 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. As an example, the latest newsletter from Restorative Justice International is vailable on their web-site:  www.rjbc.ca.

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, with information on legal assistance, jury duty, corrections and court services, plus more……

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. The following is another site that provides a wealth of information on preventing domestic and sexual violence.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder website  is for justice system professionals and provides important excellent information on such matters as identification, causal factors, legal resources and effective intervention startegies. Click here.

Changing Directions, Changing Lives: A Mental Health Strategy for Canada was launched on May 12, 2012 by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The Commission exists to promote mental health in Canada, and works with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems, and to improve services and support. Check their web-site for a series of audio-visual clips on the Strategy, and also for important information regarding a number of key initiatives. Click here.

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