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 email@example.com.
Congress 2013 Update
Our readers are aware that the British Columbia and Canadian Criminal Justice Associations will be hosting our biannual Congress in Vancouver from October2-5, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. The theme of Congress is 21st Century Justice: the Economics of Public Safety, reflecting the impact of fiscal realities on criminal justice policy and operation. Congress planners have defined four major sub-themes: 1) social justice, 2) preserving the rule of law, 3) crime and punishment, and 4) responding to civil unrest. In addition, there will be a particular focus on youth-justice issues and content of particular interest to municipal officials. For more on the context, read this article by Glenn Angus, Program Chair. We also invite you to visit our BCCJA website from time to time and follow this newsletter for ongoing Congress developments.
Between now and Congress, the Newsletter will highlight topical issues related to the Congress themes. The themes are not mutually exclusive, nor are the items included therein intended as exhaustive! You will note the Congress links in the Summary of Contents section, as well as our usual favourite topic headings.
Summary of Contents
A Note From the Editors
Accessing information from previous recent editions is as simple as clicking on “Recent Editions”, to your right.
As always, we welcome constructive feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 25-26, 2012 in Vancouver the Pacific Business and Law Institute presents a conference: Rethinking Justice: Building Partnerships Between Police and Aboriginal People for Healthy Communities. Click here for registration and full description of the panels, speakers and events.
The theme for Restorative Justice Week 2012, which will be held November 18-25, 2012, is “Diverse Needs; Unique Responses”. This theme recognizes that restorative justice is an approach that addresses the various needs of people impacted by crime and conflict that are created when a person has been harmed or treated unfairly.
The 6th annual Alberta Restorative Justice Conference is being held November 22-23, 2012. For information on this conference and on pre-conference training, click here.
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.
1) Social Justice: What social, cultural and financial dynamics are likely to affect the criminal justice system going forward?
- Beyond mental disability, many defendants in the UK are unable to fully understand the trial process or engage fully with their trial.
- The Canadian government has cut youth justice services by 20% which may mean that fewer youth will be diverted from the more expensive court/jail system.
- Here is an interview with Robert Sampson of Harvard about his long-term study of inequality in Chicago neighbourhoods. Sampson explains the concept of “collective efficacy,” which he coined to describe the catalytic effect of group responses to neighbourhood problems.
- Economists and law professors at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania have published a new study that confirms that the criminal justice system in the U.S. is racially biased across a variety of justice processes.
- The Correctional Service of Canada will have to trim almost $300 million from its budget by 2015.
- Vancouver police recently hosted the first-ever VPD Women’s Safety Fair, with more than 150 women attending the event. Read more here.
- A British pilot project is locating mental health professionals in police stations to improve timely access to necessary mental health services.
- Some inmates in Australia’s Northern Territory are being held in jail for years without having been convicted due to the absence of alternate mental health services.
- Recent research suggests that a nation’s belief in heaven and hell predicts its crime rate.
- With three western American states mulling legalized marijuana and the Union of B.C. Municipalities voting in a majority to legalize it, a new group wants the province to stop enforcing the federal criminal ban on pot. Read more here.
- A recent report, “Unasked Questions, Unintended Consequences: Fifteen Findings and Recommendations on Illinois’ Prison Healthcare System,” released by the John Howard Association, focuses on the current state of Illinois’ prison healthcare system. Their observations concerning the aging prison inmate population is of particular interest. Here is the original summary of report and the Full Report downloadable pdf file.
2) Preserving the Rule of Law: As financial and other barriers increasingly affect how justice is delivered (e.g., availability of legal aid, time to trial), how do we ensure the credibility of the rule of law?
- This author argues that Canada’s outdated and disjointed Criminal Code needs a complete revision rather that the piecemeal approach to change currently adopted.
- The law of sentencing in Canada is being pulled in opposing directions: Parliament regularly legislates new mandatory sentences that limit judicial discretion while the Supreme Court strongly affirms the “highly individualized” nature of sentencing. The recent decision in R v Ipeelee arguably puts the principles relevant to the sentencing of Aboriginal people on a collision course with the substantial limits on judicial discretion that are central to mandatory minimum sentences. Read more here.
- The recent Cowper report prepared at the request of the B.C. government calls for a complete overhaul of the British Columbia criminal justice system. Access the full report here.
- A pilot project in Kelowna Provincial Court shows setting early, certain trial dates can resolve most cases before they go to trial, Vancouver lawyer Geoffrey Cowper discovered during the review in the previous item.
- As lawyers and firms continue to struggle to find the balance between making money, having a life and achieving job satisfaction, new models of law practice are beginning to emerge, both here and internationally.
- Protect our legal culture from so-called reforms, says the President of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
- More jurisdictions are moving toward predictive analysis software to anticipate and prevent crime.
- The British government is considering legislation that would significantly reduce time to resolve certain crimes, including “flash incarceration” for breach of probation, holding court on weekends and in community centres rather than courts. Here is the document describing the details of plans to expedite the criminal justice system.
- Pennsylvania has passed major legislation that allow a broader range of interesting options in dealing with offenders.
- The Washington state Department of Corrections is taking a new “swift and certain” approach to violations, after evidence has shown that throwing people in jail for a long amount of time doesn’t correct criminal behavior.
- The Canadian Bar Association has raised concerns that the federal government’s crime legislation will put great strains on criminal justice system resources.
3) Crime and Punishment: Redefining crime as a factor of economic circumstances
- Hennessy’s Index: A number is never just a number–some interesting comparative criminal justice statistics.
- The stigma of labels and unfounded fears hinders a variety of programs that would aid in the successful rehabilitation of offenders.
- Fear-driven policies: Ottawa’s harsh new penal proposals won’t make us safer, just poorer—and less humane posits Michael Jackson (Faculty of Law, U.B.C.) and Graham Stewart (former Executive Director of the Johyn Howard Society). .
- This op-ed piece argues for a rethinking of our approach to criminal justice policy, and urges consideration of traditional Aboriginal principles.
- Liberals and Conservatives alike often have agreed that our criminal justice system should rehabilitate offenders — until now. This is an interesting historically looking opinion piece.
- The Toronto Board of Trade says jobs could be part of the solution to curb the rising gang violence in the city. The police are already running an interesting program. Read more here.
- Next to family, corrections officials in Iowa say a relationship with community is key to preventing an offender’s return to jail or prison. A successful program launched in 2007, called Each One Reach One, connects offenders with volunteers who can help them find work.
- The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission once faced scores of backlogged files, but it has caught up with its caseload since incorporating restorative justice. Read more.
- Crime is more than a numbers game. Ottawa may feel differently, but there are myriad reasons why the statistics say Canada is safer, says columnist Peter McNight in this interesting piece. Read more.
- This opinion piece suggests support for easy access to social and mental health services will prevent serious violence.
- More than 94% of crime victims who saw offenders punished by restorative justice approaches have been left satisfied by the outcome, a figure the police describe as “phenomenally high”.
- Transforming Conflict: The National Center for Restorative Approaches in Youth Settings in the U.K. website provides national information, resources, training and support on the topic of restorative justice.
- Security, with Care: Restorative Justice and Healthy Societies is a book recently published by Elizabeth Elliott (since deceased), who spent the last 25 years writing about, teaching, and living restorative justice principles. Here is a review excerpt.
- Heartspeak Productions and Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives are pleased to announce the release of Restorative Justice Is The Law.
- A recently published book is part of the larger project Restoring Communities: Using Restorative Justice with Riots carried out through a partnership between IARS and the Centre for Restorative Justice (Simon Fraser University).
- This interesting opinion piece discusses Canada’s attitude about the purpose of the criminal justice system over the last 70 years.
- An internal federal government report earlier this year reported that many Canadians believe the criminal justice system is under-funded and that young people are not being punished.
- Statistics Canada has released data suggesting Canada’s crime rate is at levels not seen since 1972. Some of the data are available here. The main exception to this overall decline seems to involve crimes committed by women, although some suggest this is an artifact. However, the public’s continued belief that criminal justice system is too lax has encouraged the government’s continued “tough on crime” stance.
- A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics provides important data on serious crimes that are not reported to police.
- A Roman Catholic Church official has been convicted of child endangerment, thus becoming the first U.S. church official convicted of a crime for how he handled abuse claims.
- A recent study based on DNA analyses suggests that up to 15% of individuals convicted of sexual assault may in fact be innocent. You can access the full report here.
4) Responding to Civil Unrest: What does the growth in events such as the occupy movement, the Stanley Cup riots and the student demonstrations in Quebec reflect and how should the criminal justice system respond?
- The Vancouver Sun published a database for all those accused of offenses relating to the Stanley Cup Riots. The issue for debate: in the age of the internet there is now unparalleled access to details about criminal charges and they can continue to be available for long after the old media versions would have been forgotten.
- Following the London riots, some have been urging more community involvement to address antisocial behavior. A report has concluded that this would require public education and training. An informal survey suggests about half of citizens would participate in such training.
- The U.K. government is putting forward plans to speed up the time it takes for courts to deal with offenders in England and Wales, following a similar approach undertaken in the aftermath of last summer’s riots. But will expediancy trump justice? . See also the White Paper: Swift and Sure Justice.
- Burglar’s apology rings true, while rioter gets gears: a message for culprits everywhere. Read more here.
- It’s been a year since the riots broke out in London, and figures show that prison sentences totalling more than 1,800 years (an average of 16.8 months each) have been handed out to those involved in the disorder.
- The following is the response of the John Howard Society to Minister Toews commentary on the JHS position regarding the “get tough on crime” approach.
- The war on drugs has failed, and policies need to change now. Those words come from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, an international consortium that includes such dignitaries as the former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Poland and Greece, former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz and former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker.
- The Uganda Prison Services has opposed the death penalty, saying the purpose of prisons is to rehabilitate wrong-doers, and not kill them.
- The U.S. administration has taken a strong stand on preventing and dealing with violence against women and girls globally. Here are links to the Executive Order and a related strategy paper.
- Here’s an interesting opinion piece on “marketing” crime legislation.
- It is not uncommon for countries such as Canada to refuse extradition if the subject might receive the death penalty. Now, a British court has refused to extradite a sex offender to the US because of the possibility that he might be civilly committed as a dangerous sex offender.
- Here is a brief overview of the Vatican’s criminal justice system.
The Law and Courts
- The biggest issues facing the country are being tackled not by Parliament, but in court says this writer in Maclean’s Magazine.
- Two rulings by B.C. Supreme Court judges should be reading for anyone concerned about where the buck stops in Canada, says Ian Mulgrew. Read more here.
- A divided US Supreme Court struck down mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder, ruling the widespread practice violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Nationally, about 2,500 prisoners are serving life sentences without parole for murders they committed before turning 18.
- The government has had a go—in fact several—at reforming prisons and policing in the U.K.. Now it’s the turn of the courts, says this article in The Economist.
- Police alone can’t stop gangs, says Toronto Chief Bill Blair. Gang violence at its root not as one neighbourhood’s problem but a social issue that demands solutions from Toronto’s business and community leaders. Here is a Globe and Mail video about the editorial board with Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair on gun violence.
- A MADD report highlights shortfalls of measures against drug-impaired driving. Read more.
- Thousands of British Columbians could be tracked by police without their knowledge as part of an expanded mass surveillance system being considered by the RCMP. Read more here.
- A new report says RCMP use of stun guns continued to drop in 2010. Read more.
- Although some think Compstat introduces incentives for police to “fiddle” the figures, most analysts agree that it has improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the police in Los Angeles, and other cities with similar systems. Crime in America has plummeted since its numerical peak in 1992.
- An Alberta judge deems interrogation method used across North America ‘oppressive’. The ruling says the widely used Reid Technique infringes on rights. Read more.
- The Seattle Police Department recently launched a new advertising campaign on buses and billboards in hopes of generating tips about unsolved killings. Above the photos of the cold cases is a simple question: “Who Killed Me?” Read more here.
Children and Youth
- There is widespread agreement in Toronto that a balanced solution to youth violence is needed— a strategy with both short- and long-term elements, says the Roots to Youth Violence Report.
- A $10 million injection of new federal funding through the National Crime Prevention Centre is aimed for programs across a broad spectrum to keep youth away from street gangs and crime, but some say it still falls short of what’s needed.
- A new strategy for combating bullying in B.C. is called ERASE Bullying (Expect Respect and a Safe Education). It will include the creation of online tools ― including Smartphone apps ― for kids, parents and others to report bullying and threats anonymously; safe school coordinators in all 60 districts; tougher codes of conduct in every school; and more professional development and pre-service training for teachers.
- In spite of long-held open court principles, the Supreme Court of Canada says a 15-year-old girl from Nova Scotia can proceed with an anonymous cyber-bullying lawsuit.
- A U.S.-wide coalition of youth, parents, educators, grassroots and advocacy groups has published a Model Code on Education and Dignity. The Code promotes restorative practices as “one of the most successful and widely used school-wide preventive and positive approaches to discipline.
- New family law aims to simplify splitting up. Read more.
- The Canadian Medical Association Journal has called for repeal of the law which allows the spanking of children. The journal notes that according to research over the last 20 years, spanking does little good and yet could cause significant harm. Read more:
Corrections and Community
- B.C. Corrections has begun to address the problem of illiteracy within prison walls, but once out, inmates have few options for help. Read more.
- A Serco-run (privatized) prison is contracted on a ‘payment by results’ model – the first of its kind in the UK prison sector. Ten per cent of the prison’s annual revenue is dependent on a 5% reduction in reoffending rates.
- Over the last three years, there has been a sharp increase in violence in Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) prisons. While some attribute the increase to overcrowding, others argue that a breakdown in the traditional “con code” is responsible.
- Here is an interview with the federal Ombudsman for Prisons who describes his views on the reasons for increased prison violence. And here is the government’s response to the issue.
- The swelling ranks of aboriginal women in the federal prison system amount to “nothing short of a crisis,” says a report commissioned by the Public Safety Department.
- For every dollar spent establishing a secure treatment unit for female prisoners in Ontario, three dollars could be saved in hospital, court, jail and social service costs, according to an economic analysis prepared for the Royal Ottawa Health Group.
- A former federal inmate and four AIDS prevention organizations are suing the federal government for failing to provide needle and syringe exchange programs inside Canadian federal prisons, seeking a supervisory or structural injunction.
- According to recent internal documents, nine of out of Manitoba’s 11 jails are overcrowded, some at double capacity. Headingly’s facility’s capacity is 486 but as of August 16, there were 814 inmates in the prison.
- Maryland’s prison agency is teaming up with a guide-dog group to have jailed veterans train service dogs for wounded and disabled military veterans.
- Texas is considering changes to their administrative segregation policies, less because of the psychological damage such confinement causes, but due to public safety concerns once such offenders are released.
- Fiji is also experiencing overcrowded prisons and is looking to early release in order to cope.
- The CSC is trying to develop better strategies to keep inmates from using contraband cell phones.
- The Indiana Department of Corrections has stopped offering college classes, opting instead for more vocational training, including training in coal mining.
- In 2004, First Circuit Judge Steven Alm launched a pilot program to reduce probation violations by drug offenders and others at high risk of recidivism. This high-intensity supervision program, called HOPE Probation (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement), is the first and only of its kind in the nation.
- An important 45-year follow-up study has reported that victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are more likely to both commit and become victims of sexual and violent offenses as adults. However, the vast majority of CSA victims (99%) had no adult criminal record related to a sexual offense.
- We previously noted concerns that findings of biological underpinnings of psychopathy might influence sentencing decisions of these individuals. Now a study, using actual court judges, has confirmed that attributing biological causality may reduce sentence length. Here is a second review of these findings.
- This lecture provides an overview of organized crime including tips for police on how to take advantage of criminal personality traits.
- Claims are made that up to 10% of inmates in British prisons are former military personnel.
Victims of Crime
- The British Royal College of Psychiatrists is raising concerns about mental health sequelae for victims of violent crime.
- Ireland is considering a range of recommendations to improve the treatment of victims of crime by the criminal justice system.
- While child physical abuse seems to be on a steady decline, recent research has suggested increased abuse in areas hardest hit by the recession.
- A series of studies addressing the physical, psychological and social effects of adverse childhood experiences has been ongoing since the mid-1990s. You can access the list of publications here.
- Here’s an interesting opinion piece on the nature of pedophilia versus child molestation. And here is a CNN interview and another opinion piece on the same issues.
- Finland is following Germany in offering treatment to those with pedophilic interests who have not offended. The hope is to prevent offenses rather than simply respond after the fact.
- Further to the last items, here’s an article about pedophiles who are devoted to not acting out on their pedophilic interests. In fact, there is now an organization for such individuals.
- This article notes the decline in child sexual abuse over time and offers some explanations. Here’s another take on the same issue.
- The paper argues for new strategies to reduce sexual recidivism with a focus on therapeutic jurisprudence. There are several links on the page to access the full report.
- A California state appeals court has ruled that requiring all sex offenders to live more than 2000 feet from schools and parks is unconstitutional. The law has resulted in high levels of homelessness among thousands of sex offenders. Read more here.
- Riverview closure in B.C. marks the end of an era, and it’s story reflects changes in public and mental health policy over the decades. Read more.
- A recent study investigating recidivism among violent, mentally disordered offenders found less recidivism among those released from forensic psychiatric facilities rather than prisons.
- Ireland is reviewing measures to ensure that expanded mental health capacity would apply to people involved in the criminal justice system.
- As debate about the new version of the DSM continues, all entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the U.S. will soon have to adopt an alternate diagnostic system – the ICD-10-CM.
- A recent study has found no long term effects of prolonged use of drugs used to treat ADHD on brain development or likelihood of later drug addiction.
- The province’s privacy watchdog has expanded its examination of criminal record checks done by prospective employers to include those in the private sector. Read more.
- The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime is currently working on a resource site for missing adults in Canada. Click here to learn more.
- A recent MRI study showing how the brain functions when we need to exert self-control raises questions about the nature of self-control.
- A classic study from more than 60 years ago suggesting that males are more promiscuous, and females more choosy, when selecting mates may be wrong according to the first scientists to repeat the historic experiment using the same methods as the original.
- New research has challenged the popular notion that eye movements signal whether someone is telling the truth.
- A well-controlled study has found that “normal” (i.e., non-abusive) physical punishment of children can increase mental disorders in adulthood.
- This paper discusses the ethical issues involved in doing criminal justice research with human subjects.
- A recent study has found six factors that significantly predict violence (including bullying) among children aged 7-11. Factors include media violence exposure, low parental involvement and physical victimization.
- Beware the drug policy heretics. B.C. Health Officer Perry Kendall has learned the hard way that long-held dogma must not be challenged. Read more here.
- Education departments in states and cities across the US are putting an end to so-called zero-tolerance policies because they have proved ineffective at improving school safety or student performance and have increased student suspensions and expulsions at an alarming rate.
- The findings from recent research supports that alcohol should receive primary attention in school-based substance abuse prevention programming, as the use of other substances could be impacted by delaying or preventing alcohol use. In this related link provided by the University of Florida author Adam Barry comments on this study.
- Irene Berkey, International and Foreign Law Librarian at Northwestern Law, has posted an announcement of a project that has been in the works and is now launched. It is a free database with superb references to primary law and human rights reports. This will be of great benefit to researchers, both academic and practicing, in the area of international human rights law.
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: email@example.com. 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.
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. 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.