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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congress 2013 Update
Here’s a helpful reflection on what we may wish for Canada. The author is Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada, who is a featured speaker at the CCJA Congress in October. His article is well worth the time to read and dwell on for a while for our 2013 focus. He says: “The debate brewing about how to measure success is not just about measurement. It is a recognition that we need to participate in a real discussion about what we mean by the good life, the purpose of the economy, the kind of Canada we want. It is about decency and dignity…”
Here is another insightful article from Alex Himelfarb, who says: “…austerity fetishism is not economics; it is simply the latest expression of free market orthodoxy and, as ideology, impervious to evidence, never wrong. The belief that less government is the solution to pretty much any problem doesn’t lose a beat when the contrary evidence comes in.”
You are aware that the British Columbia and the Canadian Criminal Justice Association CCJA) will be hosting our biannual Congress in Vancouver from October 2-5, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. The theme of Congress is 21st Century Justice: the Economics of Public Safety. 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.
The Draft Program is done and is published on the CCJA website.
In addition to our our 49 plenary, sub-plenary, break-out and poster sessions, do not overlook the informative tours and pre-conference training and other activities starting on October 2nd. Some examples are a tour of the Nanaimo Correctional Centre Therepeutic Community program, or the Downtown Eastside, the Salvation Army’s Belkin House or a full day training session by Dr. Martin Brokenleg entitled “Circle of Courage!
Our website at BCCJA is undergoing a renovation and will be updated very soon!! Watch our BCCJA website from time to time for more information.
Summary of Contents
A Note From the Editors
As always, we welcome constructive feedback and suggestions at email@example.com.
SFU presents a three day seminar Monday, April 29 – Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Training: Introduction to Restorative Justice In Schools.
1) Social Justice: What social, cultural and financial dynamics are likely to affect the criminal justice system going forward?
- One of the greatest economic impacts of crime may be on the families of offenders who, in the case of minorities, often serve lengthy prison sentences.
- Here is a recent comprehensive report on human trafficking and what can be done to address it.
- This paper reviews the literature on mental health issues among older offenders.
- A largely bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate seeks to improve access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system.
- This article addresses the scale of racial disparity in U.S. prisons and suggests ways to improve the situation.
- This recently released report from the Kirwin Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (Ohio University) looks at the practice of bias in education, health care, and the criminal justice system, including the courts.
- Many communities require that sex offenders not live near public parks. An increasing number of communities are now creating “pocket parks”, some too small to allow a swing set, in order to drive sex offenders from the community.
- The Prison Reform International (PRI) Newsletter is an excellent resource for the international perspective on many of the issues facing us in Canada. Children, human rights, torture, women in prison are just some of the issues examined. Click here to sign up for their free e-news bulletin.
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?
- The White Paper on Justice Reform – Part two from the B.C. government: A Timely, Balanced Justice System (Cowper Report) is focused on changes to effect the solutions sought in Part one. The link provides a 40 page downloadable pdf with an executive summary on p. 5.
- The B.C. government endorses the Justice Reform proposal that B.C. needs to have long-overdue discussions about regional policing in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria. Read more.
- This Angus Reid poll suggests that British Columbians support the Missing Women Inquiry Recommendations, and most respondents in Metro Vancouver support the
creation of a single police force that would oversee the entire Lower Mainland.
- This important January 2013 Vera Institute paper details the very significant drop in incartceration rate and consequently the budget in New York City based on a change in police practices.
- In the UK, many volunteer agencies have entered contracts with government for services in a community with outcome measues and requirements for performance. The National Council on Voluntary Organizations (NCVO) is wondering how such contracts may long term impact on the agency? Also, more on the Payment by results Working Group.
- The Restorative Justice Council (UK) has published a series of three documents asking for commentary on establishing national standards for government adopted RJ practices. The documents are free and downloadable in pdf format.
- This item offers an international perspective on RJ among young offenders and identifies practical obstacles, insufficient personnel, and patchy availability across the justice system.
- Howard Zehr, a significant figure in the development of restorative justice, will begin co-leading the newly established Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice this year.
- We have noted that prediction models are increasingly being used in criminal justice settings. This report discusses some of the advantages and pitfalls of such an approach.
- Judges in Philadelphia have started using computerized risk prediction algorithms to inform their sentencing decisions.
- A new risk assessment tool promises to identify probationers at greatest risk to re-offend.
- We have recently directed readers to research on convicted offenders who are later found innocent. The present study sought to understand the factors involved in the criminal justice system identifying innocent defendants before they are found guilty.
- Perhaps spurred by recent high-profile rape cases, the Indian government is prepared to implement most of the recommendations from a decade-old report on sexual assault.
- Researchers will be studying the Newtown shooter’s DNA to help determine if specific abnormalities might be related to violence. Such research might help early prevention efforts.
3) Crime and Punishment: Redefining crime as a factor of economic circumstances
- “Offensive ideas are not sufficient to ground a justification for infringing freedom of expression.” And furthermore, “The prohibition of hate speech is not designed to censor ideas or to compel anyone to think correctly.” These words are from the Supreme Court of Canada in a recent finding.
- A recent report has confirmed earlier predictions: the cost of criminal justice in Canada has increased significantly as the crime rate has decreased.
- This six-way debate addresses the question: given that most inmates will one day be released, how should incarceration change to prepare people to rejoin the outside world?
- This editorial discusses a growing movement away from the use of the death penalty.
- New York City experienced a marked reduction in crime during the 1990s. Recent research is attempting to understand the factors responsible for this decline.
- Iceland is considering becoming the first western country to impose a ban on internet pornography.
- A new study has found that sex offenders monitored by GPS technology were less likely to commit new crimes or breach release conditions. The technology did increase the cost of supervision.
- South Dakota is one of the latest states to consider ways to reduce very expensive incarceration costs.
- A year after passing legislation to reduce jail time for non-violent offenses, Georgia authorities are noting a growing number of empty jail cells.
- Conservatives in California are rethinking their “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice, at least in part to save money.
- This author considers two popular views: that the criminal justice system unfairly favors or penalizes the accused.
- According to this author, we should not assume that police are always telling the truth, even under oath.
- Recent legislation in Texas has reduced both the crime rate and the number of individuals incarcerated. This article suggests that there is much more that can and should be done.
- This opinion piece reflects on the move by conservatives to rethink their historical reliance on incarceration to manage criminal justice issues.
- Newt Gingrich, who is credited with being one of the first conservatives to promote criminal justice reform in order to save money, here provides a progress update.
- Adding to the political momentum in the U.S., big business lobbies are increasingly arguing for criminal justice reform to reduce costs.
- This blogger is calls on President Obama to continue his lead on bringing about reform to the U.S. criminal justice system.
- The U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime is taking the lead on promoting criminal justice reform internationally. Their web site has a wealth of important information
- This short video describes how criminal forecasting is becoming more accurate.
- Welcome to a future in which big data helps law enforcement predict crime before it happens. Many of us will have watched the TV program Persons of Interest, which uses big data. Interesting.
- To deal with a large influx of new inmates, a California county is trying to reduce criminal behavior by targeting the risk factors that contribute to criminal activity.
- Because our “moral” approach to punishment has not worked, this author argues that an approach based on “swift, sure, but not severe” sanctions offers more promise.
- This author argues that the supposed savings promised by for-profit prisons may represent a false economy.
- A University of Thunder Bay professor of economics offers some comments about the relationship between the number of police officers and level of crime based on the latest Stats Canada report. Full Stats Canada Report.
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?
- Leaders of major cities in northern England are warning of civil unrest due the government’s austerity measures that are seen to unfairly target the north.
- The youth crime rate and youth Crime Severity Index, Canada, 2001 to 2011, tell a story. Both frequency and severity of crime are dropping from 7159 with severity of 106 in 2001, to 5564 and 83 in 2011.
- This March 2013 report from the House of Commons Justice Committee in the UK is comprehensive on all aspects of youth criminal justice in the UK together with a series of radical recommendations. Have a look.
- This is a February 2013 policy brief of three commentaries by Vera Institute on keeping schools safe; mental illness, stigma, and violence; mental health and youth violence: the provider perspective. (A 12 page free downloadable pdf. )
- What are gangs? Who makes them up? Who is at risk of being lured into belonging? What is being done? How can you protect youth? These are all questions addressed by this website, which includes contact information, put out by the University of the Fraser Valley, Centre for Safe School and Communities.
- This valuable web site has information and links to information on juvenile sex offenders as well as child abuse and neglect.
- Northern Ireland is reporting that the use of restorative justice approaches have reduced youth re-offending rates from 68% to 37%.
- A group called Reclaiming Justice provides access to what it considers the top five blogs of 2012 on juvenile justice issues. While you’re at the site, look around for much more good information on juvenile justice issues.
- Recognizing the very high rates of physical and sexual abuse in the histories of juvenile offenders, Nebraska lawmakers are arguing that the juvenile justice system should focus more on mental health services rather than punishment.
- Evidence is mounting that juvenile justice reforms that focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration are leading to reduced recidivism and lower costs.
- A recent report concludes that juvenile justice policy must be better informed by emerging research on adolescent development.
- The National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition has released a report with a number of recommendations to improve the juvenile justice system in the U.S.
Criminal Justice Policy
- An argument of numbers in which the author is suggesting that the same cost cutting focus leading to the award of contracts to private prison corporations also leads to reducing the services, programs, security, etc.
- In a similar vein, this article puts the view that public-private partnerships for government services ultimately extract profit which is paid by the tax-payer.
- The U.S. Sentencing Commission has released a major report on child pornography offenses.
- The International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy website shows the depth of the work they do.
- Many jurisdictions restrict where sex offenders can (or cannot) live. This article describes one of the potential consequences of such laws.
Criminal Justice System
- The World Justice Project recently issued a report comparing 97 countries (90% of world’s population) on a variety of criminal justice dimensions. The report makes for interesting reading and is an excellent resource.
- Spirit Matters: Aboriginal People and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, a Report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. This link provides a content outline, an executive summary and the complete report, including a conclusion and a series of recommendations.
- This Macleans magazine article talks about the impact of people representing themselves in court: clogging the justice system.
- Seeing a lack of Aboriginal participation in the jury pool is indicative of a much wider justice problem according to Iacobucci who has taken a wider view of the whole justice system. His 17 recommendations are on pp. 13-15 .
- The truth about lying. This article describes how a UBC forensic psychologist helps authorities and doctors spot the signs that give liars away.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a detailed analysis of violent crimes committed by strangers. The data cover the period 1993-2010.
- A German researcher claims to have found the part of the brain responsible for “evil” behavior.
- This article is part two of three but perhaps the most interesting on the
ethical minefield of using neuroscience to prevent crime.
- This web site provides a variety of information on stalking.
- This article discusses two recent studies suggesting that the amount and content of TV viewing by children can effect later antisocial behavior and criminality.
- This new report from the Vera Institute presents some perhaps surprising findings in suggesting that children with disabilities are at almost three times greater risk of sexual abuse.
- This study funded by Google Ideas attempts to understand how gangs use the internet in the US. Three University of Arizona professors/researchers went on the street and interviewed gang members for this report.
- The article reviews the theory of the impact of lead in gasoline, its removal and the consequent reduction in crime rates because people are smarter and their behaviour improved once the lead was removed from gas and paint.
- This research posits that gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.
- A new study suggests many criminals use religious belief to rationalize criminal behavior. The study also reports that religious belief is not a deterrent to crime. The following is another report on this phenomenon. Read more.
- An increased use of bear spray by criminals is posing challenges for police, given that the product is legal to purchase and even carry in B.C.
- Calgary police have paired mental health professionals with officers in a highly successful program called PACT. More on PACT
- A University of Alberta psychiatrist in the faculty of medicine is the lead on a promising study of how to train police in dealing more effectively with incidents involving mental health issues.
- What a novel idea! The citizens meet the new police commissioner and respond to the draft crime plan. The region includes provision for “a place of safety unit” for vulnerable persons.
- Founded in 2005 in Scotland, the Violence Reduction Unit is directed by the police. The tag for the unit is “Violence is preventable, not inevitable.” It advocates early childhood care and education in response to unacceptable levels of violence.
- This joint project with Dalhousie, Halifax Regional Police and the NS Department of Justice seeks to resolve criminal cases involving Dalhousie students before they get into the criminal justice system using a RJ model for pre-charge and post charge.
- Here’s a curiosity: click, print, shoot: guns made on 3D printers will be reality sooner than you think, describes this article. Read more.
Corrections and Community
- Howard Sapers is disappointed with CSC’s response to the critique of the treatment of Canada’s growing Aboriginal prison population. CSC has reportedly declined all ten recommendations.
- There are 14,000 federal prisoners and 24,000 inmates in provincial prisons and remand centers in Canada. According to the authors of the linked item, management of chronic diseases and mental health disorders, preventive care, continuity of care, and transfer or release planning may get neglected.
- Some time ago the federal government closed farm programs associated with prisons on the grounds that a different job focus was needed. This report suggests the job skills development programs now in place are either obsolete or without real opportunities.
- The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) starts the first of a series on health issues in prisons. The listing of areas of concern is part of this first article.
- This the next article in the CMAJ. Author Nathan Stall, MD, supported by Howard
Sapers and government documents, suggests a failure to follow through on community support in the face of de-institutionalization, the ‘tough-on-crime’ agenda and overcrowding are among the causes of the current crisis.
- The Nova Scotia Justice Department has spent $26K to provide a pets for prisoners program in N.S. The report stirring some controversy is a 2 ½ minute video.
- Rick Mercer’s Rant for January 22, 2013 recalls the silliness around the denial of the pizza for prisoners.
- This article discusses issues around incarcerating sex offenders for crimes they have yet to commit.
- There is a growing movement to differentiate pedophiles from child molesters. This movement raises some ethical issues that this excellent article discusses.
- This interesting article considers the possible origins of pedophilia.
- This web site has a range of useful information about public disclosure about sex offenders, much of it from a British perspective.
- This interesting series of articles debate the question of whether there are too many restrictions on sex offenders or too few.
- This report documents significant improvement in violence against youth. Serious violent crime against youth has declined by 77% from 1994-2010.
- Women who have been sexually assaulted while serving in the U.S. military are complaining that military leadership cannot be trusted to respond to their complaints.
- Some rapes on college campuses are dealt with by the college rather than the police. Here is an interest debate on the merits and demerits of each approach.
- A victim and long-time advocate for victims is suggesting a new venture jointly with St. Leonard’s Society. Candace House is a place for families of victims to find support and learn about the justice system’s response to crime, and their own role in the outcomes.
- A recent study attempts to determine whether prisons lead to mental health problems or whether these problems predate incarceration.
- Here is another article on this topic of the possible impact of prisons, with the question does prison bring on mental illness.
- A Swedish / American study of over 7 million has concluded that the mentally ill are five times more likely than the general population to be a victim of homicide. Add substance abuse to the mix and the rate goes to nine.
- This report is important reading for anyone interested in measures that address mental health and criminal justice.
- This website contains information and blogs on topics related to mental health and criminal justice; it’s worth checking out.
- U of Conn researchers have three new aids for treating mental illness in prisons: a program called Start Now, some refinements in the medication to treat bi-polar disorder and an evidence based assessment tool to diagnose mental disorder on admission to prison.
- This report is the beginning of a Mental Health Intervention Classification (MHIC) system designed in Australia aimed at allowing “a consistent scheme for mental health interventions for use in Australian health care settings.”
- This policy brief by the Vera Institute contributes to the knowledge on violence against children, and provides three perspectives from Vera experts on school safety, mental illness, and the delivery of mental health services. Link has a down-loadable pdf of 12 pages.
- This site provides monthly lectures by eminent neuroscientists on a wide variety of topics related to brain function.
- Criminality is often associated with lack of empathy. This article explores recent research on how children learn to develop empathy.
- New research suggests that those with more power are much more confident about “right” and especially “wrong”, and feel more comfortable punishing transgressions more severely.
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 who have or are working in the justice system. Smart Justice puts out a daily bulletin of topical news items. Smart Justice can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.