Friday, November 3, 2017

Ontario Strengthening Police Oversight, Redefining Core Police Duties
"Sweeping changes to Ontario's policing laws were introduced Thursday, including strengthening oversight, making it possible to suspend officers without pay and redefining police duties.

The new rules, contained in a massive piece of legislation years in the making, would include the first update to the province's Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

'The issues faced by police services and their members today are far more complex than when the act was developed,' said Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde. 'The last time the act was revised, there was no internet, the Blue Jays won the World Series and you needed a briefcase to carry your cellphone.'
Many of the policing updates stem from Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch's report on police oversight, released earlier this year, and include requiring the Special Investigations Unit or SIU, one of the province's police oversight agencies, to report publicly on all of its investigations and release the names of officers charged."

Ontario Ombudsman: Submission to the Independent Police Oversight Review

Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review

 

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Correctional Services Canada Failing Younger Inmates, Advocates Argue in Report
"Canada's prison watchdog and Ontario's Child Advocate say Correctional Service Canada is squandering opportunities to turn young federal inmates' lives around.

'The majority of them are not enrolled in programs or school, not because they're not motivated but because they're wait listed and there are very few programs being offered,' said Canada's Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger in an interview with CBC News. 'They're also not connecting with the programs.'

Zinger said Correctional Services Canada has designed programs — such as anger management — with an older inmate in mind, when younger offenders require basic skills such as how to prepare meals, apply for a job and open a bank account.

The report ... titled 'Missed Opportunities,' was produced by Zinger and Ontario's child advocate, Irwin Elman.

'Young people who find themselves in adult custody should have, and be given, the opportunity to positively change the direction of their lives,' said Elman.

'As we stated at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, the adult correctional system is not equipped to ensure this happens.'"

Related Report: Children and Young People In Custody in Scotland 

 

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Why Don't Police Body Cameras Work Like We Expected?
"Police-worn body cameras do not reduce the instances of police use of force. Nor do they reduce citizen complaints about excessive force. These are the unexpected findings from the largest study to date on the subject, which casts doubt on the generally accepted wisdom regarding body camera effectiveness. “We found essentially that we could not detect any statistically significant effect of the body-worn cameras,” said Anita Ravishankar, one of the researchers behind the study."

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Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
"Every state and the federal government allow prison sentences that are so long that death in prison is presumed. This report provides a comprehensive profile of those living in this deep end of the justice system. Our analysis provides current figures on people serving life with parole (LWP) and life without parole (LWOP) as well as a category of long-term prisoner that has not previously been quantified: those serving “virtual” or de facto life sentences. Even though virtual life sentences can extend beyond the typical lifespan, because the sentences are not legally considered life sentences, traditional counts of life-sentenced prisoners have excluded them until now."

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Women Need Health and Dental Care to Stay Out of Prison
"In British Columbia, the population of women prisoners is on the rise. The number of women incarcerated each year has increased 20 per cent between 2012 and 2015. There have been few studies to date on the rates of return to prison among the female prison population. There is research that evaluates the effectiveness of substance abuse programming, investigates risk factors for return to prison and the effectiveness of community-based after care. None have examined the role of health-related factors.

Our research study, Doing Time, began with participatory health research forums held within the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. In these forums, inmates gathered informally to talk about their life trajectories and what their hopes for the future were. They are described in more detail in our book, Arresting Hope.

Inmates also identified the health and social goals they believed would help them transition successfully into the community."

View the Study
 

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"Cooking them to Death": the Lethal Toll of Hot Prisons
"...Although there are no national figures on how many prisoners die of heat illness, horror stories emerge every summer: inmates screaming 'Help us!' out of the windows of a St. Louis jail; New Hampshire men flooding their scorching cells to cool them down; Arizona prisoners whose shoes melt in the sun.

A growing segment of the incarcerated population is especially heat-sensitive. Jails and prisons house an increasing number of people with mental illness; as many as one in five Texas prisoners are prescribed psychotropic medications, which make the body more vulnerable to heat. A similar number receive blood pressure drugs, which can cause the same problem. And the rise of longer sentences in the 1980s and 90s has produced a surge of older prisoners, who are particularly susceptible to heat illnesses...."

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Harvard Study Shows Actual Number of People Killed by U.S. Police
"In a revelatory new study published Tuesday, Harvard public health researchers report that in 2015, a total of 1,166 people were killed by police in the United States. What’s staggering about this research is not just the massive number of police killings it reports — and knowing that many of those police aren’t disciplined, — but the fact that scientists were able to conduct the study at all. Historically, the U.S. government has been unable to provide a full count of people killed by police that has the confidence of federal statisticians.

This new study, published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, is the first to quantify the undercounting of police-related deaths in both a nationwide death certificate data and in a news media-based database — which makes it the most accurate count the public has to date."

 

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Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie
"This report provides a first-of-its-kind detailed view of the 219,000 women incarcerated in the United States, and how they fit into the even larger picture of correctional control. Since 2014, the Prison Policy Initiative has quantified the number of people incarcerated in the United States, and calculated the breakdown of people held by each correctional system by offense in an annual Whole Pie: Mass Incarceration report. This report, done in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, finally provides similar data on women incarcerated in the Unites States. We break the data down to show the various correctional systems that control women, and to examine why women in the various systems of confinement are locked up."
 

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Prison: Evidence of its Use and Overuse from Around the World
"Across much of the world, recent decades have seen rapid and unrelenting growth in the use of imprisonment as a response to crime and social disorder. Today, well over 10 million people are imprisoned worldwide. Jurisdictions that have seen the fastest growth in prisoner numbers include the United States, where the total prison population more than quadrupled from around half a million in 1980 to its peak of over 2.3 million in 2008. Brazil has seen prisoner numbers increase twenty-fold from around 30,000 in 1973 to over 600,000 today. England and Wales provides another – albeit less dramatic – example of prison population growth: in 1975 there were around 40,000 prisoners; by 2012 the number had more than doubled to almost 87,000."

"This report looks at patterns of imprisonment in ten contrasting jurisdictions across all five continents of the world."

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Short but not Sweet: a Study of the Impact of Short Custodial Sentences on Mothers &Their Children
"This research report is based on a small scale study of 17 post prison mothers, and their fifty children The report serves to highlight the significant harm of short custodial sentences on mothers and their children. The report, heavy with the voices of post prison mothers, identifies mothers' own view of the impact of short custodial sentences on themselves and their children. Mothers described challenges to their physical and mental health, challenges in relation to contact, lack of maternal support and significant impact on children. The report echo's previous research findings in relation to the harm of custodial sentences for mothers, reiterating that previously identified harms occur even when sentences are a matter of weeks as opposed to months. The report makes recommendations for positive change. The report concludes with suggestions for future research."

View the Report

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Knowing More, But Accomplishing What? Developing Approaches to Measure the Effects of Information-Sharing on Criminal Justice Outcomes
"Information-sharing became a central element of the policy debate about U.S. homeland and national security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, sharing of information across jurisdictional lines is just as important for everyday criminal justice efforts to prevent and investigate crime, and systems to provide such capabilities have been in place for many years. Despite widespread belief that information-sharing is valuable, there have been relatively limited efforts to measure its effect on criminal justice outcomes. To help address this need, we examined the measurement of information-sharing effects from the strategic to the tactical levels, with a focus on developing reliable measurements that capture the range of ways sharing can affect outcomes and how the practicalities of law enforcement work practices can affect measurement. In collaboration with an advanced regional information-sharing agency, we developed techniques to examine the effects of multiple types of data-sharing at the officer, case, and offender levels. Analyses showed significant correlations between different types of sharing on the level of interagency involvement in cases for individual offenders, on the timing and likelihood of specific law enforcement events, and on the likelihood of individual police officers to be involved in cross-jurisdictional arrests. In addition, we explored lessons for future policy evaluation and information system design to facilitate measurement."

View the Report

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Cocaine Consumption on the Rise?  Think Again
"Colombia's coca cultivation boom is not only being blamed for increased cocaine consumption in the United States, it is also being held responsible for an alleged growth in local demand in Colombia. But the evidence doesn't stack up. And these unsubstantiated notions are being used to drum up support for misguided anti-narcotic policies."

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When Bad DNA Tests Lead to False Convictions
"If you’ve ever watched a prime-time crime drama like CSI, you know that DNA evidence is often the linchpin that makes a case. Match a suspect’s DNA to DNA found at the scene of a crime and it’s certain they’re the culprit. The thing is, it’s not always that simple. Most people think of DNA testing as a monolithic, infallible technique. But there are many different kinds of tests—and many different ways of interpreting them. Sometimes, somewhere between the process of collecting evidence at the scene and processing it in the lab, something goes awry."

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Federal Prisons at a Crossroads
"The number of people incarcerated in federal prisons has declined substantially in recent years. In fact, while most states enacted reforms to reduce their prison populations over the past decade, the federal prison system has downsized at twice the nationwide rate. But recently enacted policy changes at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and certain Congressional proposals appear poised to reverse this progress.

Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), and the DOJ reduced the federal prison population by reforming sentencing laws, revising sentencing guidelines, and modifying charging directives, respectively. But the DOJ's budget proposal for 2018 forecasts a 2% increase in the federal prison population."

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