Friday, May 29, 2015


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How America Overdosed on Drug Courts
"Hailed as the most compassionate way for the criminal justice system to deal with addicts, drug courts were designed to balance punishment with rehabilitation. But after 25 years, the verdict is in: Drug courts embolden judges to practice medicine without a license—and they put lives in danger....

...Drug courts celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. Designed for defendants who have committed non-violent felonies such as drug dealing or burglary while addicted, they have been touted as a perfect balance of treatment and punishment, and as a way for the most corrigible offenders to avoid the harsh sentences mandated by drug-war laws. The idea is appealingly simple. If defendants complete a program of drug testing and mandatory treatment—often including short jail terms, known as flash incarcerations, in the case of serious rule violations—they can avoid lengthy mandatory prison terms. Those who fail to 'graduate' from the program, in the self- improvement-geared parlance of drug courts, face the mandated sentence, or sometimes an even harsher one. Coercion, the theory goes, is the key to rehabilitation."
 

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Rampant Telecom Surveillance Conducted with little Transparency, Oversight
"Canadian telecommunications providers have been handing over vast amounts of customer information to law enforcement and government departments and agencies with little transparency or oversight, a new report says.

'We conclude that serious failures in transparency and accountability indicate that corporations are failing to manage Canadians' personal information responsibly,' says the report released by Citizen Lab today that examines how Canadian telecommunications data is monitored, collected and analyzed by groups such as police, intelligence and government agencies."

View the Full Report
 

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Thursday, May 28, 2015




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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shorter Sentences, Shrinking Prisons
"A new report by some of New York’s key criminal justice players recommends major changes to the state’s sentencing system. The report ... would reduce the length of prison sentences and broaden eligibility for probation and other alternatives to incarceration for about one-third of the felony convictions New York hands down each year. The report would also end the state parole board’s traditional role as the arbiter of when, exactly, prisoners go home."

View the Report

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Your Brain, Race, and Criminal Justice
"Researchers have used pictures of faces like these to study something called implicit bias.  University of Washington psychologist Anthony G. Greenwald aNd his colleagues devised an "implicit association test" or IAT - in which people are instructed to match words and pictures that represent concepts, and response time and accuracy are used as indicators of the strength of the association between these concepts.  this test is based on the premise that it is less mentally taxing to match concepts that are closely related in our minds (e.g., names of flowers like 'tulip' and pleasant-meaning words like 'happy').  People respond faster and more accurately when pairing concepts that are automatically associated.  Racial bias has been measured in this way, and the test results show that participants are faster at pairing positive words with white faces than they are at pairing positive words with black faces.  The converse is true with negative words.  It turns out, most Americans - regardless of their own racial group - exhibit unconscious pro-white, anti-black attitudes on the IAT."

Related Document: State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2014
 

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Legal Analysis of the Proposed Bill C-51, the Canadian Anti-terrorism Act, 2015: Potential Impact on Freedom of Expression
"This analysis looks at the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, of Bill C-51, from the perspective of the right to freedom of expression.  It is based on international standards which form the basis of the mandate of the OSCE in relation to freedom of expression.  These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has ratified, and other OSCE Commitments in this area.

Key Recommendations:
  • Proposed section 83.221 of the Criminal Code should be limited to direct and intentional incitement to commit terrorism offences.
  • The definition of ‘terrorist propaganda’ in proposed section 83.222(8) of the Criminal Code should similarly be limited to material which incites others to commit terrorism offences.
  • The standard for engaging the seizure or suppression measures in proposed sections 83.222 and 83.223 of the Criminal Code should be more stringent than mere ‘reasonable grounds’, for example by requiring there to be ‘substantial grounds’, and some risk of harm, such as a likelihood of incitement to terrorism, should be added.
  • The proposed Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and Secure Travel Act should be reviewed to ensure that it strikes an appropriate balance between privacy (and freedom of expression) and the need to combat terrorism, including by limiting its scope to information that really is required to be shared to combat terrorism and by putting in place more robust oversight mechanisms."

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Punishing the Most Heinous Crimes: Analysis and Recommendations Related to Bill C-53 (Life Means Life Act)
"...The main arguments supporting Bill C-53 are that it: enhances proportionality in murder sentencing; reflects denunciation and retribution in sentencing heinous murders, which are very important sentencing principles for serious and violence crime; spares victims the ordeal of frequent and ongoing automatic parole board hearings for murderers after their parole ineligibility periods have expired; ensures the protection of victims and society; and potentially contributes to general deterrence.

On the other hand, the main concerns about Bill C-53 are that it: is unnecessary and will not increase public safety; denies a second chance to convicted murderers; increases pressure on the corrections system and risk to staff and fellow inmates; includes 'executive release' as an illusory hope and it is unlikely to be used in practice; and infringes the Charter."

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Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons
"This 127-page report details incidents in which correctional staff have deluged prisoners with painful chemical sprays, shocked them with powerful electric stun weapons, and strapped them for days in restraining chairs or beds. Staff have broken prisoners’ jaws, noses, ribs; left them with lacerations requiring stitches, second-degree burns, deep bruises, and damaged internal organs. In some cases, the force used has led to their death."

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Friday, May 8, 2015

New Book Heralds National Shift on Justice Policy
"Mass incarceration. In recent years it’s become clear that the size of America’s prison population is unsustainable – and isn’t needed to protect public safety. In Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice Reform, the country's most prominent public figures and experts join together to propose ideas for change. In these original essays, many authors speak for the first time on the issue. The vast majority agree that reducing our incarcerated population is a priority. Marking a clear political shift on crime and punishment in America, these sentiments are a far cry from politicians racing to be the most punitive in the 1980s and 1990s."

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Friday, May 1, 2015

American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A Torture Program, Report Says
"The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
'The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,' the report’s authors conclude."

View the Report 

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Philip Stenning and Clifford Shearing: Privatisation, Pluralization and the Globalization of Policing
Police, as a formal institution, operate as a part of a three way relationship with the community and the state. In this research paper, Philip Stenning and Clifford Shearing explore how changes in both the community and the state may reshape both the institution of the police and the role of policing. This paper extends the conversation from our previous 2013 publication ‘Public Private Policing’ which was based on a forum held at the AIPM in the same year.

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