Calgary had a lot more shoplifting but a lot fewer homicides last year
CBC News | July 22, 2019
A surge in shoplifting in Calgary — part of a trend across the province and even country — helped push up the city’s crime rate last year despite a plunge in some other offences, Statistics Canada says.
Provincewide, the incidence of shoplifting — including both below and above $5,000 — climbed by 23 per cent in a year, from 17,673 total incidents in 2017 to 21,802 in 2018, according to a Statistics Canada calculation released Monday. Called the Crime Severity Index, it measures the volume and severity of police-reported crimes.
‘Long overdue’: Alberta court aims to go paperless
Calgary Herald | July 10, 2019
Alberta’s superior court is taking steps to reduce the reams of paper it consumes.
The Court of Queen’s Bench said in an annual report released Tuesday that it aims to ultimately go “paperless,” but did not provide a date by when that might happen.
“The court recognizes that a paper-based system is antiquated, and fails to serve the public as effectively and efficiently as it should,” the report says.
Cannabis legalization has had little impact on crime, disorder: city police
Calgary Herald | July 2, 2019
Legalizing cannabis hasn’t led to an increase in visible disorder or crime in Calgary, say city police.
The force said their statistics on cannabis enforcement, obtained by Postmedia, and their wider experience in upholding the law suggest little has changed on city streets since recreational use of the drug was legalized last October.
Alberta federal prison opened an overdose prevention site for inmates this week
Global News | June 28, 2019
Alberta’s Drumheller federal prison opened an overdose prevention site for inmates on Monday, Global News has learned. It is the first prison in Canada to do so.
“Participants using the service will be allowed to use self-supplied substances,” a spokesperson for the Correctional Service of Canada told Global News in an email.
Canadians can soon get quick, free pot pardons — but pros expect modest uptake
CBC News | June 22, 2019
Canadians saddled with criminal records for possessing cannabis can soon apply for fast, free pardons, but professionals working in the field aren’t expecting a mad rush at the door.
Bill C-93, which waives the $631 fee and the five-to-10-year waiting period for pardon applications, received royal assent Friday and will soon come into force. The legislation aims to remove barriers to employment, housing, travel and volunteering opportunities for people who were convicted of simple possession before recreational cannabis use was made legal last fall.
Calgary pilot program helps recently released prisoners with hepatitis C
Global News | June 23, 2019
Imagine adjusting to life after serving prison time, then add mental-health struggles, addiction or homelessness.Now, throw in hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause serious liver problems and is several times more prevalent in federal prisons than the general population.
Edmonton lawyers’ group calls for amnesty for non-violent Indigenous offenders
Calgary Herald | June 20, 2019
A local lawyers’ association is calling on governments to reduce the number of Indigenous people in Canada’s prisons and jails, saying Indigenous over-incarceration is worsening despite numerous reports and court rulings aimed at fixing the problem.
Members of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association (CTLA), which represents about 300 lawyers in Edmonton and northern Alberta, held a news conference at the river valley Indigenous Art Park Thursday.
John Howard Society opens new transitional housing facility in Manchester
Calgary Herald | June 13, 2019
After a nearly 15-year process, the Calgary John Howard Society has opened the doors at its new Bedford House location in the Manchester area.
The new facility will provide transitional housing for 32 men. The replacement site has been in the works since the original Bedford House location was expropriated by the City of Calgary in 2005 due to Stampede Park expansion. For the last three years, the organization was renting a temporary space in Forest Lawn until the building could be constructed.
Calgary John Howard Society opens brand new Bedford House
CBC — The Homestretch | June 12, 2019
Men who are transitioning out of Alberta’s justice system, back into society, now have a NEW place to call home. The Calgary John Howard Society opened its brand new Bedford House in Southeast Calgary this afternoon. The residential facility has 32 units and houses round-the-clock staff and support programs to help men navigate the sometimes rocky-road back into the community. Gord Sand is Executive Director of the Calgary John Howard Society.
HIV patient advocacy group fears consumption site at Alberta prison won’t succeed
CBC News | June 12, 2019
An advocacy group has raised doubts over whether an overdose prevention site proposed for a southern Alberta prison will work.
The Correctional Service of Canada says it has received a Health Canada exemption that would permit the site at Drumheller Institution by the end of the month.
Corrections Canada turns to detection equipment to fight contraband drone drops
CBC News | June 9, 2019
Canada’s federal prisons will soon have a new weapon against a threat from above: Drones delivering drugs, cellphones and other dangerous contraband inside prison walls.
The Correctional Service of Canada will be spending $6 million to install radar-based drone detection equipment at six facilities following a spike in drone incidents.
Audit flags risk of ‘food-related health event’ in Canadian prisons
CBC News | June 8, 2019
A new federal audit raises quality and safety concerns regarding Canada’s prison food system, warning of food being wasted, substandard meal portions and the risk of a “food-related health event” behind the wire.
Federal government auditors scrutinized kitchens and food preparation rules in federal institutions that feed more than 14,000 inmates daily. It found that the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is failing to meet Canada Food Guide’s nutrition guidelines, to provide quality assurance oversight and to take consistent steps to avoid contamination.
Senate committee approves changes to solitary confinement bill
The Star | May 30, 2019
A committee of senators has approved changes to a bill that aims to end solitary confinement in Canadian prisons — including a key change to require a judge’s approval to keep an inmate in isolation for more than 48 hours.
A number of human-rights organizations say Bill C-83 offers only a cosmetic rebranding of solitary confinement with no hard time limits on isolation or separation of inmates. The current law has such restrictions.
Alberta’s top court calls on province to end delays in bail-hearing system
CBC News | May 28, 2019
The province must fix the ailing bail-hearing system, says Alberta’s Court of Appeal in a decision that ruled staying charges when a hearing is delayed is going too far.
“It must be emphasized that the primary responsibility for finding a remedy for systemic Charter breaches does not lie on the judiciary,” the Court of Appeal decision says. “It is up to the government to identify and implement the necessary solutions.”
70 per cent of prisoners in Alberta are in remand, the highest in Canada
Edmonton Journal | May 13, 2019
Alberta once again has Canada’s highest remand rate, with 70 per cent of people locked up in the provincial correctional system awaiting trial instead of serving a sentence.
Statistics Canada released fresh data on the country’s correctional systems Thursday, highlighting incarceration rates, Indigenous over-representation and spending on each province’s jail systems.
The report, Adult and Youth Correctional Statistics in Canada 2017/2018, also detailed remand rates in provincial and territorial correctional systems, which house pretrial inmates and people serving sentences shorter than two years.
Enforcement alone won’t fix downtown crime linked to mental health, addiction: police
Calgary Herald | May 9, 2019
Creative solutions are being sought to address rising crime linked to drug use downtown, amid an effort to revitalize the city’s core.
The Calgary Downtown Association held its annual general meeting on Thursday, with executive director Marco De Iaco saying his focus for 2019 will be to “change the narrative” around downtown in the face of “significant headwinds” facing businesses in the core.
Canada’s new solitary confinement bill makes it easier to put inmates in isolation, senator says
Global News | May 5, 2019
A Canadian senator who has spent four decades advocating for the rights of vulnerable people in Canadian prisons says a new bill that purports to end solitary confinement should be scrapped.
Sen. Kim Pate says the Trudeau government’s Bill C-83 only offers a cosmetic rebranding of the practice of separating inmates from others in isolated cells for administrative or disciplinary reasons.
Canada’s Wrongfully Convicted: What are the psychological impacts?
Global News | May 3, 2019
According to research conducted by University of Ottawa criminologist Kathryn Campbell, who studies cases of wrongful conviction, at least 70 people have been exonerated in Canada.
That’s an estimate, however, and there could be many more.
The wrongfully convicted people she has spoken to say being in prison is hard but the mental anguish is exacerbated when you know you’re not meant to be there. Many people who are locked away become obsessed with their case, she says, and with getting out.
Why We Must End Strip Searches In Canada’s Prisons for Women
Vice | May 3, 2019
Imagine being told by someone in a uniform, someone with near complete authority over your every need, to undress in front of them, while another uniform stands nearby; “remove your shirt,” throw it in a pile on the ground, and then “your bra” and then “your pants, now your underwear.” It gets worse: “lift your breasts, open your mouth, turn around, bend over, spread your cheeks, squat, cough.” If you’re menstruating, “remove your tampon.” As a formerly incarcerated woman told Jessica as part of a research study, “I remember there was a time when I was on my period and she told me to squat and cough and I felt so embarrassed because drops of blood came out of me and then they told me to clean it up.”
New Calgary collective brings together experts of all kinds to tackle street-level drug use
CBC News | May 1, 2019
The people dealing with drug addiction on the front lines and on the streets — and its impacts on Calgary communities — met Wednesday morning to talk about how they can work together.
Nearly four dozen law enforcement officials, social workers, researchers, outreach workers, medical professionals, city officials and community leaders attended the informal meeting hosted by Mount Royal University criminologist Dr. Kelly Sundberg.
Canada’s investment in prison system isn’t bringing results, watchdog reports
The Globe and Mail | April 26, 2019
Canada is pouring money into an outdated prison model that provides questionable value for dollars spent, according to an internal analysis by the federal corrections ombudsman.
The 33-page document, obtained by Access to Information legislation, shows that recently announced spending will give Canada approximately one staff member for every inmate, an employee-to-prisoner ratio that would lead the world.
Delayed justice: Ongoing trouble with Alberta bail system
CBC News | April 26, 2019
The Criminal Code in Canada mandates that anyone placed under arrest has a constitutional right to a bail hearing within 24 hours.
In Alberta, it’s become so common to go past the 24-hour time limit that there’s a code word for it: over-hold.
Statistics obtained by CBC News from Alberta Justice reveal that between March 2018 and March 2019 more than 25,000 bail hearings were held in Calgary and Edmonton. During that same time period, there were 678 over-holds in Calgary and 2,555 in Edmonton.
Calgary Police working to include Brain Story for new recruits
Apple Magazine | Winter 2019
Policing is a complex job that requires continuous and specialized training.
That’s why the Calgary Police Service is making the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative’s Brain Story part of basic training for new recruits.
What inmates think candidates should know about life inside Alberta’s jails
Calgary Herald | April 12, 2019
On an average day, there are around 3,800 adults and 100 youth in Alberta correctional facilities — which house pretrial inmates and people serving sentences of less than two years. The system costs $288 million annually to run.
At last count, nearly three out of every four people in the system were remand inmates — people who are being held prior to trial and haven’t yet been convicted. Alberta’s remand rate is the highest in Canada, and would be among the highest in the world if it were its own country.
Inside, the opioid crisis is being felt as acutely as anywhere: 224 people overdosed in Alberta correctional facilities between 2016 and last October alone. Prisoner complaints about being denied access to timely medical care or having medications changed are common.
All parties fail on justice policies, lawyers’ group says
CBC Calgary | April 2, 2019
If the next government of Alberta doesn’t invest in the justice system, the courts will continue to falter with chronic backlogs, says the president of the Canadian Bar Association’s Alberta branch.
“The justice system has not been adequately funded in this province for a long time and it has caught up to us,” said Frank Friesacher, president of CBA Alberta, which represents more than 5,000 lawyers, judges, law teachers and law students across the province.
“‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is the old adage and that’s certainly true of our system today.”
Campaign for expungement of simple cannabis convictions makes tour stop in Calgary
Calgary Herald | March 30, 2019
A cross-country tour aimed at gathering support for the permanent deletion of simple cannabis convictions made a stop in Calgary Saturday.
David Duarte, experiential event manager with B.C. cannabis producer Doja, said a lot of Calgarians came by the Pardon truck to sign the campaign’s petition.
“This tour’s really about driving awareness,” Duarte said. “With cannabis legalization coming and going, people think the conversation about those who have a record has ended, and we’re saying it hasn’t ended, and we’re still here fighting for them.”
Supervised drug consumption sites considered for Canadian prisons
Calgary Herald | March 28, 2019
In a 9-0 ruling Thursday, the high court said people accused of crimes are automatically entitled to periodic reviews of their detention under provisions set out in the Criminal Code.
In clarifying how the provisions should work, the court said Parliament wanted to make certain that people awaiting trial have their cases reviewed by a judge at set points in time to consider whether keeping them in jail is justified.
Supervised drug consumption sites considered for Canadian prisons
CBC Calgary | March 24, 2019
Canada’s prisoner service is considering opening overdose prevention sites as it expands a needle-exchange program that is now offered at a fifth institution for offenders who inject smuggled drugs.
In a statement, the Correctional Service of Canada says it “is in the early stages of exploring overdose prevention sites as another harm-reduction measure option for inmates.”
New RCMP commanding officer a familiar face in Alberta
Calgary Herald | March 24, 2019
Curtis Zablocki was sworn in as the deputy commissioner of RCMP in Alberta at a ceremony at the K Division headquarters in Edmonton last week.
He is taking the post after spending two years as the commanding officer in Saskatchewan. Before that two-year stint Zablocki held a number of posts throughout rural Alberta, including officer in charge of the Wetaskiwin detachment and operations officer of the Battle River district.
RCMP cadet program helps First Nations youth build relationships with police
CBC Calgary | March 23, 2019
A program in Eden Valley is giving kids in the community a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a police officer.
The cadet training program has Eden Valley youth gather in Chief Jacob Bearspaw school gymnasium to participate in activities with Turner Valley Boys and Girls Club.
Turner Valley RCMP started the cadet program five years ago using the same model as the Maskwacis Cadets from Northern Alberta.
Calgary police HR boss hampered by lack of support from top brass, external report finds
CBC Calgary | March 20, 2019
An external consultant’s report lays out the mistakes made by the senior leadership of the Calgary Police Service that led to the sudden and unexpected resignation of its former chief human resources officer, Sheila Ball.
Ball was the first civilian chief human resources officer (CHRO) hired by the service. She started in February, 2018, tasked with leading the service through some highly anticipated reforms, and implement a cultural shift within the organization to address issues of bullying, harassment and gender discrimination.
It’s still too hard to wipe the slate clean in Canada. Change hasn’t come fast enough. A new Senate bill would bring relief to those who need it most.
Policy Options | March 19, 2019
An estimated one in seven Canadians has a criminal record, and while the government’s new bill to expedite suspensions of criminal records for simple cannabis possession convictions is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s far from a full response. Bill C-93, the only gesture the government has made to reform a broken criminal record suspension system, offers precious little to Canadians who have waited too long for meaningful change.
Calgary’s next top cop is Mark Neufeld, president of Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police
CBC Calgary | March 18, 2019
Mark Neufeld, Camrose’s current police chief and the president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, has been named as the next leader of the Calgary Police Service. Neufeld spent 24 years with the Edmonton Police Service and two years as Chief of the Camrose Police Service.
Senate committee confirms major problems in Canadian prisons
John Howard Society of Canada | February 28, 2019
For the past two years, the Senate Committee on Human Rights has been inquiring into “respect for the human rights of federally-sentenced persons in the federal correctional system”. This past week they issued an interim report that is yet another in a long list of reports that find major problems in Canadian prisons.
Prisons not meeting health, end-of-life needs of older inmates, report says
Calgary Herald | February 28, 2019
The federal correctional investigator and the Canadian Human Rights Commission on Thursday called on the Correctional Service of Canada to meet the unique needs of older people behind bars, whose numbers are going up — along with government costs for holding them.
The two bodies said the country needs a national strategy to address the care and needs of people over 50 prison in federal custody.
They said the corrections service should find ways to release older inmates who don’t pose undue risks to public safety into the community, long-term-care facilities, or hospices to outsource their care.
Half of Canada’s prisoners were abused as children, McMaster study suggests
CBC News | February 20, 2019
About half of Canada’s inmates were abused as children, suggests a new study out of McMaster University.
Medical student Claire Bodkin led a team that studied data from 30 years of research into Canadian inmates. Their work was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).
The researchers found 65 per cent of female inmates experienced abuse in general, and half of them were sexually abused.
Alberta’s Police Act scrutinized by justice experts in review
CBC News | February 12, 2019
An outstanding warrant for stealing tampons stopped an Edmonton mother threatened by her partner from calling 911 last weekend.
Mark Cherrington with the Coalition of Justice and Human Rights helped the young woman and her toddlers instead.
He said cases like this one show why the province’s Police Act needs to give officers more discretion around executing warrants when safety is paramount.
Months locked in a tiny box — how solitary confinement can erode mental health
CBC News | February 8, 2019
On any given day, there are about 340 prisoners being held in solitary confinement — otherwise known as administrative segregation — in penitentiaries across the country in conditions critics, including a leading psychologist who has researched the subject, say amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The John Howard Society and the BC Civil Liberties Association in British Columbia and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in Ontario have been pursuing court challenges to the current practice of solitary confinement, charging that it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They’re now awaiting the rulings of appeals courts in their respective jurisdictions on the issue.
Former police chief says wiping out executive or hiring externally won’t solve services’ problems
CBC News | February 4, 2019
Retired Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin said the biggest challenge facing the next chief won’t be the opioid crisis, or other crime and social disorder within the city, but rather ensuring the organization as a whole functions properly, including getting everyone on board with the HR reforms Chaffin began to chip away at during his leadership run.
Especially, he said, knowing there’s a core group of senior members either resistant to change — or at the very least, unenthusiastic about it — and would rather turn back the clocks.
In internal survey, 17 employees at Edmonton prison say they were sexually assaulted by a co-worker
Calgary Herald | February 4, 2019
An internal survey of employees at Edmonton’s maximum security federal prison shines new light on the extent of workplace sexual violence and harassment at the facility.
The survey reveals, for the first time, that 17 current staffers say they have been sexually assaulted by a co-worker — either at the facility or off-site. Only five reported the assault to management, and just three went to police.
The province promised a review of street checks 18 months ago. Where is it?
StarMetro Edmonton | February 3, 2019
Almost 18 months after the Alberta government promised to review the controversial police practice of carding, opposition parties and civil rights and anti-racism advocates are questioning why nothing has been made public.
The practice, also known as street checks, means stopping and documenting someone who is not suspected of a crime. After separate reports in Lethbridge and Edmonton showed police were disproportionately targeting Black and Indigenous residents, the province announced in August 2017 it would launch a six-week consultation on carding.
Province announces funding to tackle sharp spike in crime around Safeworks injection site
Calgary Herald | January 29, 2019
The province has committed $200,000 to create a team tasked with reducing crime while monitoring the city’s only safe drug consumption site.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman made the announcement just hours after a report from police showing the crime rate in the Beltline has skyrocketed near the Safeworks Harm Reduction Program, located inside the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre.
Calgary police to expand mental health consultation line pilot project
Calgary Herald | January 22, 2019
Calgary police are expanding a pilot project aimed at reducing the number of apprehensions under the Mental Health Act.
The Calgary police commission heard Tuesday that a mental-health consultation line offered as a pilot project in District 2 received 51 calls from officers between Oct. 19 and Nov. 30, and resulted in the diversion of 17 “Form 10s,” or apprehensions under Section 12 of the Mental Health Act.
Judge slams Edmonton Remand Centre over lack of TVs in cells but province not budging
Calgary Herald | January 21, 2019
Wayne Wilcox has spent much of the last decade behind bars — most recently, in administrative segregation at the Edmonton Remand Centre.
For 23 hours a day, he is confined to a cell, where he reads, sleeps, works on crossword puzzles and fills out legal paperwork while awaiting trial on his role in a high-speed flight from police.
Opinion: Take it from someone who has been in a gang: tackling the symptoms won’t fix the problem
CBC News | January 14, 2019
At the age of six I was exposed to my first bully. I was punched in the face and thrown to the ground. As a child growing up in the west-side of Toronto, I would come to learn that I lived in a community that bred violence, where tough guys were respected, and where the weak were preyed upon.
By high school the bullying took on a new life, as I was physically and psychologically tortured by boys that were not only bigger, but who had also developed a reputation for hand-to-hand combat and the utilization of weapons.
What drives men to kill? Edmonton Indigenous activist pushing for prison interviews to stop the bloodshed
StarMetro Edmonton | January 13, 2019
One Edmonton Indigenous activist is making the case that solving the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls means understanding why men prey on women in the first place.
On Wednesday, Muriel Stanley Venne, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, made that very point to Correctional Service Canada as part of the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee. She recommended that Corrections Canada place a greater emphasis on interviewing convicted killers who are locked up to get a better sense of their motivations, their psychology, and, ultimately, to learn more about how society can prevent women from being murdered.
As meth use spikes in Calgary, police and addiction experts call for co-ordinated response
StarMetro Calgary | January 10, 2019
Over the last five years, meth use in Calgary has ballooned to the point where it rivals the use of crack cocaine in the 1990s, according to police, which has left local services scrambling to respond to the spread of the addictive drug.
The Calgary Police Service reported on Thursday that it has seen the number of drug seizures involving meth increase sevenfold in the last five years, from 142 in 2013 to 1,043 last year.
Restorative justice in Alberta ‘far tougher than spending time in jail’
Calgary Herald | January 7, 2019
Earlier this year, the Alberta government doubled what it spends each year on restorative justice programs, to $700,000. Last year, 14 community groups that provide restorative justice services received grants from the province.
While it’s still short of what similar jurisdictions spend, proponents are hopeful it will lead to more widespread adoption of restorative justice in Alberta.
Consider making some criminal pardons automatic, MPs recommend
Calgary Herald | January 1, 2019
A panel of MPs wants the federal government to look at making criminal pardons automatic for some offenders who have served their sentences. The House of Commons public safety committee also suggests lowering the $631 fee for a pardon and simplifying the often complex process for applicants.
Advocates call for decriminalization as Alberta fentanyl deaths continue at virtually same, peak rate
Calgary Herald | December 11, 2018
The pace of fentanyl fatalities in Alberta nearly kept to its record rate in the year’s third quarter, with 158 people succumbing to the synthetic opiate. That compares to 167 in the three months previous to that and 170 in the year’s first quarter.