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.