Unequal justice: Aboriginal and black inmates disproportionately fill Ontario jails | Toronto Star

Blacks and aboriginal people are overrepresented in Ontario’s youth and adult jails, with some staggering ratios that mirror those of blacks in American jails.

A Star analysis of Ontario jail data, obtained by University of Toronto doctoral candidate Akwasi Owusu-Bempah through freedom of information requests, shows:

• In Ontario, aboriginal boys aged 12 to 17 make up 2.9 per cent of the young male population. But in Ontario youth facilities they make up nearly 15 per cent of young male admissions. In other words, there are, proportionally, five times more aboriginal boys in the young male jail population than what they represent in the general young male population.

• For black boys, the proportion of jail admissions is four times higher.

via Unequal justice: Aboriginal and black inmates disproportionately fill Ontario jails | Toronto Star.

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Ashley Smith ‘could very easily have been me’ – Canada – CBC News

Tona Mills shudders as she thinks how close she came to killing herself inside a federal prison, all because of her mental illness.

The Nova Scotia woman finds it ominous that her story is almost identical to that of teenager Ashley Smith, who died in an Ontario prison more than five years ago and whose controversial death is now the subject of a major inquest.

Tona Mills has a tattoo on her right arm that means ‘survivor.’ (CBC)

Mills, now 40, has spent more than half her life in custody. It started with break-ins and unruly conduct, but most of her time was on charges she accumulated in prison.

via Ashley Smith ‘could very easily have been me’ – Canada – CBC News.


A Minor case: OED contributions from a prison cell | OxfordWords blog

This weekend will mark a significant date in the annals of the Oxford English Dictionary. 17 February 1872 was the date on which a Dr. William Chester Minor, American army surgeon, shot and killed George Merrett in the early hours of the morning on a gloomy Lambeth street. Not an auspicious date, granted, but Minor went on to become one of the most important volunteer contributors to the OED.

via A Minor case: OED contributions from a prison cell | OxfordWords blog.


From the Outside Looking In: Experiencing Incarceration as a Prisoners Child

A call for study participants What is the study? This study is about children in Northern Ireland and in Canada aged 8-25 who have a parent are in prison or who once had a parent in prison. I would like to know how children and young persons experience visiting their parent in prison, what might be hard about the visit and how they deal with it.Who is doing the study?I, Erin McCuaig am a Ph.D. student from Canada who is carrying out this research under the supervision of Professor Phil Scraton and Doctor Clare Dwyer. You can contact me by telephone at: 613-852-9618 or by email at: emccuaig01@qub.ac.uk Why am I doing the study? Very little is known about how children and young persons feel about visiting their parent in prison. Understanding how you feel is helpful so we can let others know about what it is like to visit a parent in prison and how we can make the lives of prisoners’ children better.What would you have to do? I would be asking you to talk about what it’s like to be a child or young person with a parent in prison or the experience of once having a parent in prison. I would also be asking you how you feel/felt about visiting your parent in prison. This would include some of the things that you might find hard going up to the prison and during the visit, and some of the things that might help you when you visit your parent in prison.Do I have to participate? While it would be great to talk to you, you do not have to participate in the study. If you decide to talk to me, at any time you can stop answering questions and you do not have to answer anything you don’t want to. You can also stop participating in the study if you feel unhappy.How long will it take? I would like to talk to you for about an hour and a half but there will be breaks and any time you want to stop for a break we can.Will what I talk to you about be private? I might write some of the things you say down and I would also like to digitally record what we talk about so I don’t forget anything, but no one apart from myself, Phil and Clare would be allowed to hear the digital recording or read what was written down. Your real name will not be used and the information you share will be used for presentations and articles to tell adults and other young person’s about the lives of children and young persons of prisoners. The only time I would have to tell someone about something you said would be if you told me that you or some else was in danger or might get hurt. If this were to happen I would have to tell another adult but I would talk to you about this first.What will happen to the information I give you? The information that you tell me will be used for presentations and maybe for writing articles. Your name will not be shared and any information that could reveal who you are will be changed to make sure it stays private.Posted by Administrator at 9:32 AM No comments:

via Tracking the Politics of Criminalization and Punishment in Canada.


Predictions: Crime & Punishment in 2013 – Slaw

Another year is in the history books as the creaking structure of the Canadian justice system stumbled along under the weight of crushing new legislation and in the face of chronic underfunding. What does 2013 portend? Read on for some predictions of trends to watch for in the New Year.

1. Prison Overcrowding

About a decade ago prison overcrowding was a major news headline in jurisdictions across the country as an under-funded system struggled to deal with a growing population and a steady increase in the number of incarcerated persons. A multi-faceted approach that included an increase in non-custodial sentences and the construction of new facilities bore fruit as 2000-2005 saw a drop in incarceration. 2005 marked the beginning of a return to a steady rise in prison populations – a trend no doubt hastened by the ‘tough-on-crime’ legislative agenda of the Harper Conservatives. With the recent closure of high-profile federal penitentiaries in Kingston, Ontario and Laval, Quebec, it is questionable whether new so-called “super-jails” will be able to keep up with the influx of prisoners. Vic Toews sparked a concern amongst inmates and prison guards alike when he famously suggested “double bunking” this past summer as the quick-fix to the overcrowding problem. The canaries in the coal mine of overcrowding are in fact the Provincial remand facilities where prisoners serving shorter sentences or awaiting trial are housed. Anecdotally, I am hearing disturbing reports of a return to the bad old days of three and four prisoners to a cell making the suggestion of double bunking seem like a pleasant sleepover opportunity. As new mandatory minimum legislation increasingly applies, these prisoners will be migrating to a Federal penitentiary system ill-equipped to handle the influx.  (Read more: Predictions: Crime & Punishment in 2013 – Slaw.)


January 11, 2013 ~ Prisons for Profit | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: In the United States there are more than two million citizens locked up behind razor wire and prison bars.

MARK MAUER: We lock up our citizens at far greater rates than any other industrialized nation or any other kind of nation in the world.SEVERSON: Mark Mauer is the executive director of The Sentencing Project. He says that when it comes to lock ups, Louisiana is easily the toughest state in the nation.

MAUER: Louisiana has been at the top of the pack and just incarcerating people at rates that are just unimaginable any place else in the world.

SEVERSON: Richard Crane is the former chief counsel to the Louisiana Corrections Department. He says there was a push nationwide in the early 1980s to crack down on crime, and Louisiana took it seriously.

via January 11, 2013 ~ Prisons for Profit | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS.


What It’s Like to Experience New Technology After 25 Years in Jail

When I went to prison, in 1987, Motorola manufactured the large, gray cellphone that I used. People referred to it as “the brick.” It had the capacity to send or receive phone calls, but there wasn’t any text messaging back then.

I also had a pager, but it could only transmit digits, as I recall. I had a personal computer manufactured by IBM with a DOS operating system that I didn’t really understand and 40 megabytes of memory. I was told that was a big deal. I linked the computer to an Epson dot-matrix printer, and I remember the perforated paper fed through on a track system that easily derailed. It was a hassle.

Technology has changed considerably during the 25 years that I served. I read extensively during my term of incarceration, but reading about technology felt a bit like reading about typing. Regardless of how much I read, I wouldn’t grasp the power of technology until I started using it. Forget the power, I don’t even understand the language of technology. For example, I never understood what people meant when they spoke of a “browser.” In fact, I just asked my wife to define a browser, and when she described it as a program that would allow me to access the Internet, I gave her a blank stare.

“But I thought the browser was the little text box on top of the screen, where I type in what I’m looking to find on Google.”

“No honey,” she said. “That’s the URL bar.”

via What It’s Like to Experience New Technology After 25 Years in Jail.