• Canada suffers from unimaginative government. Here are some radical ideas

    There is no serious discussion of health-care reform, though Canada is one of the few countries in the world that claims to ban private medicine. We are in fact rationing medical care for many victims of chronic health problems, and have failed to advance any policy option except throwing more tax-paid funds at the question… There has been no attempt to make welfare and poverty-reduction more effective…

  • The Trudeau government should not delay on sentencing reforms

    The Harper government’s crackdown on crime, even as crime continued its steady, decades-long decline, drove up the cost of the criminal justice system by billions of dollars and increased the federal prison population by 25 per cent… They have clogged our prisons, drained the public coffers, unnecessarily criminalized minor offenders and contributed to a national crisis of court delays that profoundly undermines both justice and public safety.

  • In cases of sexual violence, justice can come from outside the courts

    The evidence is clear. Many survivors of sexual violence experience the criminal justice system — with the intense public scrutiny and victim blaming that often come with it — as causing them further trauma…. Given the limitations of the system, survivors should be given access to meaningful alternatives to criminal justice so they can make an informed choice about which process is right for them. One option is “restorative justice,” which is increasingly being offered in sexual violence cases across the country.

  • With new solitary rules, Canada gets smarter on crime

    Prison is a paradox. In a civilized society, the goal of putting people behind bars is to prepare them to be released, and to equip them to live successfully on the outside. That’s what Canada’s federal prison system says its about, and it should go doubly for the provincial prison systems… most people behind bars in Canada are getting out – soon… The use of solitary confinement for anything other than short periods of time doesn’t further that objective. Even relatively short spells in isolation can harm mental health.

  • Senate report offers valuable roadmap to tackling court delays

    “Delaying Justice is Denying Justice” makes 50 recommendations for how to address the crisis… governments would be better served tackling the roots of the crisis… introducing technologies “that facilitate cooperation, permit increased information sharing and improve efficiency.”… that judges be given better training on case management… [and that] incarceration should be a last resort and that less punitive and costly alternatives should be given priority.

  • Senate report on court delays gets at big truths about criminal justice system

    … if a country is smart on community safety, the first order of business is to acknowledge that most offenders don’t belong in prison except for those who commit violent crime — convicted murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc. The committee never explicitly says that prison should be for the few, not the many, but it’s that principle that drives its cry for reform – for better ways to handle impaired driving offences, for more restorative justice, for alternatives to jail.

  • It’s time to fix solitary confinement. Here’s how

    … here is the minimum that pan-Canadian standards must accomplish in order to be meaningful… “Solitary confinement,” or “segregation,” … is an amorphous concept in Canada… With a consistent definition and proper training, prison staff will be able to better track how long inmates are being kept in solitary… Stop putting mentally ill people in solitary… Require independent oversight… Legislation, not guidelines

  • Doctors tortured patients at Ontario mental-health centre, judge rules

    Patients at a maximum-security mental-health facility in Ontario were tortured by medical doctors over a 17-year period in unethical and degrading human experiments, a judge has ruled in a lawsuit. The techniques used on the patients between 1966 and 1983 included solitary confinement, as treatment and as punishment; the administration of hallucinogens and delirium-producing drugs, including LSD; and brainwashing methods developed by the CIA

  • Ontario must limit use of solitary confinement

    … while Ontario’s prison population dropped by 11 per cent over the last 10 years, the number of inmates held in segregation actually went up by 24 per cent. Disturbingly… the share of segregation cells occupied by prisoners with mental health issues increased from 32 per cent to 45 per cent between 2015 and 2016 alone… The aim should be to ensure that prisoners leave jail rehabilitated, not broken.

  • Solitary confinement: Why is Ontario willing to do what Ottawa won’t?

    Prisons are challenging places, and correctional officers prefer to govern with flexible discretion and no external interference. But the issue is that inmate isolation is a practice that engages fundamental human rights and dignity. As Mr. Sapers puts it: “the decision to place a person in segregation results in the most complete deprivation of liberty authorized by law.” In a country like Canada, this is properly the stuff of careful rules and external oversight.