• Community justice hubs to offer addiction, mental health support under same roof as courts

    In the present model, “the judge will say, ‘You need a treatment plan and can you just get on the streetcar and go down the street to CAMH?’ And people walk out the door and they are gone.” Instead, at a justice centre, the “accused actually has access to a social worker, someone they can point to, and say, ‘You need to go talk to that person who is sitting at the back of the courtroom and they are going to help you put together a plan to deal with all the issues you are facing.’ ”

  • Ontario Human Rights Tribunal gains steam as alternative route for sexual assault cases

    Victims of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace are winning higher awards than ever before from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, establishing a faster, less formal alternative to the civil courts… They don’t enforce the rules of evidence as strictly. It’s a kinder arena in which to litigate. It’s gentler on the claimants overall… Human-rights tribunals, unlike civil courts, cannot award punitive damages. But they can award damages for loss of dignity and self-worth and emotional suffering, and for lost income.

  • Parliament needs to cut back Canada’s excessive minimum-sentencing laws

    Mandatory minimums elide much-needed context from individual sentencing decisions, constrain judicial independence and, as the courts have said, can amount to cruel and unusual punishment… Perhaps politics is involved in the government’s reluctance to keep its promise. No one wants to risk being seen as soft on crime. But it’s that sort of craven calculation that has brought us to this point. It’s time the government found the courage to prune Canada’s overgrown mandatory minimum sentences.

  • Why the Soulpepper Four skipped the cops and went after Albert Schultz in civil court

    While many a criminal case has floundered trying to overcome the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, civil plaintiffs need only prove their case on a balance of probabilities – more-likely-than-not. Civil cases almost never go to trial, dramatically increasing the prospects that these women will see some sort of negotiated settlement rather than the winner-take-it-all conclusion that is more common in criminal cases.

  • Treatment of women in Canadian prisons a human rights travesty

    “… CSC’s tool to assign women offenders to security levels was designed to assess men, not women. CSC also used this tool to refer women offenders to correctional programs, which is problematic since the tool was not designed for this purpose.” … “being classified as maximum security… limits your access to programs and services… It makes the experience of punishment more onerous and more punitive than it should be.”

  • Why Sexual-Assault Survivors Look Outside the Criminal System for Justice

    For survivors who want monetary compensation—perhaps to help rebuild their lives—another option is criminal-injury compensation, such as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in Ontario… Sometimes, claimants will be required to attend a hearing, but if the claim can be assessed on written evidence alone, there’s no need for one… the CICB is also important because it gives survivors a forum to have their harm heard and acknowledged in an official capacity.

  • Ontario must make bail reform meaningful

    If you own a house, have a job, and have family or friends who can pledge a sizable sum of money and act as supervisors, you are likely to soon be on your way home… immigrants, the mentally ill, racialized groups, and the poor stand the least chance of being released on bail. Despite remaining wholly innocent under the law, they lose their freedom for months or years as the criminal process plays out.

  • What to do about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prisons

    Between 2007 and 2016, while the overall federal prison population increased by less than 5 per cent, the number of Indigenous prisoners rose by 39 per cent… In fact, for the last three decades, there has been an increase every single year in the federal incarceration rates for Indigenous people. While they make up less than 5 per cent of the Canadian population, today they represent 26.4 per cent of all federal inmates.

  • Mentally-ill female inmates housed in male facility: report

    … Mr. Zinger focused on the conditions of confinement in Canada’s federal prisons, which “serve no underlying correctional or rehabilitative purpose.” … women with serious mental-health issues are more likely to be placed in maximum-security units, which are “far from therapeutic,” and noted nearly half the maximum-security population in women’s prisons is Indigenous… While Indigenous people make up less than 5 per cent of the total population, they comprise 26.4 per cent of the total federal inmate population,

  • Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on sex assault cases: ‘No one has the right to a particular verdict’

    … while the system seems focused on the accused, “complainants and victims are also part of the process,” and the integrity of the system demands that they be taken seriously and that their interests be reconciled with the rights of the accused… The justice system can achieve a “fine but crucial balance” between protecting the right of the accused and the dignity of complainants, but “we must not divide ourselves into warring camps shouting at each other…