In challenge to Ottawa, judge refuses to impose mandatory sentence

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Feb. 14, 2012
An Ontario Superior Court judge has refused to impose a mandatory three-year sentence on a man caught with a loaded handgun, putting the courts on a collision course with the federal government’s belief in fixed sentences that provide judges with little discretion… Several months ago, in another major challenge in Ontario Superior Court, a similar sentencing provision was upheld in a firearms case, Regina v. Nur. That, combined with the Smickle ruling, could well result in a high-profile appeal that goes all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Landmark Insite decision threatens peace between judges and legislators

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Oct. 11, 2011
“The Insite ruling is a warning to the government that any of its laws or policies which restrict liberty or threaten lives or health are vulnerable to Charter challenge, if compelling evidence calls into question their effectiveness in achieving their stated goals”… the success of Charter litigation is going to hang on being able to quantify the harm that results from a questionable law… “arbitrary” and “grossly disproportionate” – will be invoked in future attacks on laws and government policy, raising the questions: Arbitrary in whose view? And grossly disproportionate to what?

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Posted in Child & Family Policy Context | 1 Comment »

Hospitals, judges at odds over how to handle mentally ill

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Jul. 29, 2011
…lawyers for the mentally ill argue that CAMH frequently does not come through on its promises, meaning that judicial orders are thwarted… “You could solve the bed shortage for people with mental disorders caught up in the justice system for less than it costs to pave a small stretch of unused highway,” said lawyer Frank Addario. “But the government has no interest. The mentally disordered are like untouchables.”

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Posted in Child & Family Delivery System | 1 Comment »

Ontario judge rules mentally ill can be held in jails

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Apr. 18, 2011
An Ontario Superior Court judge has blown a hole in a lower-court uprising over mentally ill offenders who are shunted off to jail cells because of a bed shortage at mental hospitals. Mr. Justice Ian Nordheimer concluded that an Ontario Court judge acted unreasonably when she prevented authorities from placing unfit offenders in jail to await a hospital bed… “If the person is not very well and it is possible for them to wait a few days while we are finding a bed, then that is acceptable and in line with the workings of the rest of the criminal justice system.”

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Prisons grapple with increase in mentally ill female inmates

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Jan. 27, 2011
Across the country, prisons are grappling with the problem of a sharp increase in mentally impaired inmates. But the issue is particularly acute with women. Female offenders are twice as likely as their male counterparts to be diagnosed with a mental-health condition when they’re admitted to prison, according to a recent report by the federal Correctional Investigator. Moreover, the number of women admitted to penitentiaries with mental problems doubled from 1997 to 2009… but the needs of the mentally ill are playing a small role in federal expansion plans.

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To heal and protect: mental illness and the justice system

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Jan. 21, 2011
Behind bars, effective treatment is rarely more than a promise while reality is a severe shortage of psychiatric professionals and a patient population so diverse it can explode if different kinds of inmate mix. The cost to society is immense… untreated prisoners often are released only to get into trouble all over again. Recent figures indicate that nearly 35 per cent of the 13,300 inmates in federal penitentiaries have a mental impairment requiring treatment – triple the estimated total as recently as 2004, and far higher than the incidence of mental illness in the general population.

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Mentally ill offenders swamping prisons

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Nov. 17, 2010
The glut of psychiatric offenders was underlined recently by a string of recent orders from Toronto judges for hospital officials to stop shunting unfit offenders to provincial jails. With hospital and jail officials locked in battle over who will house them, police have been forced to warehouse them in holding cells… Almost 30 per cent of the jail population is comprised of the developmentally handicapped, inmates with psychiatric disorders or serious drug and alcohol problems… In some sense, the criminal law system is the social net of last resort.

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Legal system slammed for failing families

Friday, September 17th, 2010

September 17, 2010
At one of the most stressful periods of their lives, separating couples are driven to the poorhouse by a family law system that fails to deliver workable solutions while their children are often hurt by a system that doesn’t take their opinions into account, a report by the Law Commission of Ontario says. In one of the most in-depth looks at what ails family law in many years, the report indicts the system for draining parents’ bank accounts, ignoring expert advice in favour of simplistic solutions and leaving children out of the process.

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Charter challenge aims to force governments to create public housing

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

May. 26, 2010
… a recent study conducted for the Senate found that, over a 10-year period, the homeless could be housed for half of what it will cost to treat the medical and social problems caused by homelessness. The documents supporting the challenge also include an affidavit from Miloon Kothari, an Indian housing expert who served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing from 2000-2008. “The most striking feature of my mission to Canada was the contrast between the abundance of resources available and the dire living conditions facing the most vulnerable in society,” Mr. Kothari said.

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