• Fixing solitary isn’t enough. Canada’s prisons need to be reformed top to bottom

    … progress on the issue of reducing solitary confinement is halting at best, in spite of heightened public attention… the broader question of getting Canada’s prison system back on its intended course – that is, rehabilitating convicted criminals and preparing them for their eventual and in most cases inevitable release – has not been addressed. The overuse of solitary confinement is, in fact, a symptom of a larger problem.

  • Liberals unveil bill to end solitary confinement in federal prisons

    Bill C-83 would eliminate two forms of solitary confinement currently used in federal prisons – administrative segregation and disciplinary segregation – and replace them with specialized living units that would provide high-risk inmates at least four hours a day outside their cells and two hours a day of human interaction… judges in both B.C. and Ontario struck down pieces of the law governing solitary confinement in federal prisons.

  • Ford’s aim way off on gun crime strategy

    Consider our experience with mandatory minimum sentences. Gun sentences have tripled since significantly harsher mandatory minimums were introduced for gun crimes in 2008, yet these sentences have had no discernible impact on stemming gun violence… In addition, blanket opposition to bail is morally unfair and legally unconstitutional. It is antithetical to a justice system predicated on treating each distinctive case on its own merits and context.

  • Federal government urged to rein in mandatory minimum sentences

    “Crowns and judges alike… share the concern of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association that mandatory minimum sentences interfere with the ability of the parties to properly assess cases, properly exercise discretion and to resolve matters that should be resolved.” … “The proliferation of mandatory minimum penalties not only disproportionately impacts Indigenous peoples, but also harms us all by making Canada a harsher, more punitive country and by undermining our commitment to equality and the rule of law,”

  • How the underfunding of legal aid is clogging up the justice system

    “It should be obvious to any outside observer that the income thresholds being used by Legal Aid Ontario do not bear any reasonable relationship to what constitutes poverty in this country”… With the heightened scrutiny on delays in the criminal justice system, which can lead to cases being tossed for violating an accused person’s right to be tried within a reasonable time, one area that experts have said warrants further attention is the chronic underfunding of legal aid.

  • Nearly half of youth incarcerated nationwide are Indigenous: Statistics Canada

    Policy decisions, such as mandatory minimum sentences, have had a disproportionate impact on Indigenous communities… [despite] bail reform, restorative justice efforts and culturally appropriate initiatives. The justice system cannot stand alone in curbing the trend of incarcerating Indigenous youth, he suggested. Tackling poverty, unemployment or underemployment, poor housing, addictions and mental illness would make a large difference

  • 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.