Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, November 22, 2010

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Crime Prevention Part Two

Here’s today’s press release from Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who appears to be trying to counter Sam Katz’s announcement from two days ago to hire more cops with a pledge to attack the root causes of crime:
Community resource hubs, local action plans form the first of five crime-reduction planks to empower communities, begin reversing pervasive crime trend: Wasylycia-Leis
Directly addressing neighbourhood needs via community resource hubs, plus local action plans that empower communities to work with the city to prioritize urgent issues round out the first plank of a comprehensive five-point safe neighbourhoods strategy to begin reversing crime trends across the city, Judy Wasylycia Leis announced today.
This strategy is about giving communities the tools they need to replace a culture of crime with a culture of hope, inclusion, empowerment and opportunity, said Wasylycia-Leis.
Its about supporting Winnipeg families, and giving every kid the chance of a bright future free from the lure of gangs. Its about finally moving away from simply treating the symptoms of crime and instead working directly with communities to prevent it.
Wasylycia-Leis said a key priority of the five-point crime-prevention strategy is building community capacity to start to reverse the crime culture that affects families across the city.
The mayoral candidate today rolled out details of the plans first plank of ensuring neighbourhoods have the tools they need to directly tackle the causes of crime.
Under the first plank announced today, City Hall would prioritize expanding service delivery of needed programs at community resource hub sites, beginning with the highest-need areas of the city. The hubs would be tailored to meet local, community-identified needs, from parenting resources, to employment tools, to learning supports, to anti-gang initiatives.
Wasylycia-Leis said existing community-driven service-delivery sites would serve as hubs in neighbourhoods where key community needs have already been identified. Todays announcement was held at the Elmwood Community Resource Centre a community-driven service-delivery centre presently delivering vital programming but in need of far greater resources to adequately meet the needs of the community.
In at-risk communities where the highest-priority needs have not yet been fully identified, facilitators will bring together community leaders and citizens to hold roundtable meetings to develop local action plans to prioritize local need. The action plans would effectively serve as blueprints for City Hall to ensure that the highest-priority needs of each target neighbourhood were given precedence.
No one knows better which strategies are needed to steer neighbourhood kids away from crime and toward brighter futures than community leaders and families themselves, said Wasylycia-Leis.
Communities across our city know which tools they need to start making neighbourhoods safer, but they need support to do it not piecemeal plans that only scratch the surface of the deep-rooted challenges many communities face.
Wasylycia-Leis said enhanced policing is a key part of strengthening community safety but noted that crime continues to rise in Winnipeg despite an increase in police officers. Meaningful, sustained community supports to strike at crimes root causes are long overdue.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis today committed to a comprehensive, five-point strategy to tackle the causes of crime to begin reversing the upward crime trend that affects neighbourhoods across the city. She today rolled out key details of the plans first plank of ensuring communities have the tools they need to address deep-rooted causes of crime, with the goal of working with neighbourhoods to build engaged, safe, supported communities.
Under this first plank, community resource hub sites would be identified and given the tools they need to better meet the social needs of the community, as identified by the community itself. Depending on the neighbourhood, hubs might deliver employment information, youth supports, parenting resources, or other services vitally needed in the community.
The city would work with hubs to better integrate existing resources to avoid duplication of services, expand programs that are working well, and fill in identified service gaps. In many communities, gaps in the spectrum of services have already been clearly identified by the community, but resources to fill the gaps arent available.
In at-risk neighbourhoods where the communitys highest needs have not yet been fully identified, city facilitators would work with community leaders and families to hold open roundtables to prioritize needs and summarize them in local action plans. These plans would effectively serve as blueprints to ensure that the highest needs as identified by the community were reflected at City Hall.
Wasylycia-Leis earlier announced an initial piece of her first plank of engaging communities is an expansion of the successful PowerLine program and the implementation of the City Watch program proven successful in B.C.

It’s strike two for mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis on justice issues after another bogus announcement on how to tackle Winnipeg’s burgeoning gang and violent crime problem.
One more strike and she’s out — out of the mayoral race, that is.
Wasylycia-Leis told us last month during her first announcement on justice she wants to encourage more people and city workers to report crime through an anonymous phone line.
She talked about wanting to “empower” people to report crime. That went over like a pro-free enterprise speech at an NDP convention. Strike one.
On Thursday, she gave us a bunch of platitudes about wanting to set up “hubs” around the city to provide more resources to communities to help prevent crime and to create a comprehensive crime-prevention strategy that allows neighbourhoods to identify local needs and to formulate action plans in a more holistic and grassroots way and to ... yeah, that’s right, pure gibberish.
A bunch of meaningless rhetoric that explains why increasing numbers of people are tuning out of politics and election campaigns altogether.
Wasylycia-Leis didn’t have one concrete proposal in her Thursday anti-crime “plank,” other than to give $110,000 to an Elmwood “hub,” or resource centre.
She gave us the usual hyperbole about how we have to stop looking solely at policing to fight crime and focus instead on crime-prevention through more parenting resources, amateur sport opportunities and employment tools, as if we don’t do that already.
Winnipeg has hundreds, probably thousands, of programs, sporting opportunities, employment resources, parenting supports, community centres, local health services, family centres — you name it — funded by all levels of government and non-government, not-for-profits to provide services in all of those areas.
To suggest society doesn’t already work in those capacities is an insult to the thousands of volunteers and paid staff who do.
That was strike two.
Strike three and Judy will be sent packing to the bullpen.
Because crime is emerging as the top issue in this campaign. And even though municipal politicians are limited in their ability to fight crime in a meaningful way, any candidate who wants to make a strong impression on voters is going to have to come up with something more creative than creating “hubs” around the city.
I’m all for finding new and creative ways of trying to get to the root of crime.
It’s a very complicated subject. We have dysfunctional households all over the city and in rural and northern Manitoba producing broken people, in some cases with severe — and completely avoidable — mental health problems like fetal alcohol syndrome.
We have parents who are incapable or disinterested in raising their children properly. We have AWOL parents. We have parents who play the race card and the “poor me” card instead of picking themselves up off the mat and breaking through the trap they feel they’re in.
It’s going to take a lot more than beefing up resources at the local community centre to solve those problems.
Let’s face it, in many cases resources already exist to help families in need. But people have to want to help themselves.
That doesn’t mean we don’t need new and innovative ideas to help create more resources and opportunities for families in need.
But I didn’t hear any from Wasylycia-Leis.
All I heard was a bunch of white noise.
Next pitch is a change-up, Judy. Better keep your eye on the ball.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis agrees Winnipeg needs more cops on the street, but said they won’t do much good if we don’t nip young criminals in the bud before they bloom.
“If we ignore the needs of children and families, we will never get a handle on this crime problem,” Wasylycia-Leis said during a campaign announcement Thursday.
“Do we need more police? Absolutely. I’ve said that from day one ... (but) all the police in the world will not reverse the crime stats unless we have a way to get at the causes of crime.”
The mayoral candidate proposed Thursday what she believes is a way to tackle those root causes.
The city needs to increase funding to “community resource hubs” in the 10 highest-crime areas of Winnipeg, she said, so those centres can better offer everything from parenting supports to employment information to anti-gang initiatives — all of which she said can help reduce crime by addressing its root causes.
Wasylycia-Leis said she would work with each hub — like the Elmwood Community Resource Centre, which served as the backdrop for the announcement — to determine specific needs and see what they think would work best for their neighbourhood.
“It cannot be a top-down approach,” she said. “There isn’t one size that fits all.”
Wasylycia-Leis estimated between $1 million and $1.5 million could help the first 10 community hubs get what they need. She said the city doesn’t have much money dedicated for this type of idea, and what does exist is “ad hoc and piecemeal.”
Mayor Sam Katz was unavailable Thursday due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday, but his campaign manager Marni Larkin said the city already has a program in place similar to what Wasylycia-Leis is suggesting.
“She keeps announcing things that are already in place,” Larkin said. “The things she’s talking about today city council did in 2008 under the current mayor. They’re continuing to offer those programs. They’re already in existence.”

WINNIPEG - Mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis wants to earmark about $1 million to fund "community hubs" that offer recreation, parenting classes and other programs to inner-city neighbourhoods.
It’s the first of five planks in her crime-fighting agenda, the rest of which will be announced as the campaign wears on.
Wasylycia-Leis made the announcement over the noon-hour at the Elmwood Community Resource Centre, which needs about $110,000 for a bigger office that can offer more programs and stay open later to help keep kids off the streets.
Wasylycia-Leis said the city provides very minimal funding for inner-city programming.

As part of a campaign announcement, mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis unveiled a plan to create community resource hubs to help prevent crime in Winnipeg.
The hubs would offer things such as parenting classes and recreation programs in areas of Winnipeg where crime rates are high.
"We need police officers, yes, for safety purposes and to work with neighbourhood associations, but if we don't have programs that stop crime in the first place, how are we ever going to pay for this and keep on top of it in the long run," asked Wasylycia-Leis. She said Winnipeg needs to do more to meet the needs of children and families.
If elected, she said she would set aside $1 million to create the hubs. Wasylycia-Leis previously announced a proposal to expand a community-based hotline to respond to crime.
Wasylycia-Leis said she will be announcing in upcoming weeks more details of her plan for tackling crime in Winnipeg. 

Winnipeg mayoralty hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis is promising a $1-million boost to community resources as part of her crime-prevention platform.
The former NDP MP said Thursday the money would be spent on community services in areas of the city with the greatest need for youth-related programming.
The approach is in marked contrast to that of incumbent Sam Katz, who said Tuesday he would hire 58 new police officers as a crime-fighting measure.
However, Wasylycia-Leis said putting more police on the street isn't a long-term solution.
"If we don't have a crime prevention strategy, we're going to have to put more police in place," she said.
Wasylycia-Leis made the announcement at the Elmwood Community Resource Centre.
People living in the Elmwood area said they've lived with high crime rates for years and agreed with Wasylycia-Leis's approach. .
"Education is the main thing," said Brian Whidden. "If people are idle, if they're not educated, if they're not working, then they get into trouble," he said.
Wasylycia-Leis said more details about her crime-cutting strategy would be coming over the next few weeks.
In August she promised to expand an anonymous crime-reporting phone line similar to one in operation in Winnipeg's Point Douglas neighbourhood.
Winnipeggers head to the polls on Oct. 27.

Judy concepts are right on. It's a proven fact that education is the way to long term rehabilitation. If we can show them how to get out of the ghetto, get into a real job and get hold of their own reality, you've got a chance to change the direction a youth gone wrong is headed.
Judy has her priorities right. You catch them prior to the crimes being committed. Prior to the gangs being joined and by introducing a proactive life stye you will significantly decrease a criminal life stye.
Judy has an educated view of how to solve criminal behaviour. You don't just throw 58 new police officers at them and hope for the best.

I think the Conservatives, including you Tom, greatly lack information, understanding and knowledge about the workings, effectiveness and issues of our justice system. They completely ignore the criminological research, proving that prisons and tougher laws are NOT effective in preventing and reducing crime. You can't ignore that fact. Inmates with longer sentences are more likely to re-offend when released. How does that improve community safety? Please do tell b/c II am not understanding. It have been proven to be more successful and cost effective to focus on preventing the root causes of crime through community programming, services, resources, etc. Proactive and preventive crime strategies have a long term effect on community safety.

What is being discussed now is targeting programs as anti-gang initiatives. Certainly we have lots of sports and activities but none of them are focused on specifically mentoring at-risk youth away from gangs and criminal activities. I should also mention that the best resources now go to better neighbourhoods and address community entertainment demands, not social improvement. I would think that if you truly wanted to reduce crime, you would be encouraging better alternatives. If it's the number of programs that bother you perhaps Lindenwoods can put off their gym expansion or we can eliminate some hockey teams in Grant Park etc. in order to save a few kids from joining gangs.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis's Crime Prevention Plan Part One

Community volunteers and city workers would help the Winnipeg Police Service prevent crime if Judy Wasylycia-Leis is elected mayor this fall.
The former NDP MP for Winnipeg North, who's vying to unseat Sam Katz this fall, pledged Monday to create two new crime-fighting programs within six days of being elected mayor.
The first program, PowerLine, is based on a three-year-old North Point Douglas effort that has reduced the crack cocaine trade and gang presence in the inner-city neighbourhood.
Wasylycia-Leis would like to expand the program to other Winnipeg neighbourhoods by appointing volunteer co-ordinators who would field calls about crime and vandalism and then co-ordinate a response with police and Manitoba Justice officials.
"The point of the program is the less bureaucratic it is, the more success it'll have," she told reporters outside Norquay Community Centre in Point Douglas, flanked by community activist Sel Burrows. "One size does not fit all. We're not going to find a Sel Burrows in every community."
Volunteer co-ordinators would not be subject to police background checks, she said. Burrows dismissed concerns that could enable organized crime to infiltrate the program.
"One of the things we've noticed is the reverse has happened. We have infiltrated organized crime," he said, suggesting criminals are not intelligent.
The second proposed program, City Watch, would see members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 -- the city's largest union -- aid police by reporting crimes.
CUPE members are willing to do this, provided they receive proper training, said local president Mike Davidson, who also stood alongside Wasylycia-Leis. Similar programs are in place in six British Columbia municipalities, she said.
Wasylycia-Leis also said the Winnipeg Police Association supports the initiative. WPA vice-president Marc Pellerin declined to comment.
The cost of both PowerLine and City Watch would be minimal, said Wasylycia-Leis, though she has yet to cost them out precisely. She claimed Mayor Sam Katz has done little to prevent crime during six years in office.
"Like so many Winnipeggers, I am sick and tired of hearing we are the No. 1 violent-crime capital of Canada," she said.
Katz, however, said he launched a program similar to City Watch in 2004, when 70 waste-management workers were recruited to monitor crime. Winnipeg Transit employees have also been trained to report crime, he said.
"The key thing is, we would hope that what would prevail is common sense, in that all employees and all citizens would report crimes when they see them," Katz said.
The mayor repeated his assertion Wasylycia-Leis stymied federal Conservative efforts to bolster justice legislation while in Ottawa -- something the former MP has denied -- and said he has been instrumental in hiring 155 more police officers, creating a swat team, Operation Clean Sweep, CrimeStat and getting a police a helicopter off the ground.
"Do you really believe Wasylycia-Leis will be tougher on crime than I am?" he asked.
But Wasylycia-Leis said Winnipeg needs even more police officers.

WINNIPEG--Mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis has pledged to prevent crime in Winnipeg by enlisting city workers and neighbourhood volunteers.
The former NDP MP for Winnipeg North, who's vying to unseat Sam Katz this fall, told reporters this morning she would launch two new crime-fighting programs within days of being elected mayor.
The first, PowerLine, would see one volunteer in each Winnipeg neighbourhood field calls about crime and vandalism and then co-ordinate with police and Manitoba Justice officials.
The second, City Watch, would see city workers aid police by reporting crimes.
Standing in a North Point Douglas Park, flanked by community activist Sel Burrows and Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 president Mike Davidson, Wasylycia-Leis said both programs would deter crime in Winnipeg.
Davidson said CUPE members would be willing to help, but need special training to aid police.
Burrows said neighbourhood volunteers can take on gangs with the help of united communities.
Wasylycia-Leis said the cost of both programs would be minimal, but had not costed them out precisely.
The volunteer co-ordinators would not be subject to police background checks, she said. She dismissed concerns that PowerLine could be infiltrated by organized crime.
Wasylycia-Leis also said Winnipeg needs more police officers but would not say whether she would raise property taxes to pay for additional salaries.

Winnipeg mayoralty hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis announced two anti-crime measures Monday that she believes will curb perceptions the city is a hotbed for criminals.
In what is the former NDP MP's first substantive policy announcement since she launched her campaign earlier this summer, Wasylycia-Leis said the city has a culture of crime that must be broken.
"Like so many Winnipeggers I am sick and tired of being told how we are the number one violent crime capital of Canada," Wasylycia-Leis said. "We can start to turn around this idea of a crime culture in Winnipeg."
Wasylycia-Leis proposed two specific programs during the morning announcement that she said would deter crime and increase neighbourhood safety.
The first is the creation of an initiative for city employees to start reporting more crimes when they see them.
'Do you really believe that Ms. Wasylycia-Leis would be tougher on crime than yours truly?'—Mayor Sam Katz
The second would be the establishing of a citywide anonymous tip line for residents to report crime to police.
She also criticized her main opponent, incumbent Mayor Sam Katz, saying he hasn't done enough to stamp out crime.
"The current administration at City Hall hasn't come forward with a detailed crime-prevention strategy after six full years in office, and that needs to change," she said in a statement.
Katz responded by detailing a number of his own programs to combat crime, including the Winnipeg police Street Crime unit, and the soon-to-be-airborne police helicopter.
"Do you really believe that Ms. Wasylycia-Leis would be tougher on crime than yours truly?," he asked.
Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 27.

Mayor Sam Katz is promising to hire another 58 police officers in an effort to end the city's reputation as one of the most crime-plagued centres in Canada. He acknowledged that police alone cannot make a community safer, but the emphasis in his first campaign announcement was clearly about boosting police numbers to make the city safer.
This stands in stark contrast to his main rival, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who has promised to take steps to empower community groups to defend their neighbourhoods. Ms. Wasylycia-Leis is hoping that the success experienced in Point Douglas, which has seen a drop in crime and an increase in comfort levels, can be replicated elsewhere.
Her overall platform on crime, however, was vague and she did not address the question of police numbers. The mayor, on the other hand, seems to be putting too much confidence in the ability of police forces to solve complex problems.
With nearly 1,400 officers, the city already is one of the most policed cities in Canada -- our exact ranking is a source of endless debate -- but the mayor thinks we still don't have enough.
Everyone agrees that police are vital in deterring crime and arresting criminals -- otherwise we wouldn't need them -- but what is the right number? Would another 5,000 officers make the city five times safer, or is there a law of diminishing returns with respect to law enforcement?
A few years ago, the mayor actually promised to answer the question. He was going to hold the police service accountable to ensure taxpayers were getting value for their money and that "crime-reduction targets are being met."
Unfortunately, as the mayor has since learned, it's not that easy. Sometimes crime rises or falls for reasons that have little to do with the ratio of police to citizens.
Even so-called objective criteria for measuring performance aren't necessarily neutral. The Winnipeg Police Service, for example, has one of the lowest clearance rates in Canada. Our statistics for clearing crimes, or making arrests, are poorer than both Regina and Saskatoon, high crime cities with fewer officers per capita than Winnipeg.
But maybe Winnipeg is different. Violent street crime and mayhem, for example -- the kind we see a lot of in the city -- can result in serious offences that are difficult to clear because there are endless possible suspects, or none at all.
The argument could be made that Winnipeg needs more police officers because of our large inner city, high rates of poverty and sprawling suburbs, combined with priorities such as downtown renewal and unique social issues, such as homelessness, public drunkenness and so on.
Unfortunately, Mr. Katz offered no insight as to why he wants to hire 58 new officers, as opposed to 28 or 68, at a cost of $4 million, which sounds a little on the light side, given that a rule of thumb is that it costs $100,000 for every new police officer, once benefits, equipment and overtime are factored. Nor did he promise accountability and benchmarks for determining success.
As the campaign moves ahead, both candidates need to expand on their policies for dealing with crime, and on how they would measure success. A serious discussion, as opposed to sloganeering, might help identify where the efforts should be made.

Another question is how is he going to pay for this? He can promise the world but it means nothing if he can't pay for it.

More police and tougher laws are reactionary responses to crime. What we need, is more proactive and preventative approaches and strategies. Crime prevention and intervention are far more successful and more cost effective ways of dealing with crime. Police officers respond to crime, not prevent it. If more police officers are hired, they need to be more involved in community policing and crime prevention initiatives.  We need more community recreation programs for youth, such as after school programs and Lighthouses and also more parenting, employment, counselling and education programs. Punishment does not prevent or reduce crime. Crime prevention is always the most effective and can take many forms, including better lighting on streets, windows and patios facing the streets, block parents, neighbourhood watch, community programs, youth training and opportunities, addictions resources, etc. We need to provide alternative options to people who might otherwise be influenced into a lifestyle of crime. Prisons are the schools of crime. They harden criminals as each individual is surrounded by antisocial criminal peers. Inmates come to adopt the subscribe to the inmate subculture. Judy is SMART, not TOUGH on crime. She acknowledges the research.  

The justice system isn't going to be fixed anytime soon so if we want to make improvements we need to look at ways to do it within the existing system. If so much of our officers' time is being taken up due to flaws in the system that they can't be out on the street, then you don't have enough people on the streets with current staffing levels. That's either fixed by changing the system, or hiring more people. It's not realistic to believe we can change the justice system quickly enough to get tangable results anytime soon. Would be nice, but from a practical perspective it's not going to happen for a very long time. So we either do what we can within the system to try and improve things, or we just pass the buck, blame the system, and wait for it to be fixed, which may never happen. In concept I agree with what you're saying, but I don't see it as a practical solution. Maybe a long-term goal but not something we can bank on.

Not sure how effective Judy's ideas will be here. They imply a trend to more community involvement, which I think is important. On their own they probably won't do much, if anything, so it depends on what other programs go along with them. 

We don't need more cops. We've tried that and things have gotten worse. We need to keep kids out of trouble, especially gang-related trouble, in the first place. We need communities to pull together. We need to work on solving the poverty problem. We need to reform our drug laws to take the profitability out of selling drugs. We need better education programs...not just traditional job training, but training in the arts and volunteerism.

Katz has no real thoughts on any of this. Instead he has opted for a meaningless sound bite. He's a poor mayor, a poor leader, and so out of touch with the reality of living in this city that it's frightening. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gang members plead guilty to kidnapping

Two members of Winnipeg street gang have admitted to a gunpoint attack against the mother of one of their criminal colleagues.
Jammal Dillinger Jacob and Michael Brandon Williams pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated assault. The pair, who have ties to the Mad Cowz, will be sentenced later this year.
The 40-year-old victim immigrated from South Africa and has described her ordeal as comparable to the violence she witnessed in refugee camps prior to coming to Canada. The single mother of four suffered extensive physical and emotional injuries and was placed in the federal witness-protection program. She moved out of the province, court was told.
Jacob, Williams and another gang member had known the victim for years because of their affiliation with her son. The trio decided to try to get some money out of the woman after they crossed paths with her on the street while she was looking for her son in 2007.
They took the woman to a home on the belief her son would be there. Then, they pulled out guns and held them to her head. The gang members told the woman she hadn't "thanked them" for looking after her boy when he was in prison by ensuring he wouldn't be attacked by other inmates.
They initially demanded $10,000, then changed it to $40,000 when she said she could only offer a few hundred dollars. The men beat her with the butt ends of their guns, fracturing her left sinus cavity. They also hit her with a set of weights and a pipe, poked her in the eye socket and said she and her family would be killed.
The woman convinced the men to drive her to the restaurant where she worked so she could get some cash. She ran for help as soon as she was let out of the car.
Cory Amyotte, 23, pleaded guilty earlier this summer to aggravated assault and extortion and was sentenced to four years in prison. Amyotte and Jacob have previously made headlines for refusing to testify in a high-profile murder trial.
Phil Haiart died in October 2005 after getting caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout in the West End. Jeffrey Cansanay was convicted earlier this year of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Cory Spence was convicted of the same charge as a youth, but raised to adult court and given life in prison.
Amyotte and another gang member, Gharib Abdullah, were the targets of the bullets that hit Haiart. Cansanay previously went on trial in 2007 but was cleared by a judge who refused to allow videotaped police statements from Amyotte and Abdullah to be played in court when they both remained silent in the witness box. The Manitoba Court of Appeal later overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge had erred.
Abdullah and Amyotte were cited for contempt of court and received precedent-setting prison terms -- four years for Amyotte, three-and-a-half for Abdullah. Both men testified when Cansanay's second trial began this spring. Abdullah told jurors he saw Cansanay open fire on him and Amyotte. Amyotte said he was in hiding at the time and didn't see anything.
Jacob was sentenced in 2008 to two years in prison for refusing to testify at Spence's trial. He was originally given three years behind bars for contempt of court but had it reduced on appeal to two years.

These gang members should not be given overly harsh sentences. Gangs often flourish in prisons and ties are often strengthened with antisocial criminal peers. Gang members readily subscribe to the prison subculture consisting of pro criminal attitudes, values and behaviours. They are often released with little to no rehabilitation, no skills, education, or assistance/support in the community and are therefore, much more likely to resort back to crime. I feel sorry for gang members because they often join due to a lack of belonging and sense of affection, respect and identity within their biological families and therefore, they fulfill these needs in other ways, for example, by joining gangs. Family conflict, neglect, abuse, dysfunction, etc. often underlies the reasons why individuals join gangs. Those issues need to be addressed effectively. I would sentence these gang members to 2 years in prison followed by community support, intensive supervision, family counseling, and community programming aimed at gang desistance. 

Appeal Court reduces prison sentence for sex offender

Manitoba’s highest court has slashed a prison sentence given to a high-risk sex offender who randomly stalked and molested a woman in a Winnipeg shopping mall.
Corey Wright, 39, was originally sentenced to four years behind bars but learned Wednesday the Court of Appeal had reduced it to three years.
Justice Richard Chartier said the initial penalty given to Wright "falls outside an acceptable range of sentences under similar circumstances, making it demonstrably unfit." Chartier noted the trial judge found the 2008 incident didn’t meet the legal definition of a "major sexual assault" - but then imposed a sentence as if it was.
Wright was found guilty of sexual assault for following a young woman around a shopping mall for 30 minutes, then running up behind her, grabbing her waist and forcing his hand between her legs. She screamed and ran away.
"The facts are very disconcerting," aid Chartier. "Although the victim was not physically injured from the attack, she suffered emotional and psychological harm."
Police were able to quickly identity and arrest Wright because the attack was caught on surveillance video, court was told.
Wright has a lengthy criminal history with more than 40 prior convictions, including five for "sexually-motivated" offences. Three involved exposing himself to women, one was for making indecent phone calls and the other was for criminal harassment against a female victim who he also stalked and exposed himself to in a shopping mall.
"What is clear from the latest incident...is that there is a noticeable and troublesome escalation in the level of violence used by the accused," said Chartier. "Furthermore, at the time of sentencing, the accused had done little to address his offending behaviour."
The Crown had originally sought a five-year sentence for Wright, while his lawyer asked for a 26-month penalty.
Wright had served pre-trial custody which was given-double time credit of 23 months. Chartier has now ordered him to spend another 13 months behind bars, to be followed by two years of supervised probation. His conditions include mandatory sex offender counselling and having no contact with the victim.

MANITOBA'S highest court has slashed a prison sentence given to a high-risk sex offender who randomly stalked and molested a woman in a Winnipeg shopping mall.
Corey Wright, 39, was originally sentenced to four years behind bars but learned Wednesday the Court of Appeal had reduced it to three years.
Justice Richard Chartier said the initial penalty given to Wright "falls outside an acceptable range of sentences under similar circumstances, making it demonstrably unfit." Chartier noted the trial judge found the 2008 incident didn't meet the legal definition of a "major sexual assault" -- but then imposed a sentence as if it was.
Wright was found guilty of sexual assault for following a young woman around a shopping mall for 30 minutes, then running up behind her, grabbing her waist and forcing his hand between her legs. She screamed and ran away.
"The facts are very disconcerting," said Chartier. "Although the victim was not physically injured from the attack, she suffered emotional and psychological harm."
Police were able to quickly identity and arrest Wright because the attack was caught on surveillance video, court was told.
Wright has a lengthy criminal history with more than 40 prior convictions, including five for "sexually motivated" offences. Three involved exposing himself to women, one was for making indecent phone calls and the other was for criminal harassment against a female victim who he also stalked and exposed himself to in a shopping mall.
"What is clear from the latest incident...is that there is a noticeable and troublesome escalation in the level of violence used by the accused," said Chartier. "Furthermore, at the time of sentencing, the accused had done little to address his offending behaviour."
The Crown had originally sought a five-year sentence for Wright, while his lawyer asked for a 26-month penalty.
Wright had served pre-trial custody which was given-double time credit of 23 months. Chartier has now ordered him to spend another 13 months behind bars, to be followed by two years of supervised probation. His conditions include mandatory sex offender counselling and having no contact with the victim.

The portion of the public who advocates for "tougher" sentences simply lack understanding, knowledge and information regarding our complex justice system and its mechanisms. Anyone who clearly understands our justice system and studies crime, such as criminologists and professors, usually do not advocate for tougher sentences, because the research has proven it to be ineffective and expensive at crime reduction and prevention. Because the majority of public receive information about crime and justice solely from the media (which is biased and sensationalizes violent and rare crimes), their attitudes about criminality are subsequently biased and not well developed. They are not well informed about the many issues surrounding the decisions made.  

As a criminal justice student, it frustrates and concerns me to see so many members of the public completely disregarding human rights inherent to all Canadians (including prisoners) and advocating for tougher sentences which have been proven in research time and time again, to have little, if any, significant impact on crime rates. We need to stop ignoring the research, stop reactionary responses to crime and start implementing proactive and preventative policies instead. That is the only way crime will be reduced and/or prevented. I wish everybody understood this or at least acknowledged the research.. but unfortunately, some individuals are too self-centered/ignorant to acknowledge that they are wrong. 

Seriously, how are longer prison sentences helpful to long term public safety and offender rehabilitation? They aren't. Longer sentences have been proven to increase an offender's chances of re-offending and decrease their chances of successful reintegration, which is extremely important for improving public safety. We must facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration in all cases, so offenders can be returned to society as productive and law abiding citizens.

How are longer prison sentences helpful to long term public safety and offender rehabilitation and reintegration? They are ineffective at all of these objectives. Longer sentences have been proven to increase an offender's chances of re-offending and decrease their likelihood of successful reintegration. How does that improve public safety? If an offender is not rehabilitated, provided with little support, assistance and programming upon release/guidance, they are more likely to re-offend, therefore, creating more dangerous communities. We have to remember that virtually all offenders WILL eventually be released back into our communities and be living among us. They will live in our cities and towns, be our coworkers, attend college or university with us or with our children and be our neighbours. Therefore, we MUST facilitate reintegration by providing offenders with the skills necessary to be productive members of society. We must always remember to do what is in society's best interests, and that does not mean retribution, revenge or excessive punishment.

An inmate serving a lengthy sentence in prison once said, "When I get out of here in 25 years, do you want to be my neighbour?" 

I would have preferred a sentence of 2 years in prison for this sex offender. He should have to participate in sex offender counselling and programming in prison and also relapse prevention/maintenance programs once released into the community. Sex offenders suffer from cognitive distortions, and have often been abused or neglected themselves, therefore, they need effective psychological treatment. This man would be considered a "rapist" in the three categories of sex offenders and therefore, requires general crime programming and moderate intensity sex offender programming.   

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Medical response in prisons identified as still a problem

A review of nine deaths that occurred in federal custody between April 2008 and April 2010 shows recurring problems in responding to medical emergencies, as well as problems with accountability and compliance.
The fourth and final assessment of the Correctional Service of Canada's progress in preventing deaths in custody was released Wednesday in Ottawa.
While the correctional service has taken some concrete steps toward preventing deaths in federal facilities, "measurable progress is not yet where it should be," the review's author, Howard Sapers, who is the Correctional Investigator of Canada, said in a statement.
"The preservation of life is an integral part of the mandate of the correctional service. I expect this principle to be embedded in policy, reflected in the culture of the organization and orient its day-to-day interactions with offenders."
The Correctional Investigator is an independent ombudsman for federal offenders.
The nine cases reviewed in the final assessment found problems in the following areas:
  • Slow response to medical emergencies.
  • Lack of sharing of information between clinical and front-line staff.
  • Lack of monitoring of suicide pre-indicators.
  • Quality and frequency of security patrols.
  • Management of mentally ill offenders.
  • Quality of internal investigative reports and processes.
One of Saper's key recommendations is that the CSC create a senior management position responsible for promoting and monitoring safe custody practices
Among his other recommendations:
  • Prohibit the practice of placing mentally ill offenders, or those at risk of suicide or serious self-injury, in prolonged segregation.
  • Provide round-the-clock health-care coverage at all maximum, medium and multi-level institutions.
  • Introduce audits to ensure the quality of security patrols.
  • Training front-line staff on how to manage offenders at risk of self-injury or to ensure proper monitoring, crisis response and prevention protocols are in place.
The quarterly assessment process was sparked by the case of Ashley Smith, who had history of harming herself and died in her Kitchener, Ont., prison cell In October 2007 after a prolonged period of segregation.
Smith had spent five years in the youth justice system in New Brunswick before being transferred to the federal facility in October 2006, at age 18.
Since Smith's death, more than 130 offenders have died in federal custody.

I completely agree with the recommendations, especially not imprisoning mentally ill individuals. They cannot receive proper treatment and services in prison and there conditions are likely to worsen in prisons, due to the negative effects (psychological). They should either be treated in a community setting or in a mental health care facility. There needs to be improved medical services in prisons also. Prisoners are human beings and therefore, deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and care. This means that they are entitled to adequate medical and mental health care. Anything less is inhumane and unacceptable. The government is obligated to provide for their basic health care needs. Healthcare is universal, not discriminating. The majority of criminals are released back into the community after completing their sentences. We need to do what is in society's best interests regarding treatment and services, because eventually, most of these individuals will be living in our communities. They need to be reintegrated properly and successfully and be provided with the skills and services and opportunities to do so. We need to be civilized in the manner in which we treat the mentally ill. Healthcare is a basic right to which all Canadians should be afforded. Prisons are meant to be for rehabilitation and protection, not further punishment and retribution. Many prisoners can be rehabilitated so that they are not a threat to themselves or others. Counselling and therapy around sexual, physical and emotional abuse would rehabilitate many. Education training and job upgrading would ensure inmates returning to soicety would have the tools necessary to become self sufficient and productive members of society. This would cost a lot less than building more prisons. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Facebook revenge plot nets prison sentence. Completely inappropriate.

A Winnipeg man is heading to jail for posting nude photos of his 16-year-old former girlfriend on Facebook.
The 18-year-old – who can’t be named to protect the identity of the victim – pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography and criminal harassment. He was sentenced on Friday to six months behind bars as part of a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
Crown attorney Terry McComb told court the girl took the pictures of herself and emailed them to the accused when she was just 15. The pair had been in a relationship for nearly two years but broke up last spring.

The accused was apparently upset after learning she was in a new relationship with a man he didn’t like and decided to seek revenge by creating a Facebook account under a bogus name, then posting the pictures online and sending links to friends of the girl and her new boyfriend, court was told.
The photos included topless shots of the teen and others which showed her naked torso, but not her face. In Canada, nude photos of a sexual nature depicting anyone under the age of 18 are considered child pornography.
The accused was arrested in April and spent four nights in custody before getting bail. He then sent his ex-girlfriend an email apology. "I’m sorry for showing you to his friends. I got charged with child pornography and that’s killer," he wrote.
The man was quickly re-arrested by police and charged with violating his bail by having contact with the victim. He has been in custody at Headingley Jail ever since.
Provincial court Judge Kelly Moar called the man’s actions "totally reprehensible" and noted the explicit pictures of the girl will remain online forever.
"What you chose to do is unfortunately something that cannot be undone," Moar said. "There's no delete button on the Internet. Those things float forever on the Internet."
Defence lawyer Michelle Bright said her client was motivated by revenge, not sexual deviance. A pre-sentenced report shows he is a low-risk to re-offend and has expressed remorse for his actions.
Moar sentenced the man to three and-a-half more months in jail, in addition to two and-a-half months of time already served. He also placed the accused on two years of supervised probation which includes an order to stay away from the victim. He is also banned from having any Internet access unless it’s related to his work or schooling and must attend domestic counselling.

A young Winnipeg man's plot to seek revenge on his ex-girlfriend by posting explicit photos of the teen on Facebook has netted him a six-month jail term for distributing child pornography.
The 18-year-old was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in July to the child-pornography charge and another allegation of criminal harassment.
'I'm sorry for showing you to his friends … I got charged with child pornography and that's killer.'— 18-year-old who tried to get revenge on former girlfriend
A court-ordered ban prevents his name from being published because it could identify the 16-year-old victim.
The two teens had been in a romantic relationship for about two years but broke up in March, court heard.
The man was arrested in April after friends of the victim's new boyfriend were sent an online link taking them to a Facebook profile page in the girl's name. Explicit photos of her were posted there, Crown prosecutor Terry McComb said.
The 18-year-old spent four nights in jail but was released on bail conditions that included a ban against contacting the younger teen for any reason.
However, a few days after his release, he created a new Hotmail email account and sent the victim a message, McComb said.
"Please just read and don't tell the cops," the message said. "I'm sorry for showing you to his friends … I got charged with child pornography and that's killer."
McComb told provincial court Judge Kelly Moar that the apology was not allowed under the bail terms.
After reading the email, the girl phoned police, who quickly rearrested the young man and charged him with harassment. He's been held at the Headingley Correctional Centre ever since.
Defence lawyer Michelle Bright said a need for revenge motivated the 18-year-old after his ex-girlfriend started a relationship, not long after the breakup, with someone he didn't like.
The teen is remorseful for what he did and told a probation officer, "I don't like [jail], but I deserve it," Bright said.
Moar called the man's actions "totally reprehensible" and said it's possible he made the girl a lifelong victim of sexual exploitation because of the permanence of online content.
"What you chose to do … is unfortunately something that cannot be undone," Moar said. "There's no delete button on the internet. Those things float forever on the internet."
Moar sentenced the man to three and a half more months in jail after crediting him for the more than two months he's already spent locked up.
Moar also ordered him to two years on supervised probation, which forbids him from having any access to the internet or using a computer unless it's at work or school.
A court-ordered pre-sentencing report recommended the teen be released immediately into a community-based domestic-violence treatment program. McComb and the man's lawyer, Michelle Bright, told Moar the case was more akin to one involving domestic violence and not sexual deviance.
At the request of the lawyers, Moar declined to have the man's name placed on a federal database of sex-offenders, calling such a move "grossly disproportionate" given the circumstances of the case.

So what purpose does prison serve in this case? Absolutely none. We should not imprison non violent and non dangerous offenders, such as this teen. Prison for this teen is harsh, inappropriate and excessive. He is not a child molester or sex offender! The public does not need to be protected from this man. Jail will cause more harm than good. He should have received community service and counseling. He expressed remorse for his stupidity and is being punished for apologizing. He cannot have internet access unless it's related to work or schooling. Imprisoning this teen and giving him a criminal record, creates barriers for employment in his future. He made a mistake. He didn't intend to "distribute." Youth brains are under-developed and they do not consider the consequences of their actions or the possibility of punishment. He made a bad decision, that's all. Prison is completely inappropriate. This man is not a child molester or predator by any means. He is not dangerous to society. The made a mistake and posted the pictures. Imprisoning him is a waste of money and resources and causes further overcrowding when the courts overrely on prisons. It is waste of money and the courts. Prisons are the schools of crime and educate non violent offenders to become hardened criminals. They learn skills and how to avoid detection.

This man's actions were a mistake. He had no intention to "distribute" child pornography. It was a mistake made in the heat of the moment, with contributing emotions of rage and revenge. Prison is completely inappropriate. It serves no purpose and fails to address the social and economic, psychological and biological root causes of the crime. This man will be released with no rehabilitation, and a criminal record which creates barriers to later employment and housing opportunities. He is a low risk to re-offend, is not a danger to society and expressed remorse for his actions. Prison is an excessive punishment. I also think that holding this man at Headingly prior to his court date, was also excessive. Prison is a negative environment with negative influences and pro criminal attitudes. He should have been granted bail as he is not a danger to society. This crime was motivated by a need to revenge and emotions of rage. This man should have received 2 years probation with no access to internet or contact with the victim, court ordered counseling and community service. That would be more meaningful than prison.     

it has been proven time and time again that punishment in most cases, is completely ineffective. Rehabilitation, and prevention and restoration are the effective and long term crime solutions. Too bad the Conservatives ignore criminological and sociological research....

haha 3,000 years we've been throwing people in prison. 3000 years it hasn't been working. I distinctly remember having this conversation already. See what I mean about not changing opinions? You are fighting a battle of wits, with an unarmed opponent. There is no way to win. He will just scream "CRIMINALS" every time he sees a crime, and never look past it.

There are much better ways to punish and rehabilitate people than prison. The fact we don't use them is pretty telling. Nobody learns from prison, except how to commit more crimes. My proof? Look at yourself. What do you learn from? Certainly not the people you encounter in your day to day life. You learn from what you believe will benefit you. You see no value in others peaceful beliefs because you cannot make profits from it, so you choose to discard them.

This is the type of mentality that supports our wholesale industrial slaughter of innocent human beings halfway across the world, on the premise that 'we' are better, and deserve more rights, than other people.

Prison for this man is harsh, inappropriate and excessive. He is not a danger to society and is a low risk to re-offend. He made a mistake by posting nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend online that was motivated by a desire for revenge and emotions of rage. He expressed remorse for his actions. Prison serves no purpose, has negative effects and creates barriers for employment and housing opportunities. He should have received probation and community service.