May 2014

How to avoid ‘kindergarten antics with your neighbours.

May 27, 2014

The Globe and Mail- Zosia Bielski- The story of two couples embroiled in a $1.8-million lawsuit over dog doo, surveillance cameras and a staring problem in the wealthy Toronto enclave of Forest Hill has caught the attention of many neighbours this week.

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Restorative Justice- A Call for Case Studies

May 22, 2014


Are you a practitioner working with victims in the community or within the criminal justice system? Have you been a victim of the criminal justice system and have a view on how criminal justice service should be provided? Do you know of any good examples where criminal justice is delivered in the interest of victims while respecting their rights? Have you seen a good restorative justice practice that is delivered safely and in the interest for the victim?

Then this is your chance to have your work and views published in the high profile forthcoming book Gavrielides, T. (2014), A victim-led criminal justice system for Europe: Addressing the paradox, London: IARS Publications. We are looking for 10 case studies. Therefore, they will be accepted on a first come basis. Submission Deadline 15 July 2014. The book will be launched by the Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright, on 19-20 November 2014 at the international IARS conference “A Victim-led Criminal Justice System for Europe”.

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Love creates space for restorative justice.

May 21, 2014

Eureka Street – Andrew Hamilton describes the essence of restorative justice. Can we make the shift in thinking required to include love in penal justice?  “The health of the victims of crime and of the community depends on people trying to make the impossible possible.”

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Is it time for a climate change peace and reconciliation process?

May 20, 2014

Viewing restorative justice processes in different contexts- an interesting dialogue. 

Thomson Reuters Foundation- Laurie Goering- “Could a peace and reconciliation process between big climate polluters and their victims be one way to move forward action on climate change?”

Thomson Reuters Foundation- Terry Cannon- Although set in the context of climate adaptation, the question is relevant to and needs to be asked about RJ- “Why do we pretend there is ‘community’?

The Toronto Star- Tim Harper- RCMP report on aboriginal women puts numbers to our national shame


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Can restorative justice inform traditional justice in different ways?

May 14, 2014

How does RJ fit into the justice picture when the discussion turns to areas such as drug treatment courts, mental health courts, and cyberbullying? The Manitoba drug treatment court is in jeopardy because of loss of funding. A ‘miscarriage of justice’ prompts calls for mental health court in Edmonton. Parents of teens who have committed suicide because of cyberbullying have differing views on the federal anti-cyberbullying bill. These are not traditional areas for RJ. How does RJ add its voice? 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada website- an excellent resource with numerous articles and up to date information.

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UN report on Aboriginals warns of crisis in Canada

May 13, 2014

CTV News- “In a new report released Monday, James Anaya — the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples — says there appears to be a high level of distrust among aboriginal Canadians toward both the federal government and the provinces. The report notes that the “disturbing phenomenon” of missing and murdered aboriginal women has further strained relations, and it calls on Ottawa to launch “a comprehensive, national inquiry” into the issue of why aboriginal women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse.”   The Canadian Press– And yet “British Columbia’s justice minister insisted Monday that a notorious section of highway in the province’s north known as the Highway of Tears is safer today than it has been…….” Read more.

The Canadian Press- ‘Tough on crime’ still on trend in Canada, but going out of style in the US- WASHINGTON — “A pair of newly released reports show two countries moving in opposite directions on law and order: Canada gearing up for stricter sentencing laws just as the tough-on-crime era winds down in the United States.” Even Conservative supporter Conrad Black states- “It is a completely rotten system……..”  Calgary Herald- ‘The rise & fall of America’s tough on crime era, through the eyes of on inmate’

Getting to the Root of Restorative Justice on the Radio– by Citlalli Chavez- worth a listen with some great links!

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CBC NEWS- War on drugs a global failure, London School of Economics

May 12, 2014

Ending the Drug Wars– “Based on rigorous economic and social analyses of primarily the U.S., Latin America, West Africa and Asia, the authors urge that global resources shift from prosecution and imprisonment to more “effective evidence-based polices” such as harm reduction, treatment and public health strategies. Similar recommendations are suggested for Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.”

Current policies have helped push the black market drug trade to as much as $300 billion, and the 40 per cent of the world’s nine million prison inmates are jailed for drug-related offences — a figure that jumps to 59 per cent in the U.S. Moreover, between 70 and 85 per cent of American inmates are in need of substance abuse treatment.”

Globe & Mail- Justice Canada chops research budget by $1.2 million– “The federal Justice Department has chopped $1.2 million from its research budget, and is tightening control to ensure future legal research is better aligned with the government’s law-and-order agenda.” Research should be carried out to inform government policy not support government ideology.

Winnipeg Free Press- Restorative Justice legislation expected this spring. “Manitoba announced it will introduce legislation this spring that’s intended to expand the use of restorative justice as a way to reduce crime and relieve the burden on the province’s justice system.”

US Man back in prison after being released 90 years too soon– After serving 8 years and being out in the community for 6 years with a new family, good job and upstanding life Rene Lima-Marin is back in prison because of a clerical error. Does this situation tell us that the principles of RJ restoration, reconciliation, reintegration, responsibility, non-violence can help to inform how we view serious crime.  

The Jakarta Post- Police to use restorative justice in fatal bullying case…..


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Youth Criminal Justice Act works, Prof. says

May 09, 2014

The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy hosted a conference this week focused on achieving the best outcomes for children. Speaker Nicholas Bala, a lawyer and law professor from Queen’s University.

The Conservative government’s mandatory victim surcharge is creating serious conflict between itself and the judiciary. Does it help victims?

Missing, Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada Number More Than 1000– Yet the Conservative government is resisting renewed calls for an inquiry.- “It’s a human-rights issue. We do it for salmon. We do it for corruption … how come we don’t have the same thing for missing and murdered aboriginal women?”

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More Bulging Prisons Loom Federal Watchdog Says

May 08, 2014

The auditor general sees more overcrowded Canadian prisons on the horizon, despite the Conservative government’s much-touted revamp of federal penitentiaries.

Individual injustice, collective struggle: Examples from migrant justice organizing- Not strictly speaking about RJ but an example of how RJ principles and values affect so many areas of life.

Australia gets it right– “Justice reinvestment involves the rebalancing of criminal justice expenditure from custody to community-based initiatives that tackle the causes of crime, rather than the results of crime, and is a key mechanism for addressing reoffending and making the justice system more effective and efficient.”

Ontario faces the prospect of two-tier justice–  “the drastic overrepresentation of aboriginal peoples within both the Canadian prison population and the criminal justice system reveals a sad and pressing social problem.” This was in 1999. Sadly, nothing much has changed since, and inadequate underfunding of legal aid plans across the country will only ensure that nothing does.

Saskatchewan gets it right– “Faced with a tsunami of marginalized citizens and the flood of crime that came in its wake, former Prince Albert police chief Dale McFee and others had two choices: They either could continue a classic police approach of tough enforcement that required more resources, or they could take an informed view of and take pre-emptive steps. Fortunately for Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and even Canada, they chose the latter.”

Inquest into First Nations students deaths may be delayed– “The issue was highlighted more than a year ago in a scathing report by retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, saying the justice system was failing Aboriginal people. He noted that First Nations leaders “were unequivocal that reintroducing restorative justice programs would have multiple benefits at the community level.”

An overview on how we arrived at our modern justice system and a lawyers perspective on the federal victim’s bill of rights. Has RJ been pushed aside? “However, at its core, the movement toward putting victims “at the heart of our judicial system” is about participation and restitution — concepts that hearken toward vengeance and retaliation, and away from proportionality and rehabilitation.” 

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