Does Our Criminal Justice System Really Work In Canada?
March 24, 2021
We Deserve Better
March 24, 2021
The Global Silicon Shortage Explained
March 24, 2021
Women In STEM
March 24, 2021
The Socialization of Women
March 24, 2021

Does Our Criminal Justice System Really Work In Canada?

 

March 24, 2021

By: Linda Berry

The full article can be viewed at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ob6zVtvEtrmLBX_jyhK3h6tcrUUL1Gnb7Y_v4_bHwnI/edit?usp=sharing 

 

TW: Some content may be disturbing in discussing mental health issues, solitary confinement, and use of force in prisons.  

 

Oftentimes, when we think of a horrendous criminal justice system, we think of the United States where 25% of the world’s prison population lives, where the incarceration system is an industry that brings in lots of cash for businesses and politicians at the expense of millions of lives. But oftentimes, we don’t hear about the Canadian criminal justice system- and we should. 

Here are some reasons why the Canadian criminal justice system must change, in order for our society to move forward peacefully. 

 

Racialized and marginalized Canadiens are highly over represented in the Canadian criminal justice system.

  • Research from 2016 found that while Black Canadians make up 3% of the population, they make up 10% of the federal prison population. 

  • Between 2005 and 2016, it was found that the federal incarceration rate of Black people increased by 70%. 

  • A commision done 10 years prior found racism throughout every level of the justice system in Ontario. Racism was found in policing, the courts, and correctional institutions. Although the problem was identified, not much was done to solve it, with soaring incarceration rates of Black Canadians. 

  • An issue that leads to the incarceration of Black Canadians is carding incidents, in which police stop and question individuals without cause. Black Canadians are disproportionately targeted for carding. For example, while 8% of Torontonians are Black, they make up 27% of carding incidents, according to 2013 reports. 

  • The Canadian Indigenous population is disproportionately represented as well. Indigenous Canadians account for 4.3% of the general population, but an extreme 24.4% of the prison population.

  • Although no data has been collected on this subject in Canada, it was found that LGBTQ+ people are incarcerated at higher rates than non-LGBTQ+ people. For example, LGBT and gender nonconforming youth in the US are represented in the incarceration population at three times the rate of the general population. 

Health issues:

  • Inmates in Canadian prisons are far more likely than the general population to suffer from HIV and AIDS, and are quite prone to psychiatric and mental health issues.

  • After being released, inmates are 58 times more likely than a regular person to have a psychiatric episode, which has often landed them in health facilities. 

  • A major problem that contributes to the HIV and AIDS problem is the lack of harm reduction. HIV is generally spread with use of syringes for the prison population, and very little is done to reduce harm.

  • Access to sterile injection equipment is actually extremely limited, according to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, a lawyer and the director of the research and advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

  • Lack of harm reduction resources is detrimental to the health of prisoners, since research shows that 17% of male and 14% of female inmates use injectable drugs and overdose deaths have increased over the years. 

  • Furthermore, stigma is another enormous problem for prisoners in terms of being tested for HIV out of fear of facing discrimination from Facility workers and inmates alike, as well as the loss of confidentiality of their results. 

  • Research shows that time in prison is detrimental to the prisoner’s health, when examining their life expectancy. According to Catherine Latimer, an executive director at John Howard Society of Canada, inmates receive far less health care than the general population of Canadians, and they age 10 years faster in the prison community than the general community. 

  • COVID-19 has left both correctional officers and prisoners vulnerable, with many health risks in prison conditions. For example, lack of access to sanitary products, being in close condition with others, and so on. 

Education:

  • Statistics have shown that access to education and vocational training in prisons is both cheaper and more effective at keeping people from returning to prisons than longer sentences, or punishments. For example, a report from the US found that formerly incarcerated people who participated in education programs had 43% lower rates of being rearrested than those who did not participate. However, when you look at Correctional Service Canada, it is found that it costs an average of $111,202 annually to incarcerate one man, with only $2950 being spent on education per prisoner. 

  • $2950 is almost four times less than per student spending by the government of Ontario. 

  • There is a legal mandate that requires education to be provided to prisoners in Canada which is often overlooked- and 75% of prisoners are without a high school diploma, meaning there is urgent need for more educational programs in Canadian prisons.

  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) also does a very poor job of providing support for prisoners with learning disabilities, and adequately staffing libraries, and library resources. 

  • Furthermore, in 2015/2016, it was found that the MCSCS cut their educational spending by 10%.

  • In Canada, there are no Pell Grants, which are grants in the US that are provided as assistance to prisoners if they wish to pursue an education once they have finished their sentence. 

 

We Deserve Better

 

March 24, 2021

By: Sophie Milley

 

On Sunday, March 7th, 2021 a petition was started by Vanessa House Milley (my mom!) to ask the OCDSB to plan for a better model for the September 2021 school year. The Ottawa Carleton District School Board sent out an email on February 27th with the headline “September 2021: We’re Ready to Welcome All Students Back to the Classroom”. Reading this I was super excited because I thought we would be going back to a more regular routine without quadmesters. Instead, the title was completely misleading with the contents of the email saying that the only change that would be implemented was “We hope to start the year and/or move to two classes a day and a lunch break between classes as soon as possible.” 

 

At this point, over 1, 800 people have signed the petition and it has reached an audience with the members of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Joel Harden, our Member of Provincial Parliament, who will be speaking to the provincial legislature this week about an increase in funding for next year and an elimination of the quadmester system. Catherine Mackenna has also signed, retweeted and shared the petition. 

 

It is obvious by the large, positive reaction from the community that many people have the same view, students and parents alike The current schedule, while it may have been effective this year for stopping the spread of COVID, has had an entirely negative effect on the mental health of students. In a survey the OCDSB recently sent out, ten of thousands of students expressed their sadness, frustration, depression, anger, and strain that the current system has put on them. Personally, I lost all motivation for school. I am frustrated and stressed out with my schoolwork and for the online portion I am always distracted. So upsetting were the combined comments, that our school sent out a list of support resources for those who needed it. Not even 12 hours after the survey closed, the OCDSB sent out the email describing the schedule for September. Unless I am very much mistaken, less than 12 hours does not seem like enough time to evaluate the comments and create a structure for the following school year. At this point, we do not know what September will look like, but only planning for the worst-case scenario does not seem like the best plan. The school board still has five months to think of a better plan or more than one plan depending on what the situation looks like in September. 

 

We have seen that other school systems work while following safety guidelines and limiting spreading. For example, my younger sister goes to an elementary school where they are in school full-time and follow the same timetable as they would pre-Covid, they all wear masks, eat inside,  sit six feet apart, and stay in one classroom the entire day while their teachers rotate. The Catholic schools have the cohort system, but they have two subjects per day instead of only one, which, according to student feedback, has proven to be much more effective. They are also set to return full-time in-school with no cohorts for September, along with lots of other Ontario cities including Toronto, which currently has six times more cases than we do in Ottawa. Why is it that Ottawa, with limited cases, is ignoring the fact that while students are physically safe, they are not safe from a mental health point of view - and this continues to get worse? We are moving out of the current pandemic, but into one that could be much more damaging, a mental health pandemic. 

 

If you agree with what you have read or you want to help get the OCDSB to develop a new plan for the September 2021 school year, please sign the petition down below, and share it with your friends, family, and on social media. We are getting closer to truly making a change!


https://www.change.org/p/ottawa-carleton-district-school-board-ocdsb-plan-for-a-better-2021-22-secondary-school-year

 

The Global Silicon Shortage Explained

March 24, 2021

By: Grayson Mulder

 

Due to the pandemic, the world has been in a bit of a freefall for the past year. Governments have been scrambling to bring things back to some form of “normalcy” but with the rise of digital communication becoming more essential than ever before, there has been a huge demand for laptops, tablets, and computers in general. This may seem all well and good but the demand for these devices is so greatly above what is typical, that there has been a shortage of silicon, the primary element of all computer processors. 

 

Why does this matter? The fewer chips for these devices are available, the fewer computers are available to the people who need them which are needed for work and education for many people. Furthermore, the new generation of video game consoles that came out in November last year are facing supply issues as well which has caused scalpers to purchase them en mass, often using bots to buy them faster than a human ever could. They resell them on websites like Amazon and eBay for over double the RRP. 

 

Even the automotive industry is struggling because cars require chips and those are in short supply. This is surprising as cars use much lower-end silicon than what you would find in a traditional computer. Because the tasks it needs to perform are very simple compared to what your home computer is doing. Silicon quality can also vary greatly between even chips of the same line and if the chips do not meet performance expectations they will be thrown out this means that perfectly good chips are being thrown out so not even every chip produced will ever be used further exacerbating the issue. 

 

This all culminates in a substantial shortage of parts and silicon. There is hope on the horizon though with the vaccine rollout (slowly) happening and people being less reliant on technology and hopefully soon fully returning to work and production becoming more robust and supply catching up with the demand things should return to normal regarding the issue.

 

Women In STEM

 

March 24, 2021

By: Knightwatch Editors

 

March 8th was International Women’s Day, and to acknowledge the day, Ms. Armstrong organized a virtual showing of the documentary, Picture a Scientist, hosted by Ms. MacKechnie. The documentary discussed the severe gender-based discrimination that women face in STEM fields. There is a long-standing misogynistic culture present in these fields, and to this day, women are excluded, ignored, talked over, and treated like technicians by their male colleagues. This gender-based harassment leads to a “leaky pipeline” of women continuously leaving their positions as students or workers in the sciences. The higher the job position is, the more likely it is to be held by a white, straight man. 

Not only does this misogyny make it extremely difficult for women to find success in the sciences, it also buries the scientific achievements of women throughout history. A large majority of the scientists in our texts are white men, but they aren’t the only ones who have made significant impacts in science. 

Head over to our Music/TV/Movies/Podcasts section for a podcast recommendation to learn more about women in science throughout history.

 

The Socialization of Women

March 24, 2021

By: Anonymous

 

Ever since elementary school, many young girls have been tied to a ‘how to be a lady’ sort of culture. The tutorial is long and out of order, but this set of rules seems as binding as ever.

This way of thinking tends to follow a pattern, influenced by experience and adapted for safety. It started when we were very young; I can speak for many of my peers when I say that ‘playground games’ from kindergarten went too far. I remember back in kindergarten, boys would chase girls to kiss them, grab them and ‘kidnap’ them. It was always brushed off with “he’s doing that because he likes you”. I played in these games and thought nothing of it. Teachers watched and parents were told, they didn’t step in, why would they? It’s just a game. I was always told that boys will be boys, and I had no reason to disagree.

As I grew older, the games continued and evolved. In the second grade, boys would try to touch girls’ crotches, saying ‘I got your no-no square’. It made me uncomfortable, of course- but I didn’t say anything to a teacher. Neither did anyone else. Boys will be boys.

In the sixth grade, we’d been taught about consent, and assault, and rape. We all knew that rape was bad, obviously. The teachers were watchful for inappropriate behaviour. However, they didn’t hear what certain boys would whisper to each other in corners, or in the yard. Just barely out of earshot, they’d whisper things like ‘oh, I’d wheel her,” “she’s disgusting,” “did you see how low-cut her top was”. It was gross. I heard it, felt self-conscious, then moved on. Why would I say anything? They’re just being boys.

Thankfully, I’ve learned and grown out of this way of thinking. I am not afraid to call out this behaviour, and I am not afraid to act, dress and think the way I want. It doesn’t mean that everyone has had the privilege to do so. I have been lucky to grow up in an accepting environment, with strong women in my life. My mother taught me to be confident and to uplift other confident women. Despite this, I have dealt with my fair share of insecurities, envy and internalized misogyny. I’m still in the process of learning how to feel joy rather than jealousy for others, and it’s hard. We are all products of a competitive and cutthroat society.

Even with the way I’ve been treated by young boys, it is not any child’s fault. Children imitate, they have been brought up to think this way.  A boy in kindergarten chasing a girl around to catch and kiss them isn’t evil, nor do they know what they’re doing is wrong. They’ve seen it on TV, from their fathers, from the men that they look up to. It comes down to education. Consent, manners and respect need to be taught young, to break the cycle of abuse. The responsibility falls on fathers to do the work, and raise respectful sons. Don't teach girls how not to be raped - teach boys not to rape.

While reading this, many may be thinking, ‘what about feminism?’ I agree that acts such as the MeToo movement did wonders for awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, and I believe the feminism that’s grown from the women’s suffrage movement can be beautiful. Within the movement, though, we have a long way to go. Modern white, cisgender feminism does not create a safe space for all women. Racist women and trans exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, run rampant in feminist spaces. Not to mention the lack of diversity- most online ‘girl power’ groups that I’ve seen are dominated by white, cishet, middle class women.

Many marginalized groups don’t feel they have a place in feminism today. The racist stereotypes that intertwine with misogyny, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the brutality against trans women are ignored in mainstream feminism. The movement is important, it’s undeniable. Nevertheless, there is so much progress to be made and issues to be tackled, and the absence of intersectionality is the first on that list.

Anyone affected by misogyny reading this is not surprised. My experiences are not uncommon, they know how I feel and why I am angry. Some men, however, might not realize the harm of their actions and why their words left such a mark. I am not here to put blame on anyone, simply to hold accountability. We all have room to grow and unlearn the societal standards that have been pushed on us since birth, and it is a long, difficult process. Uplift others, hold each other accountable, continuously educate yourselves, and aid those in need as much as you can. We, as a community, need to do the work.

 
 
 
 
 

KNIGHTWATCH 2020/2021