Community forum on gangs and gang violence
October 9, 2018
On Thursday, October 4th, CrimSL hosted a community forum on gangs and gang violence. “The Rose(s) that Grew From Concrete: Conversations with Former Gang Members about Violence, Trauma and Policy Options” brought together community members, academics, members of the Toronto Police Service Gun & Gang Taskforce, and former gang members.
In recent months gang violence in the city has drawn the attention of law enforcement, politicians, media, and the public. While there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the so-called gang problem, there has been inconsistent and often conflicting knowledge that has informed the issue. The goal of this community forum was to provide an intellectual bridge where former gang members, researchers, policy makers, law enforcement and state officials are able to discuss and explore the gang phenomena in more detail.
Former gang members gave firsthand accounts of the causes and consequences of gang violence and how they became involved. Panelists and audience members discussed poverty, youth programming and the need for long-term sustainable funding to address community needs, the negative impacts of the criminal justice system on racialized and marginalized youth, and recent proposals to address gun violence in Toronto.
CrimSL at the 2018 LSA Conference
June 11, 2018
The 2018 meeting of the Law and Society Association, ‘Law at the crossroads,’ was held in Toronto from June 7th to 10th. The conference brought together scholars from around the world to a forum for discussion on myriad topics in the areas of legal research, sociolegal studies, criminology, and more. The Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies was well represented, with CrimSL faculty, PhD students, and alumni were among the conference organizers, volunteers, session chairs, discussants and presenters.
Professor Mariana Valverde was program chair for the conference and Centre Director Audrey Macklin was chair of the Local Arrangements Committee. Professor Valverde was also a discussant for two sessions and presented at the Law and Society Association/Canadian Law and Society Association Junior Scholars Workshops on June 6th.
The conference program featured research by many current PhD students at the Centre: “Making Enemies: Military Justice, Civilian Protesters and ‘Treason Against the Homeland’ in Venezuela,” by Giancarlo Fiorella; “The Power and Limits of Judicial Review: Analyzing the Interaction between the Court and the Police Complaints System in Producing ‘Accountability,’” by Jihyun Kwon; “Halfway House Residency, Reentry, and Desistance: The Narratives of Indigenous Ex-Prisoners,” Katharina Maier; “Implicating the state: the production and authorization of Indigenous people’s social histories in Canada, from Indian Agents to Gladue Reports,” by Jacquie Briggs; and “Power and order in a non-traditional prison. The case of Punta de Rieles prison in Uruguay,” by Fernando Avila. “The Queen’s Red Children: Commissions, Law & Empire in Canada,” by Mayana Slobodian was accepted for presentation at the conference, and her presence there was missed by friends and colleagues. The session Kinder, Gentler, More Benevolent: Interrogating the Myth of Canada’s Liberal Settler Colonialism was chaired by PhD student Jacquie Briggs, with CrimSL Professor Catherine Evans and PhD student Mayana Slobodian scheduled as discussants.
Centre faculty also presented research, including “Old Age and Law in the British Empire” by CrimSL Professor Catherine Evans. “Police unionism and ‘lawfare’ in postcolonial India” by CrimSL Professor Beatrice Jauregui; “Property as a Site of Colonial Contestation: The Legal Form and the Legality of Anti-Colonial Protest” by CrimSL Professor Honor Brabazon; and “Police, Politics, and Demobilization: Exploring Policy Feedback Effects in Britain” by Ayobami Laniyonu, who will join the Centre in 2019. Finally, CrimSL Professor Matthew Light was a reader in one of the Author Meets Reader sessions, Recent Socio-Legal Books on Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union.
Congratulations to 2018 LSA Graduate Student Paper Prize winner Ayobami Laniyonu
May 22, 2018
Ayobami Laniyonu, who will be joining the Centre in July 2019 as an assistant professor, has been awarded the 2018 Law and Society Association Graduate Student Paper Prize for “Coffee Shops and Street Stops: Policing Practices in Gentrifying Neighborhoods.” The Law and Society Association presents this award to the graduate student paper that best represents outstanding law and society research.
From the awards announcement: “This article explores the effect of gentrification and neighborhood change on policing patterns. Ayobami approaches the challenging topic of spatial implications of the postindustrial policing hypothesis. Analyzing recently released quantitative data from New York City, Ayobami tests the implications of the extant research, finding a strong and positive association between gentrification and Stop-and-Frisk police stops. His article emphasizes the importance of spatial dimensions in the analysis of urban policing. Ayobami’s work was nominated by Professor Mona Lynch.” Laniyonu wrote a blog post discussing the research published in this prize-winning paper for the Urban Affairs Forum.
Laniyonu is currently a PhD candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research scientist at the Center for Policing Equity. His research explores the impact of the criminal justice system on political behavior and the impact of urban revitalization on policing practices.
This prize, and the other 2018 LSA awards, will be presented at the International Meeting in Toronto on Thursday, June 7 at 1:30 pm. Congratulations to Ayobami and to all of the award winners!
CrimSL PhD student collaborates on open-source investigation of political violence
May 14, 2018
Since early this year, CrimSL PhD student Giancarlo Fiorella has been collaborating with the Bellingcat Investigation Team and Forensic Architecture on an open source investigation into the events that lead to the death of Óscar Pérez in a raid on a safe house in El Junquito, Venezuela on January 15, 2018.
On May 13, 2018, the team published a report, in English and Spanish, researched and authored by Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy, of the Bellingcat Investigation Team, which describes the investigation so far. Fiorella and Leroy also published an op-ed in the New York Times appealing to members of the public to help with the investigation by getting in touch with videos, photos and details from El Junquito the morning of the raid.
The team is using open-source forensics—collecting, identifying, verifying, and plotting in space and time available media online to reconstruct a narrative—and have located about 60 pieces of evidence, including tweets, videos, and photos from citizens, security forces, and Pérez himself, and leaked audio of police radio communications, within a navigable three-dimensional digital platform that shows a model of the safe house and the environment of El Junquito around it.
Fiorella, whose research interests centre on political violence in Venezuela, protest policing, and social movements, wrote that “working on this report made me gain a new perspective on the incredible work that Venezuelan journalists are doing, in the most adverse conditions possible. We could not have concluded this report without their tireless efforts to uncover the truth and reveal it to others.”
A note for prospective students: the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies does not have a program in forensic studies. You can learn more about the University of Toronto Mississauga undergraduate forensic science program from their website or by contacting their office at 905-828-3726.
Context for the arrest in the Toronto van attack
April 25, 2018
In the wake of the van attack in Toronto on Monday, April 23rd, scholars from the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies have provided expert commentary and insight in various media regarding the arrest of the suspect without the use of lethal force. This list will be updated as media appearances continue.
- Professor Scot Wortley and PhD student Erick Laming, along with U of T Mississauga psychology professor Judith Andersen, spoke with U of T News about the police officer’s conduct and the de-escalation training that Toronto Police receive.
- Professor Wortley also spoke with several CBC radio programmes: Afternoon Drive, The Homestretch, and On The Coast.
- Professors Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner wrote, in their The Lawyer’s Daily column, about the lessons for reducing police shootings that can be drawn from Monday’s events
- PhD student Erick Laming spoke with USA Today about police-involved shootings in the US and Canada.
- Criminological Highlights shared a look at research addressing the question “What should we do to reduce police shootings of civilians?” from their most recent issue.
Vice series on cannabis arrests and race
April 20, 2018
PhD student Alex Luscombe and PhD graduate Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, who teaches a course at the Centre as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at UTM, collaborated with journalist Rachel Browne on a Vice News Canada series about cannabis arrests and race. In the lead up to legalization later this year, they looked at arrest statistics for six Canadian cities: Regina, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Ottawa. They compared race-based data from police with census data from Statistics Canada. The first part of the series, written by Browne, gives a city-by-city breakdown of the racial disparities that the analysis demonstrated.
In the second part of the series, Luscombe and Owusu-Bempah co-authored an op-ed arguing that legalization alone won’t solve the problem of overrepresentation. They discuss the limitations posed by Canada’s lack of systemically collected, racially disaggregated criminal justice data “racial disparities in arrests for drug offences are the result of broader policing practices that are themselves heavily racialized.”
In the third and final part of the series, Browne wrote about the calls for the federal government to proactively grant mass pardons for cannabis possession in the lead up to legalization.
Indigenous Youth Perspectives on the Justice System: Listening and learning
April 20, 2018
On Friday, April 20th, Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, held Indigenous Youth Perspectives on the Justice System: Listening and learning. This event was a collaboration between the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, the Ontario Justice Education Network, the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, the Ontario Child Advocate, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (VP & Provost Division), Woodsworth College, and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources.
The event was an opportunity for students, scholars, practitioners, and community members in Toronto to support Indigenous youth in their ongoing work towards justice system education and reform. The speakers delivered an update on the implementation of recommendations identified at the Aboriginal Youth Designing a Better Justice System event in August 2017 and the Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan forum and report released March 2016, and shared their efforts to develop technology solutions to build a justice system that is reflective of Aboriginal experiences and responsive to Aboriginal traditions.
Vanessa Iafolla at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
April 18, 2018
On April 18th, CrimSL PhD graduate Vanessa Iafolla, now a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo, testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. As part of the Statutory Review of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, Dr. Iafolla shared her research on money laundering and terrorism.
The review of the act, which takes place every five years, is meant to ensure that anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislative framework keeps pace with technological, market, and environmental developments and commitments.
Iafolla discussed several issues regarding the identification and reporting of suspicious financial activity, including the need for guidance and feedback, the role of discretion and subjective judgements, and the impact of corporate secrecy. Iafolla’s testimony and her responses to questions from members of the committee can be read in the Evidence for the committee meeting and are also available as video (timestamp 16:39:42).
Special Advisors Appointed for Adult Corrections
April 6, 2018
Dr. Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Professor of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and University of Toronto Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, has been appointed as Ontario’s independent expert on human rights and corrections. In this role, she will provide impartial advice, including advice regarding the province’s plan to track inmates placed in restrictive confinement and segregation, and regarding the way public data is released.
Professor Hannah-Moffat’s advice will assist the government’s implementation of a joint agreement with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), reached in January 2018, which continues the implementation of ten public interest remedies that were mandated in the 2013 settlement with former inmate Christina Jahn. In this agreement, Ontario committed to appointing special advisors to analyze and comment on the continued improvement of services and the conditions of confinement for individuals in Ontario’s adult correctional institutions—particularly those with mental health issues. The Honourable Justice David Cole has been appointed as Ontario’s independent reviewer to monitor the government’s compliance with both the 2013 settlement and the terms of the new agreement.
2018 Graduate Student Conference: Rethinking Law, Criminal Justice Policy, and Regulation
March 9, 2018
The 2018 Graduate Student Conference was held on Friday, March 9, 2018. The annual conference provides graduate students with an opportunity to present their academic research in an interdisciplinary context and network with others doing work on related issues.
Graduate students from the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, Université Laval, Ryerson University, and Carleton University presented in sessions facilitated by conference organizers and Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies PhD Students Samantha Aeby, Andrea Sterling, and Jihyun Kwon.
Check out conference highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #crimGSC
Keynote address: Beyond privatization and neoliberalism: analysing hybrid networks of urban development
Professor Mariana Valverde’s keynote address at the Birbeck Law review 2017 Conference, ‘Law and the City: Exploring the Urban Revolution in Critical Legal Studies,’ is available as a podcast on Soundcloud.
Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies on the Travel Ban
The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies joins with other members of the University Community in denouncing US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning the entry of resettled refugees and nationals of seven Muslim majority states. Our scholarly interest in revealing discourses and practices of criminalization, discrimination, stigmatization and securitization is coupled with practical commitment to naming and opposing injustice. The Executive Order’s criminalization of refugees, its vilification of migrants on the basis of national origin and faith community, and the arbitrary abuse of authority entailed by its implementation, each and all exhibit contempt for human rights and the rule of law.
The Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies will continue to work with and across the University to find ways to mitigate the damaging impact of the Executive Order for those directly and indirectly affected. As Canadian scholars with strong links to the United States, we wish to express our solidarity with our American colleagues who are protesting this Executive Order, and with those students and faculty who are directly and indirectly its victims. The Executive Order gravely threatens the vitality of the US academy. Mindful of the destructive effect of this travel ban on international scholarly interaction, we offer US-based professional associations with which many of us are affiliated (including the Law and Society Association and the American Society for Criminology), our assistance and support in relocating conferences and workshops outside the United States, in order that all invited participants be able to attend.
February 8, 2017
Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic announced today that it has delivered a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Minister Hussen urging the Canadian government to recognize that the United States is not presently a safe country for asylum seekers to obtain refugee protection. The letter is supported by a report that explains how three recent Executive Orders issued by President Trump put asylum seekers in the United States at heightened risk of human rights abuses and removal to countries where they face persecution.
Centre Director Audrey Macklin is among a group of law professors who co-authored an open letter to the Canadian government, signed by 240 colleagues, calling on Canada to halt enforcement of the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. She is one of the Canadian law professors who have issued a media release calling on the Canadian government to halt enforcement of the Safe Third Country Agreement in light of the Harvard report.
by Julius Haag, Centre PhD candidate
On October 14, 2016, the Centre hosted a public forum entitled Race, Policing and Black Lives Matter. The event, organized by Prof. Honor Brabazon of the Centre, brought together a compelling group of presenters, including Marques Banks, from the Black Movement-Law Project, Anthony Morgan, a human rights and public interest lawyer, Prof. Idil Abdillahi, a professor of social work at Ryerson University, and Ravyn Wngz, a member of Black Lives Matter Toronto. The event was moderated by Prof. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah of UTM. The presentations explored the growth and genesis of Black Lives Matter Toronto, the role of law and lawyers in the ongoing struggle for black lives, the crisis of racism and sanism facing black people in Toronto with mental health issues, and the urgent need for continued action to protect black lives and to eradicate anti-blackness in our society.
The presenters illustrated how racialized policing is part of a larger crisis facing racialized people. They demonstrated that the issues currently confronted by black people are not new, but the most recent iteration of centuries of oppression rooted in colonialism and slavery. Rayvn Wngz spoke of the importance of solidarity and collaboration between Black Lives Matter Toronto and other groups facing systemic oppression and marginalization, including Indigenous People in Canada. Anthony Morgan noted that this event took place almost 50 years to the day from the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland, California. He noted that, much like the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter Toronto is a movement founded by young people who are fighting to advance important social justice issues.
The presentations were followed by a lively and engaging question period. The organizers also created a hashtag for the event, #CrimBLMForum, and encouraged participants and attendees to tweet about their experiences and impressions of the event.
MA student Kristina Seefeldt discusses Solitary Confinement in the Ottawa Citizen, in Canada cannot Continue to use Solitary Confinement
PhD Jacqueline Briggs pens a powerful op-ed detailing the Aboriginal Justice Crisis in Canada in the Toronto Star. Shameful Anniversary could spur action on aboriginal justice crisis.
Post-Doctoral Student Natasha Madon and Emeritus Prof Tony Doob author an eye-opening report about The Retention of Women in the Private Practice of Criminal Law that was presented recently at the CLA conference
Prof Kelley Hannah-Moffat discusses the implications of a correctional worker’s strike in the Toronto Star Ontario jail guards’ impending strike threatens prisoner rights: expert
Professor Mariana Valverde gave a keynote speech at the Brazilian Empirical Legal Studies Association Annual Conference entitled : What counts as theory, today? A post-philosophical framework for socio-legal empirical research.
Professor Emeritus Anthony Doob writes on The Harper Decade: The Conservative Take on Crime Policy
Professor Matt Light and former Centre postdoc and CLTA assistant professor Gavin Slade have co-edited a special issue of Theoretical Criminology on crime and criminal justice in the post-Soviet region.
Junior Fellow Kyle Kirkup pens an article in the Globe and Mail titled It’s Unstoppable: Same-sex marriage is coming to the U.S.
PhD candiate Katharina Maier has been awarded one of the Vanier CSG Scholarships for her research project, “Half way to freedom? How female offenders rebuild their lives within the halfway house setting.” Congratulations!
Centre alumnus Nicole Myers’ work on bail with Abby Deshman of the CCLA continues to receive attention. Read the latest about the Reliance on sureties boosting Ontario remand numbers featuring comments by Professor Tony Doob.
Centre Director Kelly Hannah-Moffat gave the 8th Annual Lecture of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research on May 19th in Glasgow, Scotland. The Howard League Scotland posted a write-up of her lecture ‘Moving targets: Reputational risk, rights and accountability in punishment.’ Read it here.
Professors Kelly Hannah-Moffat and Paula Maurutto were cited by The Toronto Star in No charges, no trial, but presumed guilty about the impact of criminal records. They have been working with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to examine how criminal records are being used, by whom and how much information is being disclosed. Read the CCLA’s report ‘False Promises, Hidden Costs’ for more information.
Centre Director Kelly Hannah-Moffat gave the 8th Annual Lecture of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research on May 19th in Glasgow, Scotland. The Howard League Scotland posted a write-up of her lecture ‘Moving targets: Reputational risk, rights and accountability in punishment.’ Read it here
Jim Phillips is the recipient of the 2013 David Walter Mundell Medal. Recognizing Exceptional Legal Writing, the Mundell Medal honours those who have made a distinguished contribution to law and letters. It celebrates great legal writing and recognizes that the artful use of language in the right style has the power to give life to ideas. Jim Phillips is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto with a cross-appointment in the Department of History. He has written extensively in the field of legal history and particularly the history of criminal law in British North America/Canada. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, which is devoted to the promotion of scholarship on the history of Canadian law. Professor Phillips obtained both his PhD in History and his LLB from Dalhousie University. He also clerked for former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Bertha Wilson. Read the News Release.
Professor Matt Light has done field research both in southern Russia and in neighbouring Georgia. In these interviews with journalist Steve Paikin of “The Agenda” on Ontario Public Television, Prof. Light assesses the reasons for, risks to, and consequences of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi. View the recent panel discussion or listen to an interview from a few years ago for more information.
UofT News has published an article on the sex trade panel After Bedford v. Canada: What next for regulating sex work in Canada? that the Centre’s Marianna Valverde and Adiel Weaver helped to organize last month. Read the article or the transcript of the panel discussion.