How the Wedding Cake Crumbles
April 10, 2019
On April 4th, CrimSL PhD student Grace Tran presented “‘How the Wedding Cake Crumbles’: Negotiations of Marriage, Sex, and Intimacy along the Canadian Border” at NYU’s Sexuality and Borders Symposium as part of the Reproductive Justice, Marriage and Transnational Kinship panel.
In 2011, the Harper administration launched a nationwide, tough-on-marriage-fraud campaign with the intention of ‘cracking down’ on instances of fraudulent marriage Canada. This campaign echoes the salient trend of regulating and surveilling state borders in the name of national security. Against this changing policy landscape, my research presents the first detailed study of how immigrants present themselves to Canadian state authorities when regularizing their legal status through marriage, by undertaking the first in-depth, descriptive empirical account of individuals who have knowingly and willingly participated in what the Canadian government would consider ‘marriage fraud.’ I explore the ways in which citizenship and declarations of “love” at the border unfold along gendered, racialized lines by considering the following questions: How do participants in ‘marriage fraud’ understand their strategies, decisions, goals, and motivations for participating in these arrangements? How do these actors navigate difficult situations that require nuanced performances of ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ love, desire, and intimacy, such as weddings, tea ceremonies, and honeymoon nights? How does undergoing the Canadian spousal sponsorship process affect individuals’ understandings of self, love, marriage, and intimacy?
Drawing on preliminary interviews with participants from the Vietnamese-Canadian community who have participated in dam cuoi gia (‘fake weddings’) as marriage brokers and as sponsors, this paper documents the experiences of those directly affected by the concept of ‘marriage fraud’ to shed light on the ways in which love, marriage, and intimacy are sustained, negotiated, and reproduced along state borders during a time of intensified border control. I argue that before, during, and even long after undergoing the immigration application process, participants’ interactions with a voyeuristic Canadian immigration system trigger persisting and complex transformative effects that they must constantly negotiate; this, in turn, shapes actors’ identities and understandings of what it means to engage in an act deemed criminal by the government, to be part of an ‘authentic’ marriage, to engage in intimacy, to be part of a ‘family’ unit, and to belong (or not belong) in Canada. My paper aims to provide valuable insights into how nation-state sovereignty is negotiated at the border, how the construct of a ‘real’ as opposed to ‘fraudulent’ marriage affects transnational couples, and how marriage decisions shape the lives of all parties involved, including the couple and the state charged with policing and surveilling the legitimacy of their relationship.
W5: The Narco Riviera
April 1, 2019
CrimSL PhD student Valentin Pereda was interviewed for new W5 documentary on the rising problem of organized crime in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The full documentary is available on YouTube.
“These organizations have tried not to hurt tourists,” says Pereda in a Toronto Star piece accompanying the documentary. “But they don’t really care that much when it comes to using violence. If a tourist gets caught in the crossfire, they’re not going to care.”
CrimSL at #ISA2019
March 28, 2019
On Wednesday, March 27, CrimSL PhD student Grace Tran presented her research on the legal regulation of marriage and policing of marriage fraud at the International Studies’ Association 60th Annual Meeting in Toronto.
“What’s Love Got to Do with It: Presentations and Negotiations of ‘Real’ and ‘Authentic’ Marriages Along and Beyond the Canadian Border” was part of the 21st Century Concerns ISA Poster Gallery.
Halifax Street Checks Report
March 27, 2019
The research included analysis of 12 years of data from Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP, community consultative meetings, interviews with police and community representatives, and an online survey. The report culminates in a series of recommendations for removing or regulating the practice of street checks, implementing data collection on all police stops (of which street checks are just a small fraction), and improving police-community relations.
“The research clearly demonstrates that police street check practices have had a disproportionate and negative impact on the African Nova Scotian community,” says Dr. Wortley in a press release from the NSHRC. “Street checks have contributed to the criminalization of black youth, eroded trust in law enforcement and undermined the perceived legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system.
“Concrete action is required. I hope this report can make a difference and lead to a stronger, more trusting relationship between the police and the community”
Full report (186 pages, PDF)
The list below will be updated as coverage continues:
- The Star Halifax
- The Chronicle Herald (+ editorial)
- The Globe and Mail
- CTV News (The Canadian Press)
- CTV News (TV interview with Prof. Wortley)
- CBC News
- CBC News (interview with Anthony Morgan)
- Radio Canada International
- La Presse
- Ici Nouvelle-Écosse, Radio Canada
- The Coast
- Halifax Today
Coverage of the directive by Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Mark Furey, to stop using street checks in association with quotas, announced on March 28th in response to the report:
- CBC News
- CTV News
- Global News
- The Chronicle Herald
- The Star Halifax (March 28)
- The Star Halifax (April 1)
Ongoing coverage of reactions to the report:
Halifax police board votes to suspend street checks
Nova Scotia places moratorium on the use of street checks:
Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field
March 26, 2019
CrimSL Professor Mariana Valverde has authored a chapter in a new book published by University of Minnesota Press. Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field, edited by Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouché, and Hila Shamir,
“[A]masses nineteen chapters from leading feminist scholars and activists to critically describe and assess contemporary feminist engagements with state and state-like power. Providing a clear, cross-cutting, critical lens to map developments in feminist governance around the world, the book makes sense of the costs and benefits of current feminist realities to reimagine feminist futures.”
Professor Valverde’s chapter, “From Bad to Worse Via a Successful Constitutional Challenge: The Tragedy of Feminist Engagement with Prostitution Law Reform in Canada” is a sobering article on prostitution reform in Canada.
Other contributors include: Libby Adler (Northeastern University), Aziza Ahmed Northeastern University, Elizabeth Bernstein (Barnard College), Amy J. Cohen Ohio State University), Karen Engle (University of Texas at Austin), Jacob Gersen (Harvard University), Leigh Goodmark (University of Maryland), Aeyal Gross (Tel Aviv University), Aya Gruber (University of Colorado, Boulder), Janet Halley (Harvard University), Rema Hammami (Birzeit University, Palestine), Vanja Hamzić (University of London), Isabel Cristina Jaramillo-Sierra, Prabha Kotiswaran (King’s College London), Maleiha Malik (King’s College London), Vasuki Nesiah (New York University), Dianne Otto (Melbourne Law School), Helen Reece; Darren Rosenblum (Pace University), Jeannie Suk Gersen (Harvard University)
Advocacy and Groundbreaking Research: Audrey Macklin Recognized
March 15, 2019
Citing her “decades-long efforts to champion the legal rights of people on the margins,” CrimSL Director Audrey Macklin is one of the winners of the 2019 U of T Alumni Association Awards of Excellence, presented to UofT’s most outstanding faculty, staff and student leaders.
From the awards profile:
“Former child soldier Omar Khadr owes his freedom to many people, and one of the most important is U of T Law professor Audrey Macklin. Her pro bono work on Khadr’s behalf is perhaps the most public example of her decades-long efforts to champion the legal rights of people on the margins, [emphasis in original] especially migrants and refugees.
“The Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize honours both her advocacy and her groundbreaking research. Holder of the Chair in Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, Macklin was one of the first academics to write about issues such as foreign live-in caregivers, and the links between human rights and the mining and oil industries.”
Borders and Barriers: The 2019 Graduate Student Conference
March 14, 2019
On Friday, March 8, students from universities across Canada gathered at CrimSL for the annual graduate student conference.
This year’s conference, Borders and Barriers: Understanding Criminalization and Challenges to Human Rights, provided a venue for emerging scholars to “critically understand, rethink, and reconcile our common conceptualization of borders … to explore not only the human rights barriers they erect through policy and practice, but also their dire consequences on individuals and societies at a global, humanistic level.”
As Professor Matthew Light noted in his opening remarks, this kind of event is very important for anyone planning a scholarly career. The graduate conference provides graduate students an opportunity to present their academic research in an interdisciplinary context and network with others doing work on related issues.
Graduate students from across a range of fields including criminology, law, sociology, and information shared research on legislation and policy, migration and asylum, spatiality, prison re-entry, and more. The presentations included work at different stages of the research process, and each of the three sessions was followed by lively discussion and thoughtful feedback from the audience.
Congratulations to the conference organizers—CrimSL PhD students Daniel Konikoff, Kadija Lodge-Tulloch, and Jona Zyfi—and volunteers on the success of the conference.
Check out conference highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #crimGSC
CBC Docs POV: Year of the Gun
March 13, 2019
CrimSL PhD student Adam Ellis appears in CBC Docs POV’s Year of the Gun, a recent documentary produced and directed by Marc de Guerre. The full documentary is available within Canada on the CBC website and CBC Gem.
Adam Ellis at the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
February 22, 2019
On February 18th, CrimSL PhD student Adam Ellis presented to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, which is studying Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms.
In his presentation, Ellis shares the story of his own experience with gangs and argues that while restrictions on legal guns would reduce violence, “this cannot be the only piece.” Rather, he says, “we must seek to understand how broader social contexts such as systemic racism, marginalization and patriarchy may fuel the gun violence that takes place at the community level.”
Ellis also describes his research on trauma, PTSD and gang violence, and describes his current work with former gang leaders turned PhDs in a coalition known as Thug Criminology, investigating “issues such as gun crime, including how guns are moving across the border, who is involved in their transportation and why these operations take place.”
Bill C-71 passed third reading in the House of Commons on September 24, 2018, and was referred to the committee Standing Senate Committee on National Security at second reading in the Senate on December 11. Adam Ellis’ full presentation to the Senate committee is available as video (timestamp 16:23:43 – 16:28:27; Q&A timestamp 16:36:46 – 17:21:30). A link to the meeting transcript will be added when it becomes available on the committee webpage.
New Research in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society
February 22, 2019
Have you checked out the latest print issue of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society (vol. 33, no. 3)?
CrimSL PhD student Andrea Sterling is first author the lead article, “We Are Not Criminals”: Sex Work Clients in Canada and the Constitution of Risk Knowledge” by Andrea Sterling and Emily van der Meulen
Also in the issue is an article co-authored by PhD grad Anna Pratt (Associate Professor, Criminology at York University) and MA grad Jessica Templeman, who is now doing her PhD at York: “Jurisdiction, Sovereignties and Akwesasne: Shiprider and the Re-Crafting of Canada-US Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement” by Anna C. Pratt and Jessica Templeman
CrimSL at #WSC2019
February 13, 2019
Last week, CrimSL PhD students Jessica Bundy and Kadija Lodge-Tulloch, CrimSL professor Scot Wortley, and Julian Tanner (U of T Sociology) traveled to Honolulu, Hawai’i for the 2019 conference of the Western Society of Criminology.
In the Youth and Crime panel, Jessica Bundy, Julian Tanner, Kadija Lodge-Tulloch, and Scot Wortley presented “Speak No Evil: Why Youth Fail to Report Crime to the Police”
Abstract: Over the past decade, police services across North America have noticed a decline in youth reporting of violent crime and willingness to cooperate with investigations. Some have identified this trend as part of a new “no snitching” culture. To what extent do young people report violent crime to the police? Why do youth decide not to cooperate with police? This paper examines these questions with data from a Toronto survey of 500 youth (15-24 years old) residing in economically disadvantaged, high crime communities. The results suggest that most youth respondents have either experienced or witnessed a violent crime, and that they did not report these incidents. Respondents provide multiple justifications for their noncompliance. Common themes include: fear of the offender, distrust of the police, perceptions of police ineffectiveness, and a desire not to be labelled a snitch. In general, the results suggest that youth feel that the potential costs of reporting violence outweigh the potential benefits and thus decide to remain silent. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
In a second panel, Race and Policing, Jessica Bundy, Julian Tanner, and Scot Wortley presented “Race, Street Checks and Police Legitimacy: Results from Two Canadian Studies”
Abstract: This paper will present results from two Canadian research projects examining the extent and impact of police stop, question and frisk tactics among youth. The first study, conducted by the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, involves a survey of 264 youth from three cities in British Columbia. The second study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Toronto, involves a survey of 500 youth from Ontario. The quantitative findings reveal that Indigenous youth from British Columbia – and Black youth from Ontario – are much more likely to be stopped, questioned and searched by the police than white youth. These racial differences remain significant after controlling for other theoretically relevant variables. An examination of qualitative data from both studies further reveals how police “street checks” can undermine trust in the police, especially within minority communities. Low levels of trust, in turn, decrease the likelihood that youth will report crime and cooperate with police investigations. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
Photograph from Jessica Bundy
TEDxToronto: The Untapped Promise of Cannabis Legalization
January 28, 2019
“I’m going to start by telling you a story of two young men.”
Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a CrimSL PhD graduate who now teaches at the Centre as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at UTM, gave a talk on The Untapped Promise of Cannabis Legalization at the TEDxToronto conference in October.
Cannabis legalization is spreading across the globe. In this visionary talk, criminologist Akwasi Owusu-Bempah shares his insights on the people who have been most impacted by drug prohibition and explains how the economic benefits of legalization can be used to promote positive social change. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. His work focuses on the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular interest in the area of policing. Akwasi is now studying various aspects of cannabis legalization in Canada. His current projects include a study of Black males’ perceptions of and experiences with the police in Greater Toronto Area.
Interview With Mariana Valverde: Quayside Toronto
January 11, 2019
Professor Mariana Valverde was recently interviewed by Dr. Peter Carr of the University of Waterloo. Dr. Carr writes:
This interview discusses the Sidewalk Labs / Waterfront Toronto Smart City project and focuses particularly on the governance aspects of the project. Mariana argues that the existing governance arrangements for project governance, control of the data that it gathers and protections for privacy of residents and other users of the new community are inadequate and require urgent attention.
While believing that information technology can be applied in positive ways for improving the lives of people in cities, Mariana questions whether Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs are an appropriate partner for Waterfront Toronto’s efforts to create a Smart City community.
December 17, 2018
Dr. Philip Girard, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School who has been a Visiting Professor here at CrimSL for the last year and a half, and Dr. Jim Phillips, cross-appointed to CrimSL from U of T Faculty of Law and a former director the Centre, have recently published a book with Dr. R. Blake Brown, a professor in the Department of History and Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s University. A History of Law in Canada, Vol. 1: Beginnings to 1866 was published by University of Toronto Press this November, and will be available as an ebook later this week.
From the publisher:
This book is the first of two volumes devoted to the history of law in Canada. This volume begins at a time just prior to European contact and continues to the 1860s, while volume two will start with Confederation and end at approximately 2000. The history of law includes substantive law, legal institutions, legal actors and legal culture. The book assumes that since 1500 there have been three legal systems in Canada – the Indigenous, the French, and the English. At all times, these systems have co-existed and interacted, with the relative power and influence of each being more or less dominant in different periods.
The history of law cannot be treated in isolation, and this book examines law as a dynamic process, shaped by and affecting other histories over the long term. The law guided and was guided by economic developments, was influenced and moulded by the nature and trajectory of political ideas and institutions, and variously exacerbated and mediated by inter-cultural exchange and conflict. These themes are apparent in this examination, and through most areas of law including family law, constitutional, commercial, land settlement and tenure, and criminal.
December 13, 2018
On Monday, December 10th, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released an interim report on race and policing. “A Collective Impact: Interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service” includes as one of its section the Wortley Report, a preliminary report by CrimSL Professor Scot Wortley, which provides a preliminary analysis of police use of force cases investigated by the Government of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
From the Wortley Report’s introduction:
The study is designed to address the following five research questions with respect to the TPS:
- To what extent are Black people represented in police use of force incidents?
- To what extent are Black people represented in police use of force cases – including police shootings?
- To what extent do cases involving Black civilians differ from cases involving civilians from other racial groups?
- What proportion of SIU investigations result in criminal charges against police officers?
- What proportion of SIU cases experience problems with police cooperation?
There has been extensive coverage of the OHRC report in local, national, and international media. Professor Wortley, CrimSL PhD grad and instructor Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, and PhD student Julius Haag have made television, radio, and print appearances regarding the report. The list below will be updated as coverage continues:
December 12, 2018
Professor Mariana Valverde has published a series of blog posts for Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression on Waterfront Toronto, Google’s Sidewalk Labs, and the development of Toronto’s Quayside district:
[Note: List to be updated as series progresses]
December 3rd, 2018: “Mystery on the Waterfront: How the “Smart City” Allure Led a Major Public Agency in Toronto Into a Reckless Deal with Big Tech” cowritten with Alexandra Flynn
December 7th, 2018: “The waterfront toronto crisis: what are the options?” cowritten with Nabeel Ahmed
January 14th, 2019: “What Is a Data Trust and Why Are We Even Talking About It? Sidewalk Labs’ Magic Tricks”
February 19, 2019: “Toronto’s Leadership Dithers While Sidewalk Labs Plans City Revenue Grab”
November 27, 2018
CrimSL Professor Mariana Valverde has authored a chapter in a new book published today by University of Ottawa Press. Law and the “Sharing Economy” Regulating Online Market Platforms, edited by Derek McKee, Finn Makela, and Teresa Scassa, looks at the so-called “sharing economy” and the regulation of the technological platforms on which it operates.
Professor Valverde’s chapter, “Urban Cowboy E-Capitalism Meets Dysfunctional Municipal Policy-Making: What the Uber Story Tells Us about Canadian Local Governance” looks at Canadian cities and the challenges of regulating Uber:
When Uber began operating in Canadian cities without first seeking approval from municipal licensing authorities, and taxi drivers started to protest in large numbers, municipal authorities were faced with an unprecedented law-breaking situation. Some mayors, such as Toronto’s John Tory, responded not by defending municipal regulation but by praising ‘innovation’. This article looks at how Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal dealt with the regulatory crisis posed by Uber. It concludes that only provincial governments have both the legal powers and the political muscle to develop ride-sharing company regulations that simultaneously protect the public interest, drivers’ economic wellbeing, and the licenced taxi industry.
Other contributors include: Harry Arthurs (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University), Francesco Ducci (University of Toronto Faculty of Law), Gautrais Vincent (Université de Montréal Faculty of Law), Sabrina Tremblay-Huet (Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Law), Michael Geist (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law), Marie-Cecile Escande Varniol (Université Lumière Lyon 2), Eric Tucker (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University), and Nofar Sheffi (University of New South Wales Law).
From the publisher:
Controversy shrouds sharing economy platforms. It stems partially from the platforms’ economic impact, which is felt most acutely in certain sectors: Uber drivers compete with taxi drivers; Airbnb hosts compete with hotels. Other consequences lie elsewhere: Uber is associated with a trend toward low-paying, precarious work, whereas Airbnb is accused of exacerbating real estate speculation and raising the cost of long-term rental housing.
While governments in some jurisdictions have attempted to rein in the platforms, technology has enabled such companies to bypass conventional regulatory categories, generating accusations of “unfair competition” as well as debates about the merits of existing regulatory regimes. Indeed, the platforms blur a number of familiar distinctions, including personal versus commercial activity; infrastructure versus content; contractual autonomy versus hierarchical control. These ambiguities can stymie legal regimes that rely on these distinctions as organizing principles, including those relating to labour, competition, tax, insurance, information, the prohibition of discrimination, as well as specialized sectoral regulation.
This book is organized around five themes: technologies of regulation; regulating technology; the sites of regulation (local to global); regulating markets; and regulating labour. Together, the chapters offer a rich variety of insights on the regulation of the sharing economy, both in terms of the traditional areas of law they bring to bear, and the theoretical perspectives that inform their analysis.
November 20, 2018
“We are calling upon Canadians to ask themselves what kind of country they want to leave for their children and grandchildren.”
On Monday, November 19th, CrimSL hosted Senator Murray Sinclair, who delivered the 20th John Ll. J. Edwards Lecture. The enthusiasm was overwhelming. The Hart House Debates Room was filled to capacity, and the lecture was watched live via webcast by even more attendees in the Music Room. It is a testament to the stature and achievements of Senator Sinclair that so many people wished to attend.
The evening began with a drum song from Jenny Blackbird, a multidisciplinary artist, hand drummer, singer, fashion designer, and jingle dress dancer affiliated with the University of Toronto Centre for Indigenous Studies. After a welcome from CrimSL Director Audrey Macklin, Senator Sinclair was introduced by poet and author Lee Maracle, an Indigenous Elder and instructor at the Centre for Indigenous Studies and mentor to Indigenous students at U of T. Detailing Senator Sinclair’s many roles and accomplishments over the course of his career, she highlighted his role in creating an impetus to action among Canadians: “The Senator didn’t make recommendations, he made ninety-four calls to action. Pick one and do it.”
In his lecture, titled “The Accidental Jurist: Thoughts on a life in the law,” Senator Sinclair spoke about his childhood and the effects that residential schools had on his family members and that public schools had on him. As an illustration, he shared the video “Perfect Crime” by Aaron Peters. Senator Sinclair noted that, of his childhood peers, he was the only one who graduated high school and went to university, which left him asking “why are things like this?” He went to law school to become a politician and change things.
Senator Sinclair shared reflections on significant moments in his career: realizing, after a workshop with Elders following the repatriation of the Canadian constitution, that he needed to “set out on my journey to learn what it means to be Anishinaabe”; speaking with a man he had once sent to prison, who said that he worked to instill in his son that “It does not have to be like this for you.”
Senator Sinclair ended with a discussion of the importance of respect. “In reconciliation, we need to find a way to build a relationship that is founded on respect,” he said. “We are not there yet. Reconciliation will take us a while because it took us a while to build this relationship built on disrespect. It will take us a while because it is a long time coming.”
“Reconciliation is not going to happen so long as one side believes that it is about rights and the other side believes that it is about benevolence. It has to be more. We have to be more than kind.”
Named after the founder of the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, John Ll. J. Edwards, this is an annual public lecture on issues related to criminal law, crime, policing, punishment, and security sponsored by the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, the UofT Faculty of Law, and Woodsworth College.
Photo caption: Senator Murray Sinclair receives a standing ovation at the end of the 2018 Edwards lecture
November 20, 2018
This November, CrimSL faculty, students and alumni traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2018 American Society of Criminology meeting. They presented research, chaired sessions, and participated in roundtables. Here is a sampling of where they appeared:
PhD student Alex Luscombe and PhD grad Akwasi Owusu-Bempah presented “Race, Cannabis and the Canadian War on Drugs: An Examination of Cannabis Arrest Data by Race in Six Major Cities” in the session “A New Era of Policing? New Technologies, New Methods, Old Victims.”
PhD student Adam Ellis presented “My Life in ‘Urban War’: Exploring Trauma, PTSD and Gang Violence through the Lens of a Former-Street Soldier” in the session Marginalization, Strain, and Mental Health in Life-Course Criminology.” He also chaired the roundtable “Researcher, Expert, and/or Spectacle? Insider/Outsider Academics and the Advancement of Thug Criminology,” where CrimSL Professor Scot Wortley was a discussant.
PhD student Dikla Yogev chaired the roundtable “Police Legitimacy and Crime Reporting” and also presented the paper “The complexity of police legitimacy.”
PhD grad Katharina Maier presented “On the Outside: The Day of Release from Prison” in the session “Comparative Perspectives on Prisoner Reentry” and chaired the session “Employment & the Reentry Process.”
In the session “Race and Policing,” Professor Wortley and PhD student Julius Haag presented “The Impact of Police-Citizen Encounters on Perceptions of Justice: Lived Experiences of Youth in Toronto, ON.”
Photo caption: Julius Haag presents at ASC 2018. Photograph by Derek Silva.
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.
Photograph from Julius Haag.
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 candidate 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.