Discussion Group Topics

Bill Schrader Pavilion, 12 Noon, 1 April, 2015

A – This long article examines Norway’s successful prison system centred on two core values: no prison escapes, and rehabilitation.  Norway spends $93 K per prisoner per year versus $31K in the US, but if the US achieved their short prison terms and low recidivism rates at Norway’s cost they would save $45 B a year.  This is a mind changing article, so lets read it and discuss weather it could work here.

B –  My favourite reporter has another take on misdemeanour fines like traffic fines in the US.  You don’t go to jail for any of these offences unless you can’t pay the fine.  Once in jail you incur all sorts of fees – like the cost of your meals.  This is in spite of a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that judges must assess ability to pay, and only jail those who can pay, but refuse.  Lastly, the cost of jailing is often more than the fine.  More and more states have issued judges with a card outlining the steps they must take before jailing a poor person and jail rates are falling.  Can this prevent Ferguson’s?

C –A detailed assessment of Alberta’s adjustment to low oil prices will not amuse many Albertans.  Do you expect their bad luck to be shared by other provinces?

D – Old timers here remember carefully arranged trips up north to stock up on things not sold here.  Some of us still do, but it is more a matter of price than absolute unavailability.  Do you still bring back stuff from up north?

E – In 2000, Arizona voters approved the creation of an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries, replacing the state legislature.  The legislature does not like the results and the case is now before the Supreme Court which is close to a decision.  How would you rule, and why?  Should the Supreme Court only interpret the constitution?

F – The California draught may not get better.  Wiki’s data says 50% is used by the bears, fish, and chipmunks, 40% by agriculture, and 10 for urban residential uses.  Each of these groups has a certain amount of political power, so who will sacrifice the most?  Should Canada convert the Keystone Pipeline from oil to water?