It Begins With The Police

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By Jeannette Tossounian

November 2, 2018

Okay, maybe it actually begins with politicians, as we often hear announcements to reform criminal justice legislation to modernize and make it all more efficient. Apparently all this reform is supposed to be fair to those sucked into the system, but all it really serves is to quickly digest citizens unnecessarily caught in the criminal justice system, in order to make more room to stuff even more unsuspecting people in. Chew them up; spit them out; repeat. However, to the individual who gets fed to the beastly Canadian injustice system, it all starts with the arrest.

I should know, not only have I been to jail, but I also have been wrongfully arrested with a conviction that took me years to overturn. I am unfortunately aware that numerous everyday Canadians find themselves in the same trap, but won’t fight, keeping it all hush hush wishing one day, that unjust experience they got stuck with will just go away and hopefully no one will find out. Unfortunately, the reality is if the police got you once, even on something you didn’t do, you are now in the system and that system will not let you be.

Absolutely all of the criminal justice problems – be it courts, jails, probation, mental health – could be solved if we only focus on arresting the small percent of serious dangerous people and use resources concentrated on those few. Instead, we give guns and tasers to a bunch of militarized trained killers, who are conditioned to forcefully arrest anyone who are behaving in a way that the system does not approve of whether an actual crime was committed or not.

If you listen to those stuck within the injustice system on the never ending revolving door ride in and out of jail, it pretty much starts with the arrest.

We are putting weapons and armour certain people and telling them to control other people, knowing they could use any power and force without consequence. When their force destroys the lives of others for very little reason, they still have jobs, feed their families, pay their bills. We have to make police accountable to the abuse on citizens, so they stop the abuse. Stop policing people. People should be free to be in control of their own lives.

Many people who have been arrested knows when the police show up, the police automatically accelerate the situation, usually causing people who are trying to defend themselves to do things like obstruct so-called justice and the police just keep using more and more force knowing it has no effect on them. This has become such a problem that the Ontario ombudsman had to write up new ways to tell police to actually de-escalate situations because they are putting people in danger in a 2016 report called ‘A Matter of Life and Death.’ Still, the police continue to arrest, electrocute (tase) and kill anyone and anybody and believe that that is their actual job. Today it seems the role of the police is not to protect but to hurt the very citizens who pay their taxes to pay for this service.

So in the end, you just got one big huge messed up system snowballing and sucking everything in its path. If you want to really fix the system – the courts, the jails, society – the only way to stop it is to nip it in the bud, start where it all starts and it starts with the police

This picture I paint is about the treatment of people and the resolving of disputes. It is about bringing back hope and dignity to everyone. Instead of eating people alive, let’s nourish people, so we can grow. Let’s start anew, and wipe away unnecessary laws and take the burdens of the system off the people so they could live content, meaningful lives.

It begins with the police.

  • Jeannette Tossounian is the author of three books written about the criminal justice system from inside her former jail cell and now published by Ankle Bone Books.

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