2019 News

December 31, 2019 by CrimSL Communications

William Watson Receives 2019 Arbor Award

October 29, 2019

Dr. William Watson, Lecturer and Undergraduate Coordinator at CrimSL, is one of this year’s recipients of U of T’s Arbor Award, which recognizes and celebrates the incredible volunteers who consistently contribute to the experience of U of T students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community.

From Woodsworth College’s Award Recipients profile:

For the past 12 years, William has graciously and with great success been the reader at the Woodsworth College convocation ceremonies. He takes this responsibility very seriously and will spend time before each ceremony ensuring that he has the correct pronunciation of each student’s name – students have been known to thank him for ‘pronouncing their name correctly’!

The 2019 Arbor Award ceremony was held on Monday, October 10, 2019.

Call for Papers – International Workshop. Expanding the Penal Landscape: The Immigration Detention Phenomena

April 20-21, 2020

Call for papers

Coordinator: Ana Ballesteros Pena (University of Toronto, Canada & University of A Coruña, Spain)

Scientific Committee: Ana Ballesteros Pena (University of Toronto, Canada & University of A Coruña, Spain), Prof. Mary Bosworth (University of Oxford, United Kingdom), Prof. Jose A. Brandariz (University of A Coruña, Spain), Prof. Elisa García España (University of Malaga, Spain), Prof. Kelly Hannah-Moffat (University of Toronto, Canada) & Prof. Audrey Macklin (University of Toronto, Canada).

Over the last few decades, we have witnessed the proliferation of practices of migration control. These include the creation, reinforcement and development of borders; the multiplication and diversification of practices and spaces of detention; the implementation of different initiatives of supervision and control of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers before detention and after release; the use of violent practices of push-backs, strategies of containment, and spectacles of transporting migrants and asylum seekers; the prosecution of organizations and individuals supporting migrants and asylum seekers; and the amplification of deportation practices. At the same time, both people on the move and the organizations and citizens supporting them have accumulated knowledge and developed strategies to resist, manage, and overcome the aforementioned attempts to constrain human mobility. This multiplicity of practices is being analyzed from within various disciplines including, but not limited to sociology, political science, anthropology, legal geography, criminology, and migration studies.

Some of these analyses have identified the punitive nature of migration enforcement practices but these processes are frequently characterized as outside the field of “punishment”. Scholars such as Hannah-Moffat and Lynch (2012) have pointed to the need to expand “definitional boundaries of the category of ‘punishment’” (Hannah-Moffat and Lynch, 2012: 119). According to them, these boundaries “tend to neglect a number of questions about what constitutes punishment in diverse settings, and are limited in their ability to explain on-the-ground punitive practices, particularly in contexts that challenge traditional understandings of the penal realm” (Hannah-Moffat and Lynch, 2012: 119). In this vein, Bosworth, Franko and Pickering (2018: 35) argue that the term “punishment” should be fundamentally adjusted so as to include the proliferation of “bordered forms of penality” (Bosworth, Franko and Pickering, 2018: 46). Others have studied the racialized, gendered, and (post)colonial character of border and/or migration control and immigration detention (Bosworth, Parmar and Vázquez, 2018).

This international interdisciplinary workshop provides an opportunity to reflect, both conceptually and empirically, on the explosion of penal and punitive forms and consequences of border and migration control practices in the Global North and South.

We seek contributions on the following topics, amongst others:

  • Immigration detention, including pre- and post-detention practices
  • The role of different actors in the immigration detention complex
  • Agency and resistance of different actors involved in detention, supervision, and other forms of border and migration control
  • Border control mechanisms
  • Other exclusionary practices against migrants and asylum seekers
  • Spatial practices of detention, containment and exclusion
  • The impact of gender, race, and (post/neo)colonialism in practices of border control and/or immigration detention
  • Emergent places of detention and containment: informal settlements, hotspots, temporary reception centers and the like.

Confirmed keynote speakers are: Prof. Yolanda Vázquez, Associate Professor of Law, College of Law, University of Cincinnati (United States) and Prof. Leanne Weber, Associate Professor of Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Monash University (Australia).

This interdisciplinary event will be of interest to scholars from criminology, sociology, social policy, law, human geography, anthropology, political science, and psychology. Early career scholars are encouraged to send abstracts. Attendance is free. We have limited funds available to cover travel and accommodation for junior participants outside Canada.

Please email your proposal (250 words maximum) to the coordinator by 23:59pm (GMT-4) on 6 December, 2019 at ana.ballesteros@utoronto.ca.

We aim to publish the papers discussed in this international workshop as a special issue of a journal.  If you are interested in putting your work forward for consideration, please indicate this in your proposal.

Information about acceptance will be sent by 17 January, 2020.

The workshop is part of the European Commission funded project Governmigration: Governing irregular immigration through detention. Discourses and practices from an interdisciplinary approach, under the scientific program Horizon 2020 within Marie Sklowdowska-Curie Actions. It is sponsored jointly by the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto (Canada) and the ECRIM Research Group, Faculty of Law, University of A Coruña (Spain).

Thank you!

Ana Ballesteros


Bosworth, M., Franko, K. and Pickering, S. (2018). Punishment, globalization and migration control: ‘Get them the hell out of here’. Punishment and Society. 20 (1) 34-53.

Bosworth, M. Parmar, A. and Vázquez, Y. (2018). Race, Criminal Justice, and Migration Control: Enforcing the Boundaries of Belonging, Oxford, Oxford Press.

Hannah-Moffat, K. and Lynch, M. (2012). Theorizing punishment’s boundaries: An introduction. Theoretical Criminology 16(2) 119– 121

Welcome, Dr. David Scott!

September 30, 2019

Welcome, Dr. David Scott, who is Visiting Faculty at CrimSL this fall. Dr. Scott is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Open University, UK. His current research interests are focussed on the ethical foundations of penal abolitionism; the historical relationship between penal abolitionism and the politics of social justice; and anti-carceral approaches prisons, punishment and social harms. With Michael Coyle, Dr. Scott is co-editing the International Handbook of Penal Abolition (forthcoming 2020, Routledge) and Contesting Carceral Logic (forthcoming 2021, Routledge).  

Dr. Scott will be participating in a number of events at the Centre, including as commentator at the seminar “From prison democracy to prison bureaucracy: the movement to organize imprisoned labourers in the United States” with speaker Amanda Hughett on Friday, October 4th, 2019. On Octeober 28th, he will present “Prison is not a home: homelessness and the prison as a zone of abandonment” in a lunchtime double-header with Centre postdoc Ana Ballesteros Pena. 


Understanding the Work in Sex Work

September 25, 2019

CrimSL PhD student Andrea Sterling has co-authored a chapter in a new book published by Women’s Press. Working Women in Canada: An Intersectional Approach, edited by Leslie Nichols, “is a relevant and in-depth look into the past, present, and future of women’s responsibilities and professions in Canada.” 

“Understanding the Work in Sex Work: Canadian Contexts,” by Kara Gillies, Elene Lam, Tuulia Law, Rai Reece, Andrea Sterling, and Emily van der Meulen is one of eighteen chapters that “consider Canadian industries across a broad spectrum, including political, academic, sport, sex trade, retail, and entrepreneurial work.” 



CrimSL Professor to Chair Structured Intervention Unit Implementation Advisory Panel

September 10, 2019

Professor Emeritus Tony Doob has been appointed as the chair of a new Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness advisory panel. The Structured Intervention Unit (SIU) Implementation Advisory Panel “will help monitor and assess the implementation of SIUs established by Bill C-83,” provide feedback to the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, and alert the Minister directly about any problems or concerns related to the implementation of the new system. 

Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Actreceived royal assent in June. Provisions of Bill C-83 will eliminate the use of administrative and disciplinary segregation in all federal correctional institutions on November 30 and establish SIUs. “In SIUs, offenders who need to be separated from the mainstream inmate population for safety reasons will have enhanced access to rehabilitative interventions and mental healthcare and meaningful interactions with other people.” 

Professor Doob is quoted in the government press release announcing the panel: “We know from recent debates there are few simple solutions to the complex, multi-dimensional problems of accommodating offenders who need to be separated from the general population. I am pleased to chair this panel that will have a role in advising how structured intervention units might be implemented in a thoughtful, humane fashion.”  

The seven other members of the panel have expertise in fields including forensic psychiatry, human rights, criminal law, correctional operations and the rehabilitation of Indigenous offenders. 

Media coverage: 


Welcome, Professor Laniyonu!

August 12, 2019

A message on behalf of Centre Director Audrey Macklin:

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ayobami Laniyonu, who is CrimSL’s newest faculty member. Dr. Laniyonu joined the Centre as an Assistant Professor in July, having previously served as Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Policing Equity in New York City. Dr. Laniyonu earned his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Political Science in 2018, with a specialization in Racial and Ethnic Politics & Statistical Methodology. 

Dr. Laniyonu’s research interests include criminal justice reform, urban politics, and statistical methodologies, with a particular emphasis on spatial statistics. He is currently working on a series of projects that explore police use of force against the homeless and individuals with serious mental illness, the effect gentrification on eviction rates in large urban areas, and the effect of police violence on political behavior. His past research has been published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law ReviewPolitical Behaviour, the British Journal of Criminology, and more. “Coffee Shops and Street Stops: Policing Practices in Gentrifying Neighborhoods,” published in Urban Affairs in 2017, was the winner of the Law and Society Association’s 2018 Best Graduate Student Paper Prize.  

This year, Dr. Laniyonu will be teaching two undergraduate courses, CRI 390H – Topics in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies: The Politics of the Criminal Justice System and CRI 428H – Neighbourhoods and Crime, as well as CRI 2010H – Methodological Issues in Criminology & Sociolegal Studies at the graduate level. 

To read more about Assistant Professor Ayobami Lanoyonu’s research and publications, check out his faculty profile and his website. He has an office on the second floor of the Canadiana Gallery and can be reached at a.laniyonu@utoronto.ca: please feel encouraged to introduce yourselves and get acquainted. Welcome, Ayo!    

The International Congress of Law and Mental Health

July 30, 2019

The International Congress of Law and Mental Health was held July 21st to 26th in Rome. Representing the Centre were CrimSL professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat, PhD student Jihyun Kwon, post-doctoral fellow Kelly Struthers Montford, and Paula Maurutto, who is cross-appointed from the Department of Sociology. Their research was presented across four sessions: 

“Oversight Capture: The Performance of Accountability and Transparency in the Administrative Segregation Review Process,” by Kelly Struthers Montford, Jihyun Kwon, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, was part of the session Accountability for Disability Violence. 

Abstract: “Various high profile cases and recent reports show the ongoing and excessive use of segregation in Canadian prisons. This is despite the Correctional Services of Canada’s official policy to ‘use the least restrictive measures’ and ‘consider alternatives,’ and despite its establishment of various accountability and oversight measures meant to ensure policy and procedural compliance. This presentation expands the work of Braithwaite and others on regulatory capture to argue that segregation oversight mechanisms—e.g., Segregation Review Boards and mandatory reporting—remain ineffective due to the structural and ideological inseparability of the institutions and the decision-making processes they are meant to regulate. Instead, review processes merely mimic and reproduce a larger penal culture of risk adversity, without providing meaningful opportunities for regulation and oversight. Such measures should be understood as the performance of accountability rather than ensuring fair treatment. This presentation will show that these administrative procedures effectively replace traditional external oversight performed by courts, and thus undermine the transparency of the review process. Because segregation is positioned as an indispensable tool of ‘security’ and ‘safety,’ the presentation will argue that the oversight process further legitimizes its normative and frequent use, rather than serving to curtail and diminish its position as a form of population and institutional management.” 

“Specialized Courts and the Management of Complex and Mental Health Needs,” by Paula Maurutto and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, was part of the session Disability and Criminal In/Justice. 

Abstract: “This presentation will examine innovations in how Canadian courts and community organizations are seeking to address the complex and mental health needs of individuals who come into conflict with the law. These individuals are more vulnerable to detention and arrest and are more likely to be remanded to detention facilities and custody for relatively minor offences. A number of specialized court models, including Community/Wellness, Mental Health, and Gladue (Indigenous) courts have emerged to manage those with mental health and complex needs. Each court has distinct practices for addressing those with complex needs. By comparing the legal processes and the forms of knowledge used across different courts, we observed how different judicial contexts influence understandings of risk and, in turn, how perceptions of risk reciprocally affect the type and management of sanctions for those that present with mental health and complex needs. Using national qualitative interviews from specialized courts, the presentation will examine 1) how courts understand and intervene upon the legal subject with mental health and complex needs, and 2) how legal provisions and community involvement shape court responses. Our data showed how risk and need information is adapted, modified, and tailored to fit within the legal parameters of specialized courts.”   

“Challenges Associated with Administering of Sexual Violence and Anti-Harassment Policies in a University Context,” by Kelly Hannah-Moffat, was part of the session Addressing Sexual Violence on a University Campus. 

Abstract: “Recent high profile sexual assault and other forms of harassment cases and the unifying #Metoo movement have heightened our social awareness of sexual violence in society, and more specifically on university campuses. Most universities have policies that address the various forms of sexual violence and endeavor to produce environments free from sexual and other forms of harassment and violence.  This presentation will examine the nuances of sexual violence policy development, reporting and investigations, and changing legislative requirements in a university context. Some of the themes discussed include: the complexity of administering sexual violence cases on campus; balancing due process with demands for visible accountability by faculty, staff, and students; the difficulties associated with disclosures that do not result in official actionable reports; time limits to reporting; the strengths and weaknesses of workplace cultural reviews in units when there are allegations of a toxic culture and unreported incidents but an absence of willing complainants. This presentation will also explore the issues associated with internal and external investigations. Some of the challenges of identifying remedies and the management of institutional reputational risk will be addressed.” 

“Nuancing Penal Segregation,” by Kelly Hannah-Moffat, was part of the session Administrative Segregation: Policy-Based Evidence or Evidence-Based Policy?   

Abstract: “The practice of solitary confinement/segregation and various forms of restrictive confinement are complex and have been exceedingly criticized, especially as related to prisoners with mental health difficulties. The vast empirical literature documents the damaging effects of segregation and it is the subject of human rights litigation. One Canadian jurisdiction that recently passed legislation has re-defined segregation to include any form of restrictive conferment that exceeds 22 hours and severely limits the use of this practice for mentally ill prisoners. This definition alters and broadens the definition of segregation from a particular type of housing (space) to time in cell. Absent from these important critiques and reforms of segregation is a fulsome discussion of how prisoners use segregation to manage the pains of incarceration, alternatives, and operational challenges of managing an increasingly complex penal population. Acknowledging the harm of segregation, this presentation will situate penal segregation in a wider context of institutional risk management, human rights, and prisoner autonomy.” 

Border Criminologies Blog: Workshop Retrospective

July 2, 2019

Following the Detention practices, criminalization of migrants and border control in Canada  workshop, which ran May 12-13 at CrimSL, Centre Post-Doctoral Fellow Ana Ballesteros Pena and Centre PhD students Grace Tran and Jona Zyfi have published a post on the  Border Criminologies blog. Based at the Centre for Criminology within the University of Oxford Faculty of Law, Border Criminologies is an international network of researchers, practitioners, and those who have experienced border control.

Read their full text here

The ECRIM Research Group, University of A Coruña, Spain, has also published an overview of the workshop.

CLSA Article Prize

June 17, 2019

CrimSL PhD student Andrea Sterling and Dr. Emily van der Meulen (Ryerson University) have won an honourable mention for the Canadian Law and Society Association (CSLA)’s 2019 CSLA Article Prize, awarded each year for the best article published in the Canadian Journal of Law & Society.

We Are Not Criminals”: Sex Work Clients in Canada and the Constitution of Risk Knowledge” by Andrea Sterling and Emily van der Meulen was published in Canadian Journal of Law & Society Volume 33, Issue 3.


While Canada has long criminalized aspects of sex work, the specific act of purchasing sexual services was not against the law per se. In 2014, however, the then Conservative government implemented new legislation targeting sex work clients. Given the criminalization and persistent stigmatization of their activities, assessing clients’ changing actions, perceptions, and knowledge of the new legislation is challenging. We thus turned to a major Canadian online sex work review forum to examine postings on forum threads. This paper examines the risk knowledge practices in which clients engage as they try to make sense of the modified legal regime and avoid new legal risks. Our findings illuminate clients’ varied understandings of their own criminalization.

Law & Society Association International Prize 2019

June 5, 2019

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, CrimSL colleague and Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity, is this year’s winner of the International Prize.  Kelly’s nominators highlighted the unusual quality and originality of her work, and praised “her ability to speak to interdisciplinary audiences, particularly those that bridge law and society and criminology”. Kelly’s work on risk in criminal law and criminal justice developed originally in the context of research on imprisonment, but has recently expanded into research on specialized courts, and even more recently into uses of ‘big data’ and algorithms. Berkeley’s Jonathan Simon, described Kelly as “the pre-eminent scholar on risk and the law”.

Although Kelly’s work is often theoretical, she participates actively in policy discussions on women’s imprisonment and other issues, and is regularly asked to speak at workshops for judges and similar events. She directly engages with the practitioners who have devised the risk assessment tools that she has done much to scrutinize, and her work has been influential outside Canada and especially in the UK.  She is a worthy winner of the LSA’s International Prize.

Kelly and Mariana Valverde were presented with the International Prize and the Ronald Pipkin Service Award, respectively, on May 29th at the LSA 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.

Detention practices, criminalization of migrants and border control in Canada

May 22, 2019

On Sunday, May 12 and Monday, May 13, academics from across Canada and beyond gathered at CrimSL for a two-day workshop organized with ecrim, the Research group on Criminology, Legal Psychology and Criminal Justice in the 21st century at the University of A Coruña, Spain.

The workshop, “Detention practices, criminalization of migrants and border control in Canada” was part of a European Commission funded project under the scientific program Horizon 2020 within Marie Sklowdowska-Curie Actions, Governmigration: Governing irregular migration through detention. Discourses and practices from an interdisciplinary approach.

Participants included CrimSL director Audrey Macklin, who presented “State of containment,” and Centre alumna Sarah Turnbull (Birkbeck, University of London), who presented “Beyond detention: Detainability, deportability, and precarity in the community.” Moderators included Professors Macklin and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, PhD student Jona Zyfi, and postdoctoral fellow Ana Ballesteros Pena.

The event was coordinated by Ana Ballesteros Pena, with the help of PhD students Fernando Avila, Daniel Konikoff, Grace Tran, and Jona Zyfi.

For highlights from the two day event, check out the Day 1 roundupDay 2 roundup, and #governmigration on Twitter.


Big Data and Criminal Justice – What Canadians Need to Know

May 21, 2019

“Every Google search, credit card purchase, social media interaction, and doctor’s visit leave traces of information about you, where you’ve been, who you’ve interacted with, and what you like. What’s more, advertisers, data brokers, and government agencies can collect and analyze the digital breadcrumbs you leave behind as you go about your day. Welcome to the world of ‘big data.’”

The Broadbent Institute has published a new report by CrimSL PhD student Daniel Konikoff and Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bembah—CrimSL PhD Grad, instructor and cross-appointed faculty at the Centre, and Broadbent Policy Fellow. In Big Data and Criminal Justice – What Canadians Need to Know, Konikoff and Owusu-Bempa “outline what ‘big data’ is, how it is used in the context of criminal justice in Canada and beyond, and how we might think about the potential beneficial and detrimental effects of these technologies on our society.”

Full report (11 pages, PDF)


Fieldwork meets friendship: undergrads travel to Mexico to research organized crime and corruption

May 7, 2019
By Jovana Jankovic – A&S News

Mexico may be a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful landscapes and rich history, but a group of undergraduate students recently visited for a very different reason: to learn about organized crime, corruption, drug cartels and the massive “narco-insurgency” that large-scale criminal organizations are waging against the Mexican state.

As part of the Faculty of Arts & Science’s International/Indigenous Course Modules  (ICM) program, students from the fourth-year undergraduate course on organized crime and corruption traveled to Mexico City to meet with Mexican scholars, students, government officials and civil society activists to learn how organized crime groups develop and how states are combatting the violence and corruption these groups provoke.

Associate Professor Matthew Light of the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies developed this innovative course, the first of its kind at U of T. He believes contemporary Mexico is an excellent practical illustration of the theoretical and historical concepts he presents to his students, so an experiential learning opportunity seemed like the perfect fit for his course material.

Read the full article on the Arts & Science website


The Ronald Pipkin Service Award

May 7, 2019

Professor Mariana Valverde is the 2019 recipient of the Ronald Pipkin Service Award, in recognition of her incredible work as Program Chair at last year’s LSA meeting in Toronto. 

The Ronald Pipkin Service Award is “awarded annually to a Law and Society Association member who has demonstrated sustained and extraordinary service to the Association.”


“A Quality that is Very Rare to Find” CrimSL MA Student Recognized by the CULJP

April 23, 2019

CrimSL MA student Gihad Nasr has won an honourable mention for the Consortium for Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs (CULJP)’s 2019 Best Undergraduate Student Paper Award for the undergraduate research paper “Carceral Space” that she wrote at UTM in 2017-2018.

The selection committee noted that “This was an excellent undergraduate research paper of a quality that is very rare to find in a stand-alone undergraduate course.”

Nasr wrote a blog post for the Peel Social Lab’s blog, Peel Urbanscapes, describing her research and findings.

The Undergraduate Student Paper Award is reviewed by senior law and society scholars and recognizes primary research, secondary research, archival/historical research, and theoretical approaches. Nasr’s paper was nominated by Professor Sida Liu.


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

On Wednesday, March 27, CrimSLProfessor Scot Wortley presented his report on police street checks in Halifax prepared for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

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)

Media coverage
The list below will be updated as coverage continues:

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:

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:

On the question of police apology:

Community meetings

Former chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Michael MacDonald, to examine legality of Halifax street checks

Halifax Police to purge 14 years of street check data by 2020

New Halifax Police Chief

Halifax police commissioners to consider asking for plans to address street checks

Nova Scotia to ban police street checks after jurist finds they are illegal

Halifax police chief to apologize to Black citizens for racial bias in policing

Halifax police apologize to Black community for street checks

End-of-year coverage

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). The meeting transcript is also available.

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.

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.

From TEDx: 

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.