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Newsstand: January 20, 2014

Back on the grind again. Real case of the Mondays today, huh? Or is it a case of the ... days? Every day? Anyway, here's some news: Kingston pioneers a possible cure for pothole woes, a man who killed a cop two years ago is doing well in psychiatric treatment, and Canada's second-largest and brand-new detention centre is empty for reasons we don't have full access to.

matt newsstand bikelane

“Asphalt literature” is an uncommon phrase but it’s got a ring to it, doesn’t it? The reason for the phrase is that Kingston may have cracked (pun, sorry) the code on crack-free streets. According to Kingston’s Simon Hesp, the use of engine oil and similar adulterants cause many of the cracks and potholes that vex city-dwellers, and five years into implementing his suggestions, Kingston remains pothole-free. The research behind his “breakthrough” in asphalt technology has been around since 1936, according to Hesp, but city managers have been unwilling to institute the strict standards for asphalt materials that he advocates.

Richard Kachkar, who killed Toronto Sgt. Ryan Russell in January 2011 but was found not criminally responsible last year for Russell’s death, has been showing improvements since beginning psychiatric treatment. Kachkar was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and has been “fully compliant” with treatment since the verdict, according to the Globe and Mail‘s story. Because of his compliance and positive results, the Ontario Review Board recently ruled that Kachkar should be allowed to occasionally leave the hospital with an escort. The Crown is repealing this decision but Kachkar’s psychiatrist from April until July said the decision is in keeping with Kachkar’s current mental state.

Canada’s second-largest jail, the Toronto South Detention Centre, cost just shy of $594 million to build and was finished over a year ago but still remains empty. The complex, with room for 1,650 inmates, has remained empty since its completion in November 2012, and months have passed since media walkthroughs and a postponed deadline of Nov. 1 for inmate occupancy. In contrast, the Edmonton Remand Centre—Canada’s largest jail—went from completed construction to a (very grim) “opening day” in just three months. It may be worth noting that that jail dealt with a wildcat strike in its early operational months due to “health and safety concerns,” so maybe the wait at the TSDC really is for a good reason. The TSDC is a “direct supervision” detention centre, meaning it places guards and inmates in closer proximity in an effort to curb “violent events;” violent events in Ontario correctional facilities were up 13.9 per cent from 2011 to 2012, with 3,387 recorded. Another way to curb these events might be to work on cutting the prison population down, but maybe that’s unreasonable.

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