Society has known for a long time that when you work to make a society more equal, where everyone has a chance at a decent life, you will have less crime. The governments of Canada over the last decade or so have taken advantage of people’s fears for political advantage. They have promoted fear of crime and its “solution” — more people in jail for longer sentences. This definition of the problem and its solution simply do not fit the facts which have been amply demonstrated all over the world.
There is increasingly compelling knowledge about how to prevent violence. Some governments and local jurisdictions are pioneering the application of this knowledge and balancing smarter policing with effective violence prevention.
2013 12 03 Reader Supported News: Sweden is closing 4 prisons. How are they doing it?
2013 09 14 The Battle Against solitary confinement in California Prisons (Night’s Lantern)
Updates Since C-10
2013 07 04 (Bill C-54) goes to Senate for approval. The Conversative government’s Criminal Code change to the Not Criminally Responsible bill is widely decried by Criminal Code review board chairs across Canada as being misdirected. Again, the government did not engage in consultation in proposing the changes, which take a punative ideologically driven approach to dealing with mentally ill individuals who commit offences. The bill pits offenders against victims. It will likely increase court time for cases of mental illness, and may make it more difficult for offenders to plead mental health issues in case they find themselves embroiled in hearings similar to “dangerous offender” hearings which leave you remanded to a secure treatment facility, essentially imprisoned for much longer periods of time. Article from Law Times explains:,
Ottawa releases updated situation for First Nations in Canadian Prison System. Report entitled: Spirit Matters. Aboriginal People and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act Executive Summary with ads; APTN article; Global article;
Bill C-10 struck down as unconstitutional in both Ontario and BC for its mandatory minimum sentences – Toronto Star – 2013 02 20. Is our Justice System less Just? One judge cited cruel and unusual punishment. In other cases the question is, when you leave the discretion to charge, or not to charge with the crown, will the rich and connected be let off and the poor and the visible minorities be subjected to the mandatory minimums?
Care 2 claims ending the war on drugs would reduce gun violence and violent crime.
2011 07 05 Forbes Magazine Report on Cutting drug use in half in Portugal –Decriminalization works!
CUSJ Letter to The Hon. Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety on the cutting of minority faith chaplains in prisons.
Current State of Canadian Prisons - Globe and Mail – May and June 2012
Canada Gives Green Light to Use of Information Derived from Torture - Jim Bronskill, Huffington Post August 2012
Public Health Agency of Canada — Canadian Best Practices in Violence Prevention
Public Safety Canada — Model Crime Prevention Programs Vol I
Professor Irvin Waller shares a list of key resources to access the knowledge and practical examples. Already, several task forces in Canada have been able to take the time to review material like this in the context of their particular situation … and that is how they are making the shift.
For each of the following headings, there are three key sources that are accessible to interested readers that either confirm that prevention is cost effective in reducing harm to crime victims or importantly how we can shift to balance smart enforcement and effective prevention.
- Making the case for investing in prevention and how governments can shift their actions;
- Jurisdictions that illustrate the shift that balances smart policing, rehabilitation and prevention;
- Local programs that illustrate ways to balance policing, rehabilitation and prevention;
- Programs that target investments in early childhood and youth to prevent violence;
- Programs that confirm that we can prevent violence against women;
- Data banks that identify and then present best practice programs where evaluations have proved that they prevented violence;
- Ways to assess costs to victims and governments together with analysis of benefits.
For on-going news articles across Canada & USA join the Smart Justice Network
CUSJ Action – Senate Letter Campaign – January-March 2012
Follow Frances Deverell’s Blog, Reflections on Society, to find out what is going on at the Senate Hearings
CUSJ’s Open Letter to Senate and Parliamentarians 2012 02 26
Print these out as samples for your Sunday morning letter-writing campaign
Write your senator at: The Senate of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A4
CUC Draft Resolution: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Proposed Policy
Here are some of the letters CUSJ has written to the Federal Government over the past two years on better solutions for criminal justice.
Write your own letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. Let your MP know your views.
CUSJ: Prison Farm Letter
CUSJ Letter: Mandatory Minimums
Sept 19 Elizabeth Fry Society and John Howard Society join forces against omnibus bill. See press release
Elizabeth Fry Society runs postcard campaign against Conservative Tough on Crime approach — Print your own postcards and send them to the Harper Government.
Professor Irvin Waller calls for Crime Reduction Board to be added to bill - (Globe and Mail, Oct. 24, 2011) Irvin Waller, member of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, is a professor at the University of Ottawa, and president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance. He is author of Rights for Victims of Crime: Rebalancing Justice and Less Law, More Order: The Truth about Reducing Crime.
LeadNow (An independent advocacy group seeking progress in Canada through democracy) asserts that every billion dollars our federal government forces our provinces to spend on new prisons is a billion dollars that could have been spent preventing crimes by supporting programs for at-risk youth, drug and alcohol treatment programs, and strategies for mental health. One positive step would be to establish an independent commission of diverse citizens and experts to create a 21st century Canadian justice plan. Here is the English version of their petition which you may want to sign and encourage your network to do the same – Sign Petition
RODC (Reclaim Our Democratic Canada) A group focussed on the democratic problems relating to C-10 and participating in the coalition against it.
Quebec balks at Ottawa’s Law and Order agenda – Globe and Mail, Nov. 1, 2011 – Daniel Leblanc and Rheal Seguin
Jeffrey Simpson reports No Crime Epidemic in Canada – Globe and Mail, Nov. 4, 2011
Coalition of Churches Condemns incarceration of the addicted and the mentally ill. Globe and Mail, January 26, 2011