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This blog ran its first post just about a year ago. At that time we stated the goal as being “to help build a well-informed public, which in turn should lead to better public policy and a more successful approach to criminal justice; one that uses public resources wisely to reduce crime, reduce harm related to crime, and provide more support for victims of crime.” We promised that the blog would have a range of voices, cover a wide range of topics, and focus on Canada but also give attention to other places. It would especially provide an outlet for much Canadian work on criminal justice that deserves wider attention.
The mission of John Howard Canada is still to promote “effective, just and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime”. Crime and criminal justice remain topics of great public interest, and we are still in a situation in which public attitudes and public policy are too often based on emotional responses rather than on knowledge and evidence. The results often make things worse rather than better.
That first post illustrated the need for this greater public awareness by mentioning some of the facts about criminal justice in Canada that most Canadians just don’t know: for example that, 1 in 8 Canadian adults has a criminal record of some kind, or that in more than 90% of criminal cases in Canada, there is no trial while more than one in four cases is dropped by the prosecution, or that most people who are jailed do not get paroled, even though very few people on parole commit a new crime. If these facts were more widely known, there would be greater support for reforms in criminal justice, many of which were promised in the 2015 federal election, but have not yet been delivered.
Since then we have published 50 posts – about one per week – even though for unavoidable reasons the blog did not publish anything for several months last winter. Those posts have covered a wide range of topics, from life inside a prison to the wrongfully convicted to the unequal effect of criminal justice on some groups to the needed reforms in the system and other groups working on them. We hope that readers have found them interesting and useful. As mentioned we welcome appropriate reuse or reference to this material.
At this point we have only scratched the surface of what might be reported. Many people in Canada and elsewhere are doing excellent research and advocacy work on criminal justice issues. We hope to report many more of these efforts in the future.
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