500 words; 2 minutes to read
This blog started 5 years ago as an experiment. Was there a place for a Canadian online publication that addressed important issues in criminal justice, especially from a research-informed perspective? Could John Howard Canada use this vehicle to contribute to a more informed public debate on these matters?
200 posts later we can safely say that the answer to these questions is yes. Our blog is widely used as a reliable source of information on a wide variety of topics. It is regularly cited. Our posts have covered a diverse range of topics including arrests, bail, crime rates, prison conditions, sentencing, parole, and life after a conviction. We have had a particular interest in exploring the many systematic inequities in the criminal justice system – for example for Indigenous people.
So much of the attention to criminal justice, in both the mass media and social media, focuses on sensationalism and emotion. This emphasis gives people a very distorted picture and leads to the adoption of counterproductive policies (such as restricted bail or harsher sentences) based on highly unusual cases.
As well, Canadians are overwhelmed with views and news about the American criminal justice system, especially on TV. Many Canadians do not realize how different our system is in so many ways from that in the US. Again, the result is misunderstandings that can, in turn, lead to the wrong public policy.
At the same time, there is a lot of great work being done in criminal justice by academics and community advocates in Canada and beyond. This work draws our attention to important facts and trends that give a very different picture. We emphasize Canadian research and analysis in our posts, much of which might otherwise not be very accessible to a broad public.
There is also a lot of compelling testimony by those who have been through the system. This evidence reveals many problematic aspects of the system and the negative effects it has had not only on them but on people who are totally innocent, such as their families. Our ‘prisoner account’ posts try to give these stories more attention as well.
All of our posts are carefully referenced to original sources, and we try always to focus on facts and experiences rather than opinions.
We hope that the blog will be of increasing value to a broad audience interested in these issues, including students, journalists, and community advocates.
Anything in the blog can be freely reposted or re-used for any bona-fide, non-profit purpose without requesting consent as long as the source (John Howard Canada blog) is acknowledged. However we are always happy to know when our work is being used by others.
We are always open for ideas about relevant content, and to suggestions about how the blog can be more useful to more people. We can be reached at email@example.com.
This blog is produced entirely by volunteers. Volunteers in the past year have included (in random order) Averi Brailey, Emily Stewart, Jamie Davison, Kaitlyn Keleher, Madeleine Talmassons, Victoria Carmichael, Anonymous, Hannah Lee, Riley Mintz, and Martina Acuri.