The bail process dramatically worsens the social and economic conditions of the accused making it more likely for them to re-enter the criminal system. This amplifies the problem of using the criminal system to address non-criminal social challenges.


Past achievements and ongoing advocacy.


How creative media can make a difference.

Explorable Explanation

Dig into the causes and effects of this problem.


There’s reason to have hope. Advocates, journalists, researchers, and every day people have worked for years to generate political and social momentum for system-wide change.

It's essential that we learn from and build on past achievements and ongoing work. We've grouped these efforts into four categories:

  • Accountability: news media or research that holds our institutions to account

  • Programs: pilot programs and funded improvements to the justice system

  • Strategies: specific plans, frameworks, and proposals for reform

  • Advocacy: protests, media campaigns, legal challenges

The entries below are just a starting point. We need your help to identify the most important and impactful efforts that are undoing the harm of criminalizing mental health, addiction, poverty, homelessness, and race. Please share your feedback with us.

Paul Millar, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah
Whitewashing Criminal Justice in Canada: Preventing Research through Data Suppression

This research article raises awareness on the suppression of racial information by police organizations in Canada. It argues that suppression of race prevents anti-racism research which is needed to hold police accountable for racial profiling and stigmatization.

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Creative media can illustrate to new audiences how reducing the harm done to marginalized people by our bail system will result in more just outcomes

It can also help more people understand how investing in social programs and services like housing, healthcare, and education will reduce unnecessary involvement in the criminal legal system.

Explorable Explanation

Harmful Prison Conditions

Ontario prisons suffer from overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, violence, lockdowns, drug use, and insufficient support for mental health and addictions. Isolated from their families, support networks, and healthcare providers, accused people are also at risk of losing employment, government benefits, and housing.

Restrictive Bail Conditions

When an accused is out on bail, restrictive conditions can create unnecessary hardship as they struggle to improve their life.

Burden of a Criminal Record

Having a criminal record can make it difficult or impossible to get a job, housing, or enroll in educational/training programs.

Most people accused of crimes come from communities with disadvantaged social and economic conditions.

In Ontario, marginalized communities have been underserved by social programs and economic opportunities.

Police Interaction

When people’s socio-economic standing is unfairly and unnecessarily reduced, they're more likely to have problems with crime and policing.

More crime and policing leads to an increase in the number of people who enter the criminal legal system.

Investment in Communities

When sufficient investments are made in social programs and economic opportunities, communities can improve their health, safety, and quality of life.

This leads to reduced crime, policing, and involvement with the criminal legal system.