By underfunding our legal system, we deny people adequate legal representation and their dignity while in prison. The unacceptable has been normalized: we’ve become desensitized to the true cost of undermining our core legal and moral principles.


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 to secure adequate legal representation and dignified prison conditions for people accused of criminal offences. Please share your feedback with us.

Justin Ling
Prison breaking-point: Canada’s jail system is in crisis, and that affects all of us

Read More »


Creative media can illustrate to new audiences how investing in our core legal and moral principles - to ensure people have fair legal representation and dignity while in prison - will have a transformative impact on the fairness and efficiency of our legal system.

Explorable Explanation

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Insufficient Legal Representation

Most accused can't afford a lawyer and can't get enough help from Legal Aid Ontario because it is grossly underfunded.

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.

Quality of Defence

These conditions combine to have devastating effects on the accused's ability to mount an adequate defense.

Ripple Effects

When the accused can't mount an adequate legal defence, they're at a high risk of suffering extremely negative legal consequences:

  • Getting denied bail 

  • Getting released on bail but with excessive conditions 

  • Accepting a plea bargain

  • Receiving a more severe sentence if convicted

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

Restrictive bail releases, plea bargains, and convictions further reduce people’s socio-economic standing. This traps people in poverty and increases the risk of criminal activity.


With sufficient funding, our criminal legal system can ensure that all accused have adequate legal representation and that prison conditions uphold human dignity.

Ripple Effects

By ensuring the accused have dignified prison conditions and legal representation, they will have a chance to mount an adequate defence. This will help prevent the accused from suffering worse outcomes that can propagate cycles of crime.